Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Urban studies (Planning and development), Transport planning and social aspects of transport


The National Transport Authority was established originally as a land-use and transport planning agency whose aim was to coordinate and integrate transport infrastructure and service delivery in the Greater Dublin Area and, subsequently, to manage public passenger transport licensing nationally. This paper looks at the corporate structure of the NTA and, comparing it to other transport systems, assesses its incorporation, particularly in terms of accountability.

Many analysts consider institutional arrangement as the most fundamental aspect of delivering effective transport systems. A range of governance systems exist for urban transport authorities. The NTA most closely reflects the model of a public agency with sub-contracted services. Within this structure, levels of accountability and integration with local democracy appear to be very limited, with little or no public representation and the agency excerpting control over all land use development plans within its administrative area.

Evidence from other jurisdictions indicates that those systems with high levels of democratic involvement and the most effective distribution of strategic, tactical and operational planning lead to the most efficient and sustainable transport networks. Analysis of the NTA corporate structure suggests that, while it possesses strong strategic and planning controls, a number of factors – including its lack of accountability, its unclear relationship with other transport agencies and its overly broad geographic remit – may hinder its ability to deliver its stated objectives.

Comparison with the public transport federation or “verkehrsverbund” model, in particular, show that increased democratic involvement, combined with greater powers over operational agencies may be a more effective means to creating a sustainable transport network. A recent bill and current government policy also suggest that this may be a more appropriate direction for the Greater Dublin Area if accountability is to be pursued as an objective.