The National Mitigation Plan proposed the establishing of a Behavioural Economics Working Group recognising the particular role that understanding human behaviour plays in effecting passenger mode shift. A Working Group approach was envisaged to review research and best practice in motivating significant modal shift away from cars towards public and active travel.
Since then, specifically to acknowledge the importance of human and psychological factors in influencing the uptake of sustainable solutions, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) have established a dedicated Behavioural Economics Unit which is tasked with researching and communicating methods to encourage people to make better energy use decisions across a range of areas including some aspects of the transport sector. My Department is working with this Unit on transport projects and in 2018 co-funded a research project with SEAI entitled ‘Examining a range of behavioural nudges that would assist in decarbonising the national car fleet’. The work of this SEAI Unit, securing relevant research and the collaboration with my Department were considered more effective means of advancing this key work than establishing a separate transport specific Behavioural Economics Working Group.
My Department is very aware that behavioural insight to influence change in the transport sector is essential. Supporting a shift away from the use of the passenger car, where feasible, remains central to the transport sector's response, not only to the climate change challenge but also to air quality and congestion challenges.
The National Development Plan has earmarked €8.6 billion for investment in public and sustainable transport to improve the capacity and attractiveness of the networks. Since 2013 we have seen an increase of almost 31 million journeys on subsidised public transport and commercial bus services, with an increase of 16 million passengers in 2017 (a 7% rise on 2016 figures) across Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann and Luas services.
Furthermore, my Department supports a wide range of active travel behavioural change programmes, including Green Schools, Smarter Workplaces and Campuses, and CycleRight which continue to promote the many and varied benefits of sustainable transport and are instrumental in the decision making of many to reduce car use and switch to more sustainable modes of transport.
Similarly, the recently published Climate Action Plan contains several actions which seek to increase the level of modal shift. A copy of the Plan can be found on the website of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, at the following link: www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/climate-action/topics/climate-action-plan/Pages/climate-action.aspx.