Busiest day of the year on Dublin’s roads as we head back to work
It’s the busiest day of the year for traffic in Dublin as workers finally return to the office after an extended break.
Hundreds of thousands of commuters will take to the capital’s roads as traffic returns to its bumper-to-bumper log-jam following the Christmas and New Year break.
“It’s the busiest Monday since the Christmas period,” said Elaine O’Sullivan, acting editor of AA Roadwatch.
She warned that motorists and bus users will see a noticeable increase in traffic today compared with the past few weeks.
Schoolchildren may have returned to their classes last week, but experience has shown that many parents wait until the following Monday to return to work.
The worst, however, may yet be to come.
“We’re not expecting traffic patterns to fully return to normal until the colleges are back,” said Elaine.
On average, around 500,000 people travel within Dublin city centre every, and traffic congestion levels are rising rapidly.
By 2023, an additional 42,000 journeys are expected to take place every morning across the city’s transport network, including motorists and public transport users.
If even 20pc of these additional trips were made by car, it would represent an increase of 8,500 cars on the road during the morning peak hours.
A busy hub within Dublin City Council’s (DCC) offices is in the eye of the storm when it comes to monitoring how traffic is moving.
A team of 11 staff work in shifts around the clock to monitor traffic in the council’s area.
They also look after parts of Dun Laoghaire and Rathdown in terms of their traffic lights and CCTV.
The big screens in the nerve centre give a bird’s eye view of traffic on different routes, with 280 cameras capturing a wealth of information.
“The primary role is to manage the road network in the city,” said centre supervisor Andrew Harris.
“We look out for any incidents, obstructions or delays, whether it’s faulty traffic lights, accidents, breakdowns or protests. It could be floods, snow, trees down or oil spills or concerts or events at Croke Park.
“We would liaise with a lot of third parties including gardai and Dublin Bus.
“The idea is that if there’s an obstruction, we need to make people aware of it and get rid of it as soon as possible so we can get the road network back to full capacity.
“Through experience, you know what’s normal traffic and what’s unusual.
“We do have a traffic light system called SCATS, an Australian system – the Sydney Co-ordinated Adaptive Traffic System. Sydney has quite a
different layout. We’re a medieval city, but the system is basically making live changes to the traffic lights.
“It’s actually counting the number of cars coming across loop-sensors in the road and making calculations in terms of giving less time or more time to particular routes.”
Certain routes will get priority, but it varies from location to location, said Andrew.
“So the system is actually making the changes automatically,” he added.
“The beauty of the system is it allows us to over-ride it when we see an unusual build-up and we know that if we don’t intervene we’re going to have an even bigger problem.
“We can actually decide for 10 minutes, 20 minutes or an hour, say, to give extra time to a particular route to free it up which will ultimately keep other routes free as well.”
DCC and the National Transport Authority (NTA) embarked on a consultation last year aimed at addressing the transport issues facing the core city centre area.
The aim is to ensure that Dublin’s transport network is primed to cater for growth in activity as the economic recovery continues.
Of the journeys within the city centre every day, 235,000 are work-related trips, 45,000 education trips and 120,000 are visitors, tourists and shoppers.
Around 48pc of people travel into the city centre by public transport, 33pc by car and 16pc walk or cycle.