Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan launched the Pathfinder Programme of 35 exemplar transport projects to be delivered by local authorities and agencies around the country within the next 3 years.
The projects are those selected following Minister Ryan’s call to local authorities over the summer to submit their most innovative, transformative plans for public transport, walking and cycling in their areas – the projects that could make the greatest difference to people living in their counties.
The result is a broad variety of projects ranging from national game-changing proposals like making College Green in Dublin car-free to smaller, creative and equally effective projects like a Bus-it-2-school project in Co. Meath or a pilot programme in Co. Leitrim to integrate Local Link with a hackney and community e-bike scheme.
The launch took place in the new Castletymon Library, which is one of the focal points on the proposed Dublin 24 Rapid Build Cycling Network, which will connect the community in South Tallaght with the Luas, Tallaght Town Centre, Tallaght Hospital, five schools and sports communities, running in part through Bancroft Park. The new cycle path will also link onto the Dodder Greenway, with plans to support the local community to access bikes.
Put together, the selected pathfinder projects will begin to transform how we move, work and live across the country. They can be split into 5 categories:
- National Impact: includes CycleConnects, a national brand coordinating high-quality cycle routes in urban areas
- Cycle Network/Corridor Proposals: projects such as West Wexford Urban Cycle Network, Sligo Cycle Corridor and Meath Rural Cycleway Rapid Development
- Public Transport: projects such as Moyross Train Station and Athlone Bus Electrification
- 15 Minute Neighbourhoods: projects such as the Letterkenny Active Travel Town and Naas Mobility Network and the 5 Cities Active Travel Demonstrators
- Serving Schools/Universities: projects like the acceleration of the Safe Routes to School Programme, Limerick University Connectivity, BusIT2School in Co. Meath
- Workshops and Research: includes nationwide Sustainable Mobility Training Workshops and Leitrim “Green Mile” Mobility Pilot
The Pathfinder Programme is focused on reducing carbon emissions in the transport sector, by enabling the shift to cleaner transport choices. It also aims to bring increased momentum to the delivery of projects at a local level, providing templates that can be replicated and scaled up elsewhere, with a strong emphasis on experimental and innovative approaches.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Ryan said, “I was delighted with the response to my call to local authorities to participate in the Pathfinder Programme. This first selected list shows clearly that there is a real appetite for change across the country. Shortlisted projects, while all unique, have three key things in common. They are innovative. They are ambitious. And critically, they will be delivered at speed. The Leadership Group through this Pathfinder Programme will continue to engage with all local authorities to ensure momentum and that the lessons and experience of the shortlisted projects are shared for everyone’s benefit.”
“Decarbonising transport presents an enormous challenge, one which requires a fundamental change in how we travel including a shift in our mindset and choices. By 2025 the selected pathfinder projects will be in action, improving the communities in which they will be implemented, and demonstrating to other localities how our system can be transformed. By delivering quickly, and by striking out on a path which others will follow, they will help to drive implementation of the government’s Sustainable Mobility Policy.”
Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority said, “Pathfinder Projects will be transformative in our cities by reducing car dependency and widening access for active travel and public transport. The projects can deliver once in a generation change to active travel through CycleConnects in all our cities focusing on the delivery of the core active travel networks in those cities and making new connections such as between Limerick’s three higher education institutions. The Pathfinder projects also supports the delivery of the first zero emission public transport services in Athlone and Dingle and starts us on an ambitious delivery path for zero emission bus services across Ireland.”
Michael Mulhern, Director of Planning and Transport, South Dublin County Council said, “the scale of interest shown by Local Authorities across the Country in putting forward so many excellent projects is hugely encouraging. It shows the level of commitment and ambition that each Local Authority has to deliver these projects which will drastically enhance our local walking, cycling and public transport networks. We need the continued support from central government, the NTA as well as local communities to successfully deliver these projects.”
The Pathfinder Programme forms a key part of the implementation of the National Sustainable Mobility Policy (SMP), which is a vital part of the government’s plan to meet Ireland’s requirement to achieve a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in the transport sector.