Tuesday 23 October 2018

Ross under fire over revamp of bus network

Shane Ross
Shane Ross
Look, no driver: Jamie Cudden, Dublin Smart City manager, Neil Cunningham, CEO of the capital Civic Group and Owen Keegan, city chief executive, Dublin City Council inspect Ireland’s first driverless public transport vehicle, the EZ10. It features in the ‘Future of Mobility’ event on North Wall Quay today from 11am to 5pm. Picture: Andres Poveda
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Transport minister Shane Ross has been accused of seeking to "duck responsibility" for the controversial overhaul of bus routes in the capital.

Mr Ross has come under fire over the BusConnects plan amid claims he sought to distance himself from the project at a residents' association meeting in his Dublin-Rathdown constituency.

During the week he faced pressure in the Dáil after Fianna Fáil tabled a motion calling for the protection of Dublin Bus services.

Fine Gael TDs also raised serious concerns over the BusConnects plan at a private party meeting on Wednesday night with fears it could become as politically dangerous as the water charges fiasco.

Political parties have held public consultation meetings on the proposals which are overseen by the National Transport Authority.

Communities around the city have expressed concern at proposed changes to routes serving their neighbourhoods.

The public consultation period ends on September 28.

The 'Irish Times' report claims Mr Ross told a residents' meeting in his constituency that he had nothing to do with the BusConnects plan, prompting a wave of criticism of the minister.

Fianna Fáil's Dublin spokesman John Lahart told the Irish Independent the "mind boggled" and added the plan was in the Government's Project Ireland 2040 initiative.

His party colleague Robert Troy said the NTA was answerable to Mr Ross but claimed: "When backed into a corner in his own backyard he tries to duck responsibility."

Asleep

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys claimed Mr Ross was "asleep at the wheel on BusConnects".

He argued Mr Ross didn't understand his role if he believed the largest review of public transport seen in Dublin in decades had "nothing to do with him".

Mr Ross told RTÉ Radio that he had told residents at the meeting that he did make Government policy on BusConnects and transport, but he didn't "micro-manage" details such as the routes proposed on a map that was on display that night.

He later said he would make a submission on the BusConnects project as a TD, not as a minister.

Mr Ross last night declined to respond to opposition attacks on him saying the BusConnects issue was "above politics".

He told the Irish Independent: "The important thing is that people participate in the public consultation process in order to change the parts of this BusConnects proposal which are a problem for the elderly, children going to school, and students going to university.

"The map was not drawn by me but by the NTA. I have no intention of micro-managing the process.

"It's a good project but there are problems for communities that need to be ironed out."

Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD Noel Rock called on the NTA to extend the public consultation period for the network redesign "to ensure we have the best possible bus network".

He said extending the process would "improve the prospects of a positive outcome".

Irish Independent

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