Background to the work of the Steering Group
A well-performing transport system is essential to the functioning of society and the economy. Failure to facilitate efficient transport creates costs for society, and acts as a barrier to economic growth. Increased transport demand and inappropriate supply inevitably leads to increased congestion, longer journey times, higher costs and suppressed economic activity. The investment challenge presented to Governments, here and elsewhere, is to allocate the resourcing required to maintain transport networks and add required new capacity. This requires investment of a considerable scale and must compete with other policy priorities for resources.
The funding landscape having changed dramatically in Ireland in recent years, the scope to implement major investment programmes in areas such as transport is tightly constrained. The time was opportune to consider what role transport needs to play in the future development of the Irish economy, estimate the appropriate level of investment in the land transport system and form a set of priorities to guide the allocation of that investment to best develop and manage Ireland’s land transport network over the coming decades.
During the course of this work, the focus was put very firmly on economic objectives and how efficient transport can contribute to the Government’s job creation agenda, enhancing competitiveness, increasing productivity, encouraging FDI and labour mobility always mindful that generating economic growth will help to create the fiscal space necessary to give attention to other important objectives such as balanced regional development and social inclusion objectives.
Drawing on national and international data and research, evidence from key stakeholders, and analysis and research both commissioned and carried out within the Department and its agencies the work undertaken, primarily by the IGEES EFE Unit in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, under the direction of the Steering Group was wide-ranging and included considering the evidence base on the link between economic growth and investment, establishing the steady state investment requirement which is assessing the cost of maintaining, managing and renewing land transport infrastructure and assets over time, and identifying future needs by modelling the scale of projected demand in a future year and where that demand will arise. The evidence from these three key areas of work, along with an understanding of key transport and travel trends, the impact on travel demand of structural changes to the economy and consideration of how to manage demand provides the basis for the proposed overall principles to guide investment decisions in transport over the longer term.
This report presents, in summary form, the findings and conclusions of the steering group and the evidence on which they are based. The framework does not set out a list or map of projects to be prioritised. Rather, the principles outlined in Chapter 6 will provide the yardstick against which national and regional, comprehensive and single mode based plans and programmes are expected to be drawn up and assessed.
Detailed background papers that informed the development of the framework are listed in Annex 3 to the Report and are published in association with the summary report. Of particular interest to readers may be Papers 4, 5 ,6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 18 & 21.