Commuters can't use new Luas due to parking farce
THOUSANDS of commuters are unable to use Dublin's €300m new Luas extension because there's nowhere to park their cars.
Hundreds of acres of empty land surround the new Luas stops, but people can't use them to park and ride because the land is now tied up in the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).
It also emerged last night that the agency operating the Luas has not even entered discussions with NAMA about making some of this land available to commuters for parking.
Hundreds of drivers were turned away from the Luas terminus in Cherrywood, south Dublin, on Monday morning when the line opened for business because the only car park in operation is a private facility for workers at Dell and other adjacent offices.
Car-park operators have put security staff in place all week to inform stunned commuters there's nowhere for them to park, and clampers have been patrolling the area.
Drivers are left with the option of trying to find a parking place on one short local road, or of driving all the way to the large car park at one of the old Luas stops in Sandyford. This means drivers will get no benefit from the costly new 7km extension.
Commuters were stunned to discover there was no way to access the new line unless they were among the few who live within walking distance of its remote stations, particularly on the section between Ballyogan and Cherrywood.
"People look at this new line, which has been years in construction and cost €283m, yet it's been opened without the basics in place to let people use it so they keep clogging up the roads instead," Rail Users Group spokesman Mark Gleeson told the Irish Independent.
Mr Gleeson called on NAMA "to give something back to the public" by making land available for the park-and-ride facilities crucial to make the Luas extension feasible to use by thousands of commuters travelling from Wicklow and south Dublin.
He also called on the Rail Procurement Agency (RPA) or Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to hammer out a temporary solution.
The RPA, which operates the Luas, said it was "extremely concerned about the situation" and was working with the council to come up with a solution.
It said park-and-ride facilities at Cherrywood and other stops had been part of the original design.
A spokesman said these facilities were supposed to be provided by builders as part of major developments that had not materialised. The land has now been transferred to NAMA.
The RPA recently secured planning permission for a 350-car park-and-ride facility near the Carrickmines Luas stop which will open next spring, but said it had not yet been able to nail down sites at other stops.