Thanks for the observations on the brevity of my last blog entry. I did post it about 30 seconds after Bertie had given the date for the handover, so I was still in a state of shock.
The torch was formally handed over this morning, with the election of Brian Cowen as leader, with less scuffles than we've witnessed in London or Paris over the last few days, and he's on course to assume the mantle of Taoiseach on 7 May. It certainly takes the pressure off the Greens as we prepare for our annual Conference this weekend in Dundalk. I'm sure these first ten months of Government will seem like ancient history in a few years time.
I 'm warming to Cowen. It looks like what you see is what you get, and he doesn't appear to suffer fools gladly.
Meanwhile, billboard ads for Transport 21 have appeared. The small print states 'a better quality of life, better business and a better future for everyone.' But wait a second. I've a letter on my desk from Noel Dempsey dated 19 March asking me to make a submission on the sustainable travel initiative. 'At the moment the trends are unsustainable and, even after the massive investment in Transport 21, urban congestion could be worse and greenhouse emissions from transport much higher in 2020 than they are today.' Noel's words, not mine
Surely some mistake. I don't think it quite sends out the right message to have kids driving toy cars, but that's only a sidebar to the very real dilemma that faces both the Green Party and Noel Dempsey. There's a lull in public transport capital investment at the moment but a lot of substantial projects will kick in, particularly in Dublin over the next few years. However the National Roads Authority is well placed to spend money fast on roads. The creation of a Dublin Transportation Authority will improve the links between transport and land-use planning over the next few years, but rather than business as usual, maybe what we need is a National Transport Authority to ensure that rail and bus projects get fast-tracked to completion.
I'm pleased that the Programme for Government states that 'Multi-criteria analysis of all transport projects will take into account environmental factors on a whole project basis', but I believe we've got to tilt the funding balance much further towards public transport if we're to deliver sustainable transport over the next few years, and that requires institutional reform, as well as funding
Submissions on the Sustainable Travel Consultation Document can be made here, by Friday 18 April.