Friday 6 December 2019

Residents combine to demand Metro extension to Firhouse

Stock photo
Stock photo

Alan O'Keeffe

More than 20 residents' associations have combined to demand the proposed MetroLink be extended to Firhouse in south-west Dublin.

Revised BusConnects plans still fail to meet the transport needs of the area and only an underground metro train service can satisfy travel needs, claims the coalition of residents' groups.

The original MetroLink proposal was to run from Swords to Sandyford but it was shortened to end at Charlemont, just north of Ranelagh, following objections to that route.

Now 22 residents' associations in south-west Dublin want the National Transport Authority to conduct a feasibility study to extend the proposed route by another 10km to Firhouse.

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"Buses will not meet the transport needs of the region as only 9pc of the population will travel by bus under the BusConnects plan while 70pc will continue to use their cars. A Metro service is needed," said Sean Ward, a spokesperson for the group.

Mr Ward said he recently addressed a group of 11 local TDs on the residents' proposals, stating the estimated cost of the Metro extension could be around €1.6bn. "The TDs told us we were making a very reasonable demand and they supported our aims," he said.

The revised BusConnects plan increases the number of buses from south-west Dublin into the centre at rush hour peak from 7am to 8am by only six buses from 60 to 66, an extra capacity of only 500 passengers, he said.

But the re-routing of bus services will mean the number of buses using the Terenure Road East traffic 'pinch point' will increase from 14 to 26 in the peak hour which will be "unworkable," he claimed.

There are a number of pinch points on roads in the area which mean bus services cannot get through in a timely manner, resulting in the public refusing to switch from cars to bus travel, he said.

"Buses simply lack the capacity to meet the area's transport needs. There is no room for a Luas service on existing roads. So the solution must be travel underground," he said.

The closing date for public submissions on the revised BusConnects network and scheduling plans was extended to Tuesday, December 10. A new set of drawings by BusConnects on a revised plan of changes to street infrastructure and streetscapes is expected to be available by the end of March.

Pauline Foster, who also acts as spokesperson for the residents' coalition, said the attempt to solve transport problems in south-west Dublin with a revised BusConnects plan was "merely an expensive sticking plaster" that will not cure the problem.

A National Transport Authority spokesperson said: "The transport strategy for the Greater Dublin Area is required to be reviewed every six years. Accordingly, the next review will commence in the second half of next year and is due to be completed at the start of 2022.

"As part of that review, there will be an analysis of any changes to population projections, development density, employment forecasts and future travel demand patterns since the finalisation of the current strategy.

"This will feed into a reassessment of the appropriate public transport solution along this corridor, which will include the evaluation of bus, light rail (Luas) and metro options. A metro service, to be economically justifiable, must have a volume of passengers that exceeds the capacity of a bus/bus rapid transit system or a light rail system."

He said the Railway Procurement Agency completed a feasibility study in 2008 on a proposed Luas line from the city centre to Rathfarnham that would serve Harold's Cross, Terenure, Rathfarnham plus Nutgove, terminating at Dundrum. It indicated the number of passengers during the morning peak hour by 2016 would be in the order of 850 in one direction, compared with about 5,000 on the Green Line at present, he said.

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