Saturday 21 September 2019

Paul Melia: 'Debate must be driven by facts - and not fears'

 

'There is no debate about Dublin’s congestion problem. The argument only rests on the best way to tackle it.' Stock image
'There is no debate about Dublin’s congestion problem. The argument only rests on the best way to tackle it.' Stock image
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

It's the households at risk of losing their gardens that might be expected to shout loudest in opposition to the Bus Connects plan.

But most criticism will probably come from motorists forced to find new ways of getting to work as traffic movements are changed, streets become for public transport and cycling only, and road space is given over to bus and bike.

There is no debate about Dublin's congestion problem. The argument only rests on the best way to tackle it.

But it's clear that transport planners cannot stand still. There is no quick fix, and for cost reasons alone putting roads underground isn't an option. The Dublin Port Tunnel cost more than €200m per kilometre.

The only solution is to make best use of the road space the city has. And that means prioritising modes of transport that carry the highest number of commuters, meaning bus, tram and bike are king, and the car takes a back seat.

No one likes change, but that doesn't mean Bus Connects will have a negative impact on everyone.

The affected homeowners stand to lose up to four metres of their front or rear gardens. An inconvenience, definitely. But while some believe it will mean a bus will be closer to their home than before if the plan goes ahead, that's not necessarily the case.

This plan envisages 16 corridors which will provide priority for public transport and bike. These are already heavily trafficked routes.

Beside each house will be a footpath, then a cycle path, then the bus lane and then a lane for general traffic. In many cases, buses will be further away from front doors than today.

That's not to say that people won't have concerns. They will, and they have to be listened to and their issues addressed.

But what shouldn't happen is a backlash led by ignorance. People must read the plans. They need to consider the wider societal benefits of change. They need to weigh up whether the loss of a couple of metres of garden is made up by a better transport service to serve them and their neighbours.

We have seen too many cases where political considerations take precedence over long-term planning. That should not be allowed to happen. No scaremongering please. Instead, honest and open debate, informed by the facts.

Irish Independent

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