BusConnects redesign could save front gardens – Eamon Ryan

‘Throttle back’ on cars and maintain bus facilities to leave homes intact - Green Party chief

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said: “I am in favour of BusConnects, but I feel the way that BusConnects is being designed doesn’t take into account sufficiently the creation of place.”  File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said: “I am in favour of BusConnects, but I feel the way that BusConnects is being designed doesn’t take into account sufficiently the creation of place.” File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Front gardens and trees could be saved if the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) BusConnects plans were redesigned, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said.

The Green Party is calling for public transport investment to be increased to two thirds of the Department of Transport’s infrastructure budget.

Just €8.6 billion of the department’s €40.6 billion infrastructure expenditure is allocated to public transport, and no public transport projects are currently under construction, Mr Ryan said.

Large-scale investment in urban, interurban and rural bus systems was essential, he said, but this did not mean homeowners should have to lose their front gardens or that historic railings or mature trees should be removed.

“I am in favour of BusConnects, but I feel the way that BusConnects is being designed doesn’t take into account sufficiently the creation of place.”

The plans should be redesigned to “throttle back” the provision for cars while maintaining bus and cycle facilities and leaving residences intact, he said.

“Rather than always having a four-lane solution, you could use traffic lights [to give buses and cyclists priority]. In that way you may not have to take out the front gardens.”

Period homes

Large numbers of residents, particularly those with period homes in Dublin 4 and Dublin 6, have opposed plans to remove parts of their gardens to accommodate dedicated bus corridors to the city centre.

Dr Lorraine D’Arcy, transport and mobility lecturer at TU Dublin (formerly DIT), who spoke at the Green Party event in Leinster House on Wednesday, said the BusConnects engineering drawings were being viewed by the public as “an end product”, instead of part of a consultation process.

However, she said there was a tendency to design “carchitecture” where roads were designed with the car in mind, and cycling and walking infrastructure, even where present, was hostile and isolating.

“If it’s not comfortable, people are not going to use it, and then it’s just a waste of money,” she said.

Government “mismanagement” of transport was creating ever more debilitating gridlock and risking future fines for emissions, Mr Ryan said. Investment in public transport would ease congestion, reduce commuting times and connect communities, he said.

“We are on the road to nowhere. Not a single public transport project is under construction at the moment, or due to start anytime soon. At the same time over 50 national roads are either being built or due to start soon.”