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On time and on budget, or just on the long finger?

Transport 21, the government’s grand vision for transport improvements for Ireland to be delivered by 2010 was set out in front of the media (rather then the Dail) two years ago. It promised much. Among all the hype were promises for extentions to the DART and Luas, and a Metro to the airport (although the specific definition of a Metro was always sketchy). Apart from the re-declaring of previously announced additions to the bus fleet for Dublin, other unspecified improvements to the bus system would have to await the outcome of a review.

We never heard if the review happened, there was certainly no great fanfare around any announcements of extra buses on top of the previously announced ones. But what about the other projects?

Fast forward to the present and it seems that just about every bit of the Tranport 21 plan is failing and nothing will meet it’s deadline, many will not even be finished by 2010 which was the ultimate target for the entire programme of work.

The Sunday Business Post is reporting that DoT (Department of Transport) documents show that many of the projects due to finish in 2008 will now not be completed till 2009 or even 2010. To make matters worse, some key projects may never happen at all. The scheme to finally join up the Red and Green lines of the Luas looks like it is going to be dropped, mainly due to lack of consultation among the government agencies – Dublin Bus were not consulted before the plan was announced, and now it may all grind to a halt since the proposed route passes right through Dublin Bus’ key city centre termini.

Also in danger are the Luas extensions in West Dublin and towards the Point Depot, and Dublin’s new Metro system (which is alleged to have a completion date of 2014). In fact, it appears that far from sorting out the planning process for large infrastructural projects which Seamus “unlicensed driver” Brennan promised some years ago, we are still bogged down in discussions over who’s garden gets turned into train tracks.

“Final completion dates for projects will only be determined when the planning process and contract negotiations have been concluded,” say DoT officials.

That’s right, not only have they still not sorted out planning permission for projects announced two years ago but they are still concluding “contract negotiations”. If you need that further translated, that means they don’t know where they can build the projects, if they can build them and how much they are going to cost. Marvellous.

It’s all the more astonishing when you consider how much contact Fianna Fail have had with developers over the years, these delays wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact those same developers would rather see these projects happen closer to areas where they own land, rather than in the places where the transport experts would prefer? We can but wonder. For now we await the delivery of the public transport improvements that Dublin, and Indeed Ireland, sorely needs.

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