independent

Friday 22 March 2019

Is it time to have someone else 'have a go' at delivering Metro?

As the Metrolink saga rumbles on, in this opinion piece, the CEO of 'Metro Dublin' proposes a private alternative to the project.

'Metro Dublin' is a proposed, privately funded, mass rapid transit network to serve Ireland's capital city and the country as an alternative to Metrolink and Jed van de Poll, Metro Dublin CEO, explains to The Fingal Independent in this opinion piece why and how it is possible to put this network underground forming a 'backbone' for mobility in Dublin.

Through a desire for a better quality of life and sheer frustration Dubliners' understand their need for a mass transit public transport system.  A 2016 European Commission Report said it well ...that a key weakness in Ireland's economy is the lack of a Dublin mass transit system… critical for competitiveness, environment, quality of life, housing and mandatory emission reduction targets.

Why is Metro Dublin offering an extensive metro network for Dublin? Well - here are just a few reasons;

This year was scheduled to see the completion of 'Metro North' (remember that?).

So far €225 million has been spent on Metro/DART underground planning but not a single shovel of earth has been moved. By the time 2020 comes around (a new date for planning application) the NTA and its progenitors will have spent over 45 years planning a metro for Dublin - don't you think it is about time someone else had a go?

'Metro Dublin' has a grand vision for Dublin transport.

The NTA, on the other hand, have a small vision. Don't get me wrong - it's not that the NTA can't think as big as anyone, it is just that their vision is limited by the size of the public purse. Exchequer borrowings are maxed out. With Ireland's national debt standing at €198 billion (Feb 2018) the European Central Bank will not allow government to further increase this figure. Public infrastructure projects will have to be funded out of current earnings. Since MetroLink will cost somewhere between €3 and €9 billion (witness the 'National Children's Hospital' overrun) this is going to have to be spread over the next ten years. If anyone in the NTA tells you any different ask them to bet their pension on it. The NTA's project methodology binds them to the 'iron law of mega projects' over budget, over time, over and over again. Do not expect to see any ribbon cutting before 2030.

In order to build any metro one must first secure a 'Railway Order' and the progress of all applications is governed by the NTA. Naturally being a government body the NTA would like full control over all that happens in transport infrastructure - but this is not their function. Indeed the NTA establishment Act requires them to actively seek and cooperate with developments such as Metro Dublin which they have, so far, failed to do.

At rush hour Dublin is the ninth most congested city in the world - we are on the verge of gridlock. At any moment the right sort of incident in the wrong place could bring the City centre to a standstill. We need radical thinking to solve Dublin's mobility problems - we need a radical approach. 'Metro Dublin' will build 94 Kilometres of Metro (46 Km underground), 62 station stops, creating 19 major transport hubs, delivering 250 million passenger journeys per year by 2025.

With a nod to (now) Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's desire to see a less expensive solution and his written comment about Metro Dublin in 2014 '…if we could build an underground system in Dublin for significantly less than the Metro North/Dart underground proposals, in a much quicker timeframe and without needing significant subvention then I'd support it unequivocally. As I am sure Dublin City Council's members would as well.'

Metro Dublin won't cost the Irish taxpayer a red cent (net zero or better to the exchequer) and our team (whose Chairman is one of Ireland's most experienced transport civil engineers) is assisted by Prof. Dr. Manuel Melis Maynar. A man who has completed a larger project, in less time and with a smaller budget, Prof. Melis is the world's number one metro builder whose achievements were described by the 'World Bank' as 'superb' and '...from which the whole world could learn' a veritable modern day Brunel. 'Metro Dublin' has already brought Prof. Melis, to meet with Minister of Transport Shane Ross

Imagine for a moment taking 250 million people off Dublin's roads annually. We have been deliberately conservative with our figures.

Munich with a smaller population than Dublin, delivers over 400 million passenger journeys per year with its modern 110 kilometre of metro. Contrary to what people might think, the efficiency of a mass public transport system lies not in population density but in geography.

You have to feed the beast a central underground loop. Six radial lines from Ashbourne, Swords, Donaghmede, Rathfarnham, Adamstown and Blanchardstown will converge on the city centre feeding the underground loop line in the heart of the capital. Because so much of the track is underground no GAA pitch or apartment block or such like will be demolished or disrupted in the building of the network! But the real beauty of such a system is the way in which it links Dublin communities together. Swords with Sandyford, Ashbourne with Adamstown, Blanchardstown with Bray.

The reaction from the authorities to 'Metro Dublin's' proposals has been, to say the least, tepid. Rather than asking 'Metro Dublin' to explain how we are going to achieve our proposals we are met with ridicule and dismissal by the very organisations that have presided over a forty four year hiatus in Dublin's planning for transformative underground transportation.

This level of can't do, inaction and obstruction is what typifies the establishment response to Dublin's need for a joined up mobility infrastructure.

If Dublin is to achieve its stated goal of becoming a 'Smart City' it needs to row in behind a can-do organisation like 'Metro Dublin'.

Dublin City and County will never be 'Smart' until all of its communities are linked by a mass rapid transit network.

Fingal Independent

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