Monday 17 June 2019

Frank Coughlan: 'Throwing an entire village under the bus'

'The NTA’s blueprint would turn the village into little more than a soulless bus corridor'
'The NTA’s blueprint would turn the village into little more than a soulless bus corridor'
Frank Coughlan

Frank Coughlan

Spare me Nimbys. You know, the sort of people who want social justice and fair play everywhere except down their own leafy avenue.

There is such a thing as the common good but in the Age of Me, the rights of the individual often elbow out those of wider society.

So when I heard of the National Transport Authority's (NTA) radical plans to make Dublin Bus run on time, in a city that traditionally has indulged the belching motor car at the cost of public transport, I was more than enthusiastic.

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In my book, anyone who drives their little runabout or SUV tank into the centre of our capital every day needs to have a lie down, preferably on the couch of an eminent head doctor.

What would possess you, other than a stress fetish?

But you can't make a fluffy omelette without cracking open a few eggs and it was always inevitable that creating arteries for buses to glide down translates into disruption and discombobulation for many along the way.

Some of it would be temporary. A lot of dust, nuisance noise and diversions. More of it would be more permanent of course. Some trees would become logs and pretty greens would retreat to return as tarmacadam.

That's the reality. Not pretty but, in extreme circumstances, necessary. People need to get to work in the mornings and back home in time for bedtime stories.

Then I experienced my Damascus moment. In Shankill.

This pretty village, in deepest south county Dublin bordering woolly-back Wickla, found a new lease of life after the M11 bypassed it all those years ago.

Before that I remember it as being a tad shabby and in need of a new wardrobe. Today it thrives.

Now Bus Connects has plans for it that go more than a few stops too far.

In fact, the NTA's blueprint would turn the village into little more than a soulless bus corridor, eating up swathes of its living and recreational space without giving much back by way of a better service.

Shankill's two-lane road is currently lined by trees, hedges and the heritage stone walls which have won Tidy Town gongs and admiration from casual passers-by like me who occasionally trundle through on the upper deck of a 145.

Much, if not all, of this would appear to be under imminent threat.

This isn't about the whines of the few challenging the rights of the many. It's about an entire community.

In fact, to this outsider with no axe to grind, it looks little short of premeditated vandalism.

I don't know the answer, but if ripping the heart out of a bustling village for the sake of a couple of bus lanes is the preferred one, then someone is obviously asking the wrong question.

Good luck to the Greens - but road ahead is long

General elections are like World Cups where you get to park yourself in front of the telly for weeks on end calling out silly own goals and nasty late tackles.

The Euros and Locals can't match that, of course, but they still demand compulsive bingeing.

I was all eyes over the weekend and while I can't say I anticipated the Greens victoriously cycling over the brow of the hill tinkling their carbon-neutral bells, I wasn't too surprised either.

Every election now, be it here or abroad, throws up another preferred solution to the political malaise that the West is drowning in.

Good luck to the Greens, but anyone who thinks a nation which can't be arsed to pay for precious water has suddenly found its eco-conscience is at least one recycling bin short of a full load.

Irish Independent

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