The Dublin City Centre Transport Plan, that aims to create a “low traffic city centre”, with space reallocated to public transport, cycling and walking, has received support from most parties on Dublin City Council.
However, several councillors have criticised the communication around the plan, with some accusing council officials of running a “flawed” public consultation process.
The strategy developed by Dublin City Council and the National Transport Authority (NTA) aims to “remove traffic that has no destination in the city”, with currently almost two out of every three motorists passing through rather than stopping in town.
Councillors were not required to vote on the plan, the first elements of which will be implemented this year. However, while councillors from the Green Party, Labour, Sinn Féin, Fine Gael, the Social Democrats and People Before Profit spoke in favour of the strategy on Monday night, several said there had not been adequate public consultation on the plan.
In excess of 3,500 submissions were received in a public consultation process and more than 80 per cent of submissions were supportive.
However, Independent councillor Nial Ring said the process was “quite flawed”.
“It was not inclusive and it was discriminatory,” he said, and was “deliberately designed to exclude” older people. He maintained it was “clandestine, covert and suspicious”.
His Independent colleague Christy Burke said it was “underhanded and covert”. There are “a huge number of people who can’t use computers”, he added.
Several Green Party, Labour and some Fine Gael councillors said they had made their constituents aware of the plan.
Fine Gael councillor Paddy McCartan said the transport plan had been subject to debate at the council’s transport committee “over a number of months”.
Labour’s Darragh Moriarty said a wider public communication campaign is needed so that people are aware of the measures and what the changes will involve “but I think we can all get behind making our city more livable”, he said.
Under the plan, a bus gate on Bachelors Walk, on the north side of the Liffey close to O’Connell Bridge, will stop cars and lorries from heading towards O’Connell Street, the Custom House and the docklands. Another bus gate on Aston Quay on the south side will stop private traffic from travelling from O’Connell Bridge in the direction of Heuston Station.
Private traffic will also be stopped turning left from Westland Row on to Pearse Street, with vehicles instead having to turn right and move away from the city. This would require a new two-way traffic section from Westland Row to Sandwith Street. This change should result in significantly less traffic on Pearse Street heading towards Tara Street, allowing a reduction in traffic lanes and the introduction of two-way cycle lanes.
These measures will be implemented this summer.
Once they are in place, the reduction in cars in the city will allow the council to implement other parts of the plan. This includes the creation of civic plazas near the Custom House and Lincoln Place near the back entrance to Trinity College, as well as making Parliament Street traffic-free and the full realisation of the College Green plaza.
Some businesses have raised concerns about their operations.
Diageo, which owns the Guinness brewery, said blocking access to Bachelors Walk and Aston Quay would force its lorries to take circuitous routes to Dublin port, resulting in increased journey times, up to 927 more tonnes of CO2 emissions, road safety risks and additional costs of up to €2.2 million a year.
Stanberry Investment Limited, who own the Grafton Carpark, was “strongly opposed to the plan” which it said “actively seeks to close” its business and would “decimate city centre retail business”.