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Open City aims to keep festive traffic flowing

WITH 460,000 people expected to descend on Dublin every day in the build-up to Christmas, gardai have begun Operation Open City to keep things moving.

Measures to avoid traffic congestion are being rolled out as part of a plan that will see the introduction of additional bus and Luas services.

There will also be a garda clampdown on driving in bus lanes and the provision of quick response teams to keep traffic moving.

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A major drive to get shoppers and workers going into the city centre to leave their cars at home and use public transport instead has also been launched.

Operation Open City is rolled out annually, and will be particularly important this year with retailers expecting bumper business with shoppers tipped to spend more than €4bn by December 25.

Among the measures, garda traffic officers will patrol the city's arterial routes, car parks and main shopping districts during peak commuting and shopping times.

There will also be a clampdown on vehicles obstructing bus lanes, Luas tracks and clearways as well as the provision or a rapid-response towing service to quickly clear breakdown incidents.

In addition, two garda rapid-response teams based north ad south of the city will be on call to respond to critical incidents.

Various events are also being targeted to ensure the free flow of traffic, including the Elton John concert tonight in the 3Arena and Madness who play the same venue on December 16.

Additional night-time bus and Luas services will also be in operation.

Gardai will use social network sites including Twitter to update motorists on driving conditions around the city.

The National Roads Authority, the National Transport Authority and Dublin's four local authorities are involved in implementing the plan.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said congestion on Dublin's streets is always worst in the build-up to Christmas, but new technologies made it easier for people to use public transport.

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"We have made numerous advances in recent years in making public transport a more attractive option," he said.

"The introduction of Real Time Passenger Information, as well as the broad use of social media, means that commuters are better able to plan the journey ahead than ever before."

Figures for last year showed almost 23 million shoppers visited Dublin city between November 4 and Christmas Eve, with the seven weeks before Christmas accounting for 35c of some shops' annual takings.

hnews@herald.ie


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