Limerick, Dungarvan and Westport win Smarter Travel Areas competition
Minister of State for Public and Commuter Transport Alan Kelly announced the results of the National Competition for Smarter Travel Areas on 1 February 2012. Limerick City, Dungarvan and Westport will share in funding of €23million over a 5-year period to transform into Smarter Travel Areas, promoting cycling and walking, the use of public transport, and reducing car travel.
Minister Kelly said he was very pleased to announce the competition results. “The three Smarter Travel Areas of Limerick, Dungarvan and Westport put forward excellent proposals for transforming people’s travel behaviour, with support from local businesses and communities. The governments’ investment in Smarter Travel Areas will reshape and transform these areas, reducing congestion and pollution, improving road safety, creating local employment opportunities, and improving people’s health and fitness, as well as enhancing town and streetscapes locally.”
In broad terms, the projects include provisions such as:
- improved cycling ways, including safe routes to school and to key business and workplace zones;
- secure cycle parking in town centres or at public transport nodes;
- better walking facilities, including pedestrianisation;
- lower speed limits in residential and town centre areas;
- school and workplace travel planning
- car clubs
“ These projects show a clear understanding of the smarter travel concept, and display vision, ambition, imagination and a certain amount of courage”, the Minister commented.
“I’m also delighted that the successful projects represent both metropolitan and smaller towns. Sustainable transport and travel is key challenge for cities and towns and for each of us on a day to day basis. It’s a new idea in Ireland; we need to know what will work; and we need to develop ideas and local initiatives. This is the key concept behind the Smarter Travel Demonstration Areas.”
The Minister indicated that while the three Areas’ proposals had been approved, there were elements in some of the applications that had not been successful, and the Areas were granted 80% of their original funding application. The investment will roll out from April 2012 for a period of up to five years. The average annual spend across all three Areas will be €4.75 million.
Smarter Travel Areas will be delivered by Local Authorities, working in partnership with DTTAS, local businesses, schools and community groups. Smarter Travel Areas will also demonstrate how investment in sustainable travel can be most efficiently targeted in other towns and cities across Ireland. Investment in sustainable travel has internationally consistently had benefit to cost ratios of between 8 and 3 to 1.
Under the National Competition for Smarter Travel Areas, 39 initial applications were received from Local Authorities. 11 of these proposals were shortlisted – Cork City, Drimnagh, Dundalk, Dungarvan, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Loughrea, Navan, Sandyford, and Westport. The shortlisted Areas were asked to submit detailed bids and business cases for government investment for consideration by a selection panel, involving representatives from DTTAS, DEHLG and an independent expert in sustainable travel. At the competition launch in 2009, the intended programme expenditure was €50 million over 5 years, but in the current economic climate, this has been reduced to €23 million.
Minister Kelly added: “The shortlisted applications were of high quality and the competition was keen. I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to all the shortlisted authorities. I was most impressed with their applications and with their effort and commitment. Given the current financial situation in Ireland, it was inevitable that only a small number could be funded, but I hope that the understandable disappointment will not deter their efforts to build on the ambitions which they developed for their areas and which they may be able to progress over time outside the competition”
The three successful Smarter Travel Area bids are available to view here.