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Traffic ban proposed for Dublin city centre

A report in today’s Sunday Business Post (below) gives some more information on the proposal that has been floating about recently on reducing private motor vehicles from the centre of Dublin. While this is obviously an attempt at kite flying, any plan to reduce cars from the city centre, increase space on the roads for buses and to provide more buses to use that space, sounds good to us. However, we are very, very, suspicious of plans to hand some Dublin Bus routes to private operators. What are the chances that parts of the plan drop off due to negative calls to Joe Duffy, while the privatisation element remains?

And while we’re at it, if some routes will be run by Dublin Bus and some by private operators then the introduction by Dublin Bus of smartcards means absolutely nothing, since only Dublin Bus and one private operator are equipped to take the tickets. As usual, the newspaper article below doesn’t mention this, merely reprinting whatever press release passed the newsdesk.

Nicola Cooke of the Sunday Business Post writes:

Parts of Dublin city centre could be closed to traffic within 12 months, under a radical plan to tackle the capital’s congestion problem.

Under the new bus strategy, from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, a ‘‘bus gate’’ would be created at College Green by April 2009. This would lead to private traffic being banned from O’Connell Street , Dame Street, College Green and Westmoreland Street.

Two temporary steel bridges would be erected at Macken Street and Hawkins Street or Marlborough Street, to ensure a traffic flow. Dublin City Council has told the committee that such bridges could be lifted into place within three months, with bus priority lanes created.

The Sunday Business Post also understands that 350 new buses would be subcontracted from the private sector. And some routes currently serviced by both Dublin Bus and the private sector would be given exclusively to the private sector.

The bus strategy, which was passed by the 15-member committee last Thursday, will be finalised next week, before it is presented to transport minister Noel Dempsey. Other proposals in the report include:

  • increasing cash fares to encourage use of a smartcard, which Dublin Bus said it could introduce by December
  • extending Railway Order legislation to include Quality Bus Corridors (QBCs)
  • allowing buses and taxis to use the port tunnel at a reduced rate
  • converting some motorway hard shoulders to QBCs.

The aim of the bus strategy is to increase, from 20 per cent to 80 per cent, the number of commuters who travel to the city by bus.

A major marketing campaign of bus transport would be required to reverse the current trend, according to the draft strategy, and increase passengers from 148 million to 200 million.

The Dublin Transport Office is envisaged to have a role in the introduction of workplace travel plans to all city centre private and public employers, as part of any such campaign.

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