Overview of the Irish Transport Research Network Annual Conference

Having been established in 2009, the Irish Transport Research Network (ITRN) aims to provide a setting to foster the development of transport studies in Ireland whilst promoting the connection between researchers working in this field. Formed by a cohort of Irish Universities, ITRN is positioning itself to act as an interface in which academic research can be accessible to external bodies and to inform policy development in an effort to move towards a sustainable transport system.

Recently, ITRN held the 5th iteration of their annual conference at the University of Limerick. Split across fifteen sessions, a total of thirty-five research presentations were delivered by individuals based at fourteen different research institutions originating both within and outside of Ireland.

The conference sessions covered a wide range of topics including cycling behaviour, transport policy, smarter travel, road safety and public transport. Of specific relevance to the TGRG community, a number of the presentations touched on subjects related to the interaction of transport and geographical considerations.

A paper presented by David O’Connor and Phillip Kavanagh  investigates the dwell time variance along a major bus route serving Dublin City with specific attention paid to the influence of the time of day of the bus trip, payment mechanisms and the number of passengers embarking at different stops. The authors provide a valuable contribution by directly linking their research findings to recommendations through which the quality of the bus service could be improved.

Exploring the link between the recent housing boom in Dublin and patterns of commuting, Brian Caulfield and Aoife Ahern  demonstrate how new suburbs built during the period of the Celtic Tiger have not kept pace with the provision of public transport services leading to an increase in the prevalence of car dependency.

In a similar piece of research, Sarah Rock and Aoife Ahern  demonstrate how the lack of integration between transport and residential planning has led to forced car ownership in newly developed housing estates located in the suburbs of Dublin. With these newly developed estates experiencing significant declines in household income as a result of the recent financial recession, there has been a marked increase in transport inequity and disadvantage in these areas. Due to the keen insights offered in this paper, Sarah Rock  was awarded the prize for best postgraduate paper.

As ITRN continues to develop as a researcher network, there exists an opportunity for an expansion of research which focuses on geographical issues in transport and for collaborations to develop between transport geographers who are situated in Ireland with those based in the UK and farther afield. With this in mind, colleagues at TGRG may want to consider ITRN as a possible research development and dissemination platform in the future, as this will likely lead to a stronger connection being formed between these related groups of researchers.

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