Dublin Bus chief urges city council executive not to ‘water down’ Dublin City Centre Transport Plan

Several hundred people attend protest outside City Hall seeking full implementation of traffic measures

Dublin Bus chief executive Billy Hann says bus lanes are only effective if in operation for 24 hours a day. Photograph: Getty Images

Chief executive of Dublin Bus Billy Hann has urged Dublin city management not to “water down” the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan.

The plan, designed to tackle Dublin’s traffic gridlock, should be implemented on time next month and in full “as originally planned”, he said.

Mr Hann spoke following the council’s recent decision to reduce the plan’s restrictions, and an announcement by council chief executive Richard Shakespeare he was considering a request by some businesses and politicians to delay implementation to March or April next year.

Mr Hann said he had grave concerns the plan would disappear if it was delayed until after the next general election.


Meanwhile, several hundred people attended a protest outside City Hall on Monday evening seeking the full and on-time implementation of the plan.

The protest, which filled Castle Street, was organised by a group of civil society bodies including the Irish Heart Foundation, the Dublin Commuter Coalition, An Taisce, Irish Doctors for the Environment, the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice and a number of cycling campaign groups.

Mr Shakespeare has reversed an earlier decision not to meet the group and is due to meet them this week.

When published last year, the plan included 24-hour “bus gates” on Bachelors Walk and Aston Quay restricting passage to public transport only.

Dublin city councillors were last Monday told the restrictions would only apply 7am-7pm daily, and although private motorists would not be permitted to drive directly east and west along the Liffey Quays at O’Connell Bridge, only a 50m section of Aston Quay would be inaccessible to cars.

Time-governed bus lanes are ineffective, Mr Hann said.

“Our experience is if you have certain time periods on bus lanes, we invariably find those bus lanes are used by car drivers no matter what time of the day. Whereas if you have a blanket 24-hour bus lane people tend to adhere to it,” he said. “Unless there’s strong enforcement and strong monitoring, it’s going to fail, so it’s best to avoid it.”

Instead of reducing the restrictions faced by motorists during the hours of operation of the bus gates, Mr Hann said it would make more sense to implement the original plan, and establish a monitoring group to recommend any required adjustments.

“We are already putting in mitigations but we don’t really know are they needed or not needed. The actual plan itself went to full consultation ... so I can’t see why we’re not just implementing it in full, with a review period to make any adjustments or changes if there are any unintended consequences,” he said.

“The quays are a real bottleneck for us and we would prefer [to have a review] than a watered-down or slimmed-down version of the plan.”

Following the intervention in recent weeks by Fine Gael Minister of State for Enterprise Emer Higgins, the council met a number of city business groups, including car park owners. Mr Shakespeare said he had been asked to delay implementing the plan from August to March or April 2025, and to consider an economic impact study commissioned by the City Centre Traders Alliance.

Any delay was “a vote for more congestion in Dublin city”, Mr Hann said.

“One of the biggest obstacles we have to a reliable and punctual bus services is congestion in the city,” he said. “If we keep with the status quo, it’s never going to change and we’re going to continuously end up with buses and cars in gridlock.

“So for us it’s important they get this thing in place as soon as possible. Once we start to go into election cycle, if it’s kicked into 2025, my big concern is that’s it for the plan. That’s really something I’d like to avoid.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times