College Green made a ‘catastrophic mess’ by National Transport Authority
City council criticises NTA’s Anne Graham over traffic congestion caused by Luas line
A Luas tram blocks traffic on O’Connell Bridge: Anne Graham “should be apologising to the city of Dublin”, says Cllr Mannix Flynn. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
Dublin’s transport chiefs have been sharply criticised by city councillors for presiding over a “catastrophic mess” in College Green and the wider city, since the introduction of the new cross-city Luas line in December.
National Transport Authority (NTA) chief executive Anne Graham and Dublin Bus chief executive Ray Coyne attended Monday night’s Dublin City Council meeting to answer questions on the city’s worsening traffic problems.
The meeting comes ahead of next week’s An Bord Pleanála hearing on the council’s plans for a €10 million civic plaza, which will result in a ban on all traffic, including buses and taxis, accessing Dame Street through College Green.
Cllr Kieran Binchy (Fine Gael ) said the council had “borne the brunt” of criticism for the state of the city centre when the NTA was to blame.
“We know now who to blame for the mess of College Green, and it is a complete and utter mess,” he said.
The traffic congestion following the introduction of the new tram was utterly predictable, he said.
“Nobody couldn’t have seen this coming. It was clear to everybody the Luas was coming in. Maybe you wanted this to happen so you could use it as a bargaining chip to get other measures through.”
He also criticised Dublin Bus for withdrawing support for the plaza plan. “You were for it until you were against it”.
Apology to city
Cllr Mannix Flynn (Independent) said the city had been “irreparably” damaged by the Luas. “You should be apologising to the city of Dublin for the catastrophic mess that you’ve made,” he told Ms Graham.
Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) said he was “appalled by the lateness” with which the traffic problems were being dealt with.
Green Party councillor Ciarán Cuffe said: “Far too many buses have a homing instinct towards College Green.”
Next Monday, the same day the planning hearing starts, taxis are due to be banned from travelling south through College Green during the morning peak hours in an attempt to alleviate severe traffic jams.
Last month, 17 Dublin Bus routes were diverted from College Green and a further 10 were taken out of the area from Monday of this week, due to the persistent congestion.
Ms Graham told councillors the NTA had undertaken “ a lot of modelling” before the Luas started running, and had taken “very measured steps in making changes to bus and taxi movements” so that bus passengers would be affected to the “least possible extent”.
Dublin Bus has already clashed with council chief executive Owen Keegan after branding the plaza plans “socially regressive”, because passengers from disadvantaged areas would have further to walk to reach the city centre from their final stop, if buses were banned from crossing College Green.
Mr Keegan earlier this year said he was “very, very disappointed” by the bus company’s attitude.
Mr Coyne told councillors that Dublin Bus “never objected to the proposals” but had “offered our views on College Green”. He added the original plans for the plaza were “significantly different from the plans which ended up coming out in the public domain”. He said the company had been preparing for the Luas “for a decade” and had been diverting buses from College Green since 2010.