Sunday 22 April 2018

Eoin O'Malley: Luas chaos illustrates the law of unintended consequences

It's hard to think of a policy where you spend so much to make things worse... until you look around, writes Eoin O'Malley

Birth of a new era: Luas Cross City opens for passengers, with Shane Ross, Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Julien Behal Photography
Birth of a new era: Luas Cross City opens for passengers, with Shane Ross, Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Julien Behal Photography

Eoin O'Malley

'My government spent half-a-billion on a tram system and all I got was this lousy traffic jam." It's not the Luas Cross-City's new marketing T-shirt, but it could be. One Saturday before Christmas, ministers lined up to welcome the shiny new Luas line, hailing it as great progress for Dublin's commuters.

Then came Monday morning. There was horrendous traffic, with even the Taoiseach complaining in the Dail that his journey to work took much longer than usual. That might have been teething problems, but the following months have shown that it wasn't.

Within weeks Dublin transport planners admitted that there were a number of pinch points, where there was more traffic going through a junction than space in that junction. This has led to trams being backed up on O'Connell Street and Dawson Street. Buses have been diverted, adding to their journey times. It appears to have caused further problems for the existing Green line. Senator Neale Richmond complained last week of "lengthy delays becoming the norm for Luas commuters as trams are increasingly overcrowded and frequency is becoming ever more sporadic".

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