Shops take action against bus corridor

Sat, Oct 17, 2009, 01:00

THIRTEEN Dublin city centre businesses are to take a High Court case against the rush-hour ban on private cars using College Green, claiming that it is causing a critical loss of trade in the busiest three months of the year.

The legal challenge by the businesses, including Brown Thomas and Brown Thomas car park, Louis Copeland, Weirs, Q Park, Park Rite and Trinity Street car park, begins on Monday.

The Dublin City Centre Business Association has claimed that business is down 30 per cent because of the evening ban on private vehicles. They are prevented from using College Green between 7am and 10am and from 4pm to 7pm Monday to Friday.

The association’s chief executive Tom Coffey said the ban was an “irresponsible political action by loony Greens and loony Labour”. He described the ban as a decision “based on ideology rather than reality”.

Mr Coffey said the recession was responsible for a 10 per cent drop in “footfall” or customers in the city centre, and the ban on cars for 20 per cent. He said they did not want the ban introduced until after Christmas, when new bridges across the river would be in place and proper signage.

Green Party transport spokesman Ciarán Cuffe said, however, that Dublin City Council figures had shown a 6 per cent increase in pedestrians and a 62 per cent increase in cyclists on O’Connell Street. “Busgate should not be blamed for the worldwide recession,” he said.

Labour councillor Andrew Montague said “busgate”, as the ban is called, “came right in the middle of the recession. Footfalls in the south city in July dropped 25 per cent and in the month after ‘busgate’ was introduced, they fell 23 per cent.” He said the average speed of the 46A bus had been 5km/h, “and that kills business”, but it was now 15km/h.

Mr Coffey insisted the business association’s statistics were accurate because they were electronically gathered and done daily.