Labour Senator Mark Wall has highlighted the need to review the short hop rail zones to make public transport more affordable and more accessible for commuting students and workers. Reiterating the need to change the culture of public transport, Senator Wall said we cannot allow our motorways to turn into carparks again.
Senator Wall said:
“There was no attempt in yesterday’s budget to increase the short hop rail zones to cover the train stations south of Kildare. We are seeing commuters driving from towns like Newbridge to avail of the short hop zone prices – who can blame them when they are saving up to €200 per month, even with the increase in car fuel prices.
“If we are serious about climate change and public transport, then places like Newbridge must be included in the short hope zone before our motorways are turning into carparks once again. Indeed, the population of Newbridge has increased due to many people either opting to move due to the increase of flexible work or due to being priced out of the city. We need to encourage these commuters onto trains not roads.
“While we welcome the youth travel card announced yesterday, the devil will be in the detail and implementation of this. We are aware of students who are paying the equivalent of monthly rents travelling from train stations like Portarlington, Monasterevin, Kildare Town, Athy and Newbridge for college. In ordinary times these students would take the plunge and move to the city, but there is no affordable student accomodation available. While the reduction in fares for students represents a step in the right direction, the government should now take another and install the machinery to accept the student leap card and give students and parents the break they deserve.
“People in our Kildare are suffering through a transport and commuter crisis. We need to entice as many people in the county onto public transport as possible if we are serious about achieving our climate targets. Let’s have some common sense and encourage our commuters onto trains by extending the short hop zone throughout the county.”