By Conor Burke
The government’s recent decision to reduce fares for public transport by 20% was immediately offset by inflation and the rising cost of living. In reality, it was a token measure that falls far short of what should have been implemented.
The resources exist for a public transport system that is free at the point of use, which is a vital measure to slash CO2 emissions. However, such a move would most certainly cut across the privatisation model that the right-wing political establishment are ideologically committed to. Transport companies that are privately run for profit will naturally oppose such a system.
A number of cities around the world have introduced free public transport in order to reduce congestion, thus lowering air pollution and carbon emissions. Given that Ireland is already way off track to meet the government’s own emissions reduction target of 51% by 2030, it is clear that the time for half-measures has long passed. Transport is the second largest contributor to carbon emissions in Ireland after agriculture. Therefore, the introduction of free fares would be a big step in the right direction.
Failure of the Greens
The Green Party received substantial support at the last general election, reflecting a desire for action on climate change. The fact that it is seeking to accomplish this by adhering to free market policies such as carbon taxes that don’t target the actual polluters, but instead put the burden on consumers is a total cop out.
As well as making public transport free, we also need major investment to upgrade and vastly expand our bus and rail networks. These measures are an important part of the social transformation required to tackle climate change. Privatisation of public transport must be ended, and a quality service maintained with all transport workers on proper pay and working conditions.
The failure of the Greens to take on the real sources of environmental destruction is a clear example of why we need anti-capitalist, socialist policies that will protect and defend workers, while taking the fight to the big polluters and profiteers.