Bus lanes to remain off-limits to motorists during strike

Decision based on fact many private bus operators and taxis will still be using lanes

An  empty bus lane at College Green in  Dublin city centre today. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

An empty bus lane at College Green in Dublin city centre today. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Mon, Aug 5, 2013, 17:33

Bus lanes will not be opened up for drivers tomorrow if the Dublin Bus strike continues, according to the Department of Transport.

A spokesman said the decision was based on the fact that many private bus operators and taxis will still be using the lanes.

However, the spokesman also added that if it was necessary this decision could change.

When Dublin Bus went on strike in 2000, all road users were permitted to use bus lanes. At the time, the AA noted this helped to avoid potential gridlock.

The two day strike has discommoded both locals and those visiting the capital, which has raised concerns amongst the city’s business community.

Chief executive of the Dublin City Business Improvement District (BID), Richard Guiney, said 42 per cent of shoppers use Dublin Bus to access the city centre. This compares to about 10 per cent each for the Luas and DART.

“It’s the single largest mode of transport that is used to access the city,” he said, adding that a continuation of the strike would be a “significant concern”.

Mr Guiney added that since the economic downturn shoppers have started to shop more for specific purposes, which leads to peaks and troughs in business.

“The peaks are more pronounced when compared to the boom times,” he said. “People are almost set that they are going to do certain shopping at certain times of the year”.

Mr Guiney noted that a prolonged strike over the next few weeks may cause businesses to lose out on “peak” back to school shopping and was also concerned that customers may take their business to suburban shopping centres such as Dundrum, Blanchardstown or Liffey Valley.

“We would do better from public transport than the out of town shopping centres,” he said. “Dundrum Shopping Centre would be very heavily car dependent. Roughly 80 per cent of people going there would be car users.”

In relation to how the strike will affect tourism, Mr Guiney said it “doesn’t send a great message” to people who want to come and visit the capital.

BID’s preliminary figures suggest footfall in the city was steady over the weekend but added that more detailed information on the strike’s impact will be gathered.

Director of Retail Ireland, Stephen Lynam, said city centre retailers cannot sustain a prolonged absence of public transport when retailers continue to face “sky high” rates, rents and utility costs.

“Sales are already suffering as a result of the slowdown in consumer demand,” he said. “This dispute must be resolved as soon as possible or stores may close”.

Mr Lynam and Mr Guiney have called for both sides to settle the dispute.

According to Dublin City Business Association (DCBA) more than 156,000 people are employed in capital’s central business district, which represents about 7.7 per cent of national employment.

The district also accounts for about 10 per cent of Ireland’s output and attracts about €1.45 billion in annual tourism revenue.

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