Proposed airport Luas service route 'too slow', expert warns
Published 21/04/2015 | 12:11
A proposed Luas service between Dublin Airport and the city centre travelling through Finglas has been criticised by a transport expert.
Such a service would be too slow and result in people ignoring the trams by choosing a faster direct bus link, said David O'Connor, a lecturer at Dublin Institute of Technology.
"People arriving at the airport are looking for an express service into the city centre," he said.
Luas trams going through Finglas "would have too many stops" and would "take too long", warned Mr O'Connor, who lectures in transport and urban design.
Express buses using the port tunnel take 15 minutes to travel from the airport to the city centre.
Mr O'Connor expressed concern following reports indicating that Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe will choose a Finglas tram option as the airport-city centre service.
Mr Donohoe is considering a number of cheaper options to the proposed €3bn Metro North project linking Swords and the airport to the centre.
The planned Metro North - a 16.5km light rail line that would have linked St Stephen's Green with the airport - was shelved by the Government due to the economic downturn.
This was after €165.4m was spent on preparation work.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) has already proposed the development of a bus rapid transit (BRT) scheme, branded Swiftway, which could begin in 2017 and link Swords and the airport to the city centre.
This would involve the use of longer, multi-door "bendy buses" with capacity for up to 120 people.
These would be allotted special lanes separated from other traffic and have priority at traffic signals and junctions.
Mr O'Connor said a Luas extension from Cabra through Finglas to the airport would cost around €330m while a high-quality reliable BRT system would cost €240m or less.
He told the Herald that BRT systems were gaining in popularity around the world.
He warned that airport travellers would choose not to use a comparatively slow Luas tram service to travel to the city centre, which could mean such a service would fail to pay for itself.
However, the NTA has admitted that Swiftway would be only an interim solution and would not be sufficient to cater for projected transport demand in the longer term.
The NTA declared some months ago that the existing Metro North project - which has already secured planning permission - had not been ruled out and that possible variants were also under consideration.
Other options studied by the authority include an extension of the DART line from Clongriffin to the airport and onward to Swords.