Ambitious €1bn public transport plan includes rapid bus network and mobile phone payments
AN “ambitious public transport plan” costed at €1bn is needed to stop congestion from “strangling the life out of our cities,” the National Transport Authority (NTA) has warned.
The authority has this morning outlined its ‘BusConnects’ plan, a transformation of the bus network to include bus corridors segregated from general traffic, introduction of a high-speed Bus Rapid Transport network, allowing commuters to use credit cards and mobile phones to pay for trips and introducing low-emission vehicles.
The NTA says that average traffic speeds on the main roads during the 8am to 9am morning peak is falling in Dublin, from 39.kmh to 33.7kmh. The number of cars paying the M50 toll has also risen by 18pc.
“The number of cars on the roads is increasing. It takes longer to get travel to work, to college and to school than last year or the year before. The working day is getting longer as traffic delays force people to leave earlier for work and return later each day.
“As a barometer for the region, the average daily traffic at the tolling point on the M50 was almost 18pc higher in 2016 than two years earlier in 2014. Increased traffic means slower speeds and longer journeys.
“Congestion is in danger of strangling the life out of our cities and we need an ambitious public transport plan to get to grips with it.”
Currently, there are 11 bus corridors in the city and three orbital routes around the city. They are segregated from general traffic for just one-third of their length, which makes the bus system “less efficient, less reliable and less punctual”.
“As a result, many people do not see any benefit in choosing bus transport,” the NTA says.
Roads will be widened and parking eliminated on some routes, and segregated cycle lanes provided.
A complete redesign of the Dublin Bus network following a period of consultation with users is also proposed, and all bus fares will go cashless in an attempt to reduce journey times.
The Leap card, credit or debit cards or mobiles will be used for payment.
A rebranding of the bus fleet is also proposed, and revamping the fares structure to allow commuters move between different transport modes.
The NTA also says that by 2023, half the bus fleet in Dublin – or 500 – will be converted to low-emission vehicles which could be electric, compressed natural gas or biogas. A decision on the most suitable technology will be made by the end of this year.
A network of 11 park and ride sides close to Dart and Luas stations, and close to the M50, is also proposed.
“Transforming the bus system requires investment,” the NTA added. “Delivering all of the elements of BusConnects, inclusive of bus lanes, BRT and ticketing systems, will cost over €1bn,” the NTA says.
The redesign of the bus network is already underway, and will be rolled out early next year. Construction of BRT and new bus corridors would be completed within 30 months of planning permission being secured, and the NTA said the benefits of the new system could start coming on-stream from 2019.