Revealed: Private cars to be delayed under Bus Connects plan
BUS priority plans for Dublin will result in longer journey times for commuters reliant on the private car, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has said.
Speaking at the Dáil Transport Committee, chief executive Anne Graham said the Bus Connects programme was designed to reduce bus journey times by up to 50pc, but the plans would result in delays for private motorists accessing the city centre.
Bus Connects is aimed at developing 230kms of dedicated bus lane and 200kms of cyclepaths across the city.
Under the changes, some roads may become one-way, new bus-only sections will be introduced and traffic changes made for private cars.
The NTA has also said that restricting space for private cars effectively acted as a congestion charge.
Chief executive Anne Graham said levels of congestion were “undermining” attempts to deliver a “fast, reliable and predictable” bus service.
“From the perspective of public transport, congestion is a major problem,” she said. “On the busiest bus routes, bus lanes are only in place for less than one third of the corridor. This means that for most of the journey, buses are competing for space with general traffic and so are also affected by the increasing levels of congestion.
“Additional buses are being added to the system simply to compensate for delays in journey times.
“The proposals we’re putting forward are about giving priority to public transport, which means space won’t be available to provide car users. That may result in longer journeys for those using their car.
“But we are about improving bus priority. We wouldn’t be proposing something that would make it worse for buses.”
The NTA also said that gardens would be compulsorily acquired to build the 16 high-capacity bus corridors.
Up to 1,300 homeowners may be forced to give up part of their gardens to accommodate wider bus corridors and cycle routes, but the final number would only emerged after a detailed public consultation and when final designs were approved.
“When you’re beyond one or two people you will need compulsory purchase orders,” NTA deputy chief executive Hugh Creegan said. “Our intention is to deal with people properly and fairly. There is no CPO process as yet.”
The NTA says there are few parts of the capital, a “low density city”, which have the populations needed to sustain rail-based public transport.
Dublin Bus carried 137 million passengers last year, with another six million on Bus Éireann services, which highlighted the importance of delivering a high-quality bus network.
By comparison, Dart and commuter rail carried 33 million and Luas 38 million.
Committee members raised concerns about the level of public consultation and impact on affected communities.
The NTA said details of four of the 16 routes were announced last month, with details of all other routes to be announced by mid-February. It was available to meet with affected individuals, and had held 40 meetings to date. It had requested additional resources to drive home the projects,
The information provided to date was the “concept”, Mr Cregan added, saying that final details would be completed following the public consultation, and it was open to making changes.