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Sunday 18 August 2019

New Bus Connects plans receive mixed reactions

Bus Connects involves the creation of 230km of dedicated bus lanes, as well as 200km of cycle routes. Photo: Rollingnews.ie
Bus Connects involves the creation of 230km of dedicated bus lanes, as well as 200km of cycle routes. Photo: Rollingnews.ie

Gabija Gataveckaite

New Bus Connects plans have received mixed reactions from Dublin councillors.

The plans, which are still in their early stages and will go through due process later in the year, would allow for 3km diversion and a green plaza in Stoneybatter in Dublin’s north inner city.

While the green plaza has been mostly welcomed by local councillors, Fianna Fáil’s Mary Fitzpatrick criticised the NTA’s handling of the process.

“I’m disappointed with the NTA’s drip feeding of information,” she said.

“I don’t understand why they just don’t have a full public consultation.”

She said that Dublin has many congestion issues and forcing private vehicles out of Stoneybatter is not the solution.

“I want the NTA to be more ambitious. Removing cars from Stoneybatter and displacing them is not adequate, not reasonable and not responsible,” she said.

She also criticised the handling of the proposed green plaza.

“It would be great if we had more greenery in the city, but the green plaza will not be a plaza as it would still have traffic going through it.

“It is not clear if there would be increased space for pedestrians or cyclists and it is very important that there is.”

Labour Councillor Joe Costello welcomed the green plaza proposals in the town.

“The green plaza is a big improvement,” he told Independent.ie.

“I’m delighted on that and that it’s been dealt with. It’s going to enhance the village and add trees instead of felling them,” he said.

The councillor has been working with the Stoneybatter Pride of Place group with the National Transport Authority (NTA) over the last several months in making changes to Bus Connects.

However, he added that it is a “work in progress”.

“We still want to know how the NTA will reduce the incoming traffic.

“We suggested that they should introduce congestion charges as the area between the canals is very built up and the traffic is funnelled there, it gets very narrow at the bottom of Stoneybatter,” he said.

Councillor Costello also suggested free peak hour tickets on public transport to solve the congestion issue.

He added that the 3km diversion for private motorists is not “carbon attractive”.

“We’ll be seeking clarifications on all of those points and see how the NTA will resolve them. We’re happy with the improvements but it’s a work in progress,” he added.

Spokesperson for the Bus Connects project Grainne Mackin explained to Independent.ie that the plans are “not fully defined or refined”.

“These are not the revised plans and it all will be up for public consultation, full design in November and then a planning application will be made in 2020,” she said.

“Nothing had been decided and nothing is in lockdown.

“We’re trying to increase cycling and bus lanes and the 3km diversion is the maximum length that a driver will have to do.

“The 3km is the worst case scenario,” she added.

Ms Mackin added that a full public consultation process will take place in November. The NTA will then seek planning permission in 2020.

“An Bord Pleanala will have the final say.

“We have had some very positive feedback from residents in Stoneybatter and there has been positive feedback about the green plaza.

“It’s a balancing act of maximising green space, increasing bus and cycle lanes and catering for motorists,” she added.

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