Council rejects Taoiseach’s proposal for electric cars in bus lanes

Dublin City Council has said it is opposed to proposed regulation changes which would allow electric and hybrid vehicles to use bus lanes.

Last week, Leo Varadkar said the Government was considering allowing electric vehicles (EVs) to use bus lanes in a bid to encourage more motorists to take up the more carbon-friendly mode of transport.

On Tuesday, Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton confirmed the proposal was something the Government was looking at, while acknowledging it would be difficult to implement due to public transport plans such as BusConnects.

However, a spokesman for the local authority’s environment and transport department said it did not believe privately owned EVs should be allowed to use bus lanes, adding that it would be “opposed to any changes in regulations to allow this to happen”.

“The bus lanes are currently at capacity and the current legal presence of small public service vehicles is causing delays and disruptions to bus services, adding any more vehicles in the bus lanes would not facilitate public transport and bus operations,” the spokesman added.

Fianna Fáil has also branded the Taoiseach’s comments – made in a radio interview with TodayFM – as unhelpful.

John Lahart, Fianna Fáil’s Dublin spokesman, said the Taoiseach’s proposal to examine this is “surprising” because the Government has shown “commitment to BusConnects; to reducing congestion in Dublin and to proposing greater use of public transport”.

“The idea of filling up our bus lanes into the city with cars just defies logic. There is no mention of cycling or e-cycling in the Government’s climate action plan and they have put all their eggs in the basket of e-cars,” he said. “I have no idea why the Taoiseach would propose the use of bus lanes by e-cars.”

He added that Mr Varadkar should instead direct his focus on the roll out of nationwide EV charging points.

Separately, Mr Varadkar said the Government was encouraging Ministers to switch to EVs and hybrids but acknowledged they cost a lot of money. In his case, in consultation with the Garda, his department was trialling a hybrid car. In relation to other ministerial cars, there was a case for acquiring greener vehicles over time as the current fleet was being replaced, he added.

Speaking at a briefing on progress in implementing the Government’s climate action plan on Thursday, he said that the use of the Government jet could be justified through carbon offsetting. Replacing it was out of the question on cost grounds.

The Taoiseach said he did not believe flying was about to end due to its climate impact, or that people would soon stop flying to Spain on their holidays. He highlighted the potential of carbon-neutral synthetic fuels, which are currently being tested by Lufthansa airline.

On a suggestion that more than €1.1 billion recently announced for three major road projects would not get people out of their cars and was “a bad use of scarce resources”, Mr Varadkar said many other public transport projects had also been funded, while Government policy was a 2 to 1 split in favour of public transport over roads. “I think it’s a bit too extreme to say there should be almost no investment in roads at all.”

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