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

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

A series of measures to avoid traffic congestion are being rolled out as part of a plan that will see additional bus and Luas services.

Meanwhile, there will be a garda clampdown on driving in bus lanes and the provision of quick response teams to keep Dublin's city streets moving over the festive period.

There is also a major drive to get some of the shoppers and workers going inot the city centre to leave the car at home and use public transport instead.

The operation is rolled out annually and will be particularly important this year with retailers expecting a bumper haul and shoppers tipped to shell out more than €4bn come 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 quick response teams, based north ad south of the city, will also be on call to respond to critical incidents while various events over the festive period 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 as part of the campaign to encourage people to use public transport.

Gardai will also be using social network sites like Twitter to update motorists on driving conditions around the city.

The operation is put in place annually and was previously known as 'Operation Freeflow'.

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 that new technologies made it easier for people to avail of public transport.

"We have made numerous advances in recent years in making public transport a more attractive option. 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 23m consumers visited Dublin city between November 4 and Christmas Eve with the seven weeks before Christmas accounting for up to 35c of some businesses annual turnover.


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