The first public bus service for Dublin's Phoenix Park has had to be put on hold after it emerged the park's historic gates are too narrow for buses.
The new bus route was to run from Heuston Station to Broombridge Station in Cabra, serving Dublin Zoo and the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre.
The route was a key component of the Phoenix Park Transport and Mobility study published in January of last year. Minister of State for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Patrick O'Donovan said it was "disappointing" a pilot bus service had not started and urged the National Transport Authority (NTA) to find a solution.
The Cabra gate on the park’s north side was to be closed to cars and used for a dedicated exit for buses. Traffic changes that came into force in the park on Monday included a one-way system for cars from the Cabra gate to the zoo, but the closure of the gate for the pilot service did not go ahead.
A spokesman for the NTA said it had transpired the Cabra gate was “too narrow for a standard single or double-deck bus, and for that reason NTA and OPW are looking at options”.
However, Mr O’Donovan said the NTA needed to resolve the problem.
“The OPW don’t drive buses and the OPW don’t provide buses,” he said. “We want the bus service to go ahead. We have provided a route, and it is something I said at the very start was going to be a requirement.”
The NTA needed to provide a “specific type of a bus” he said. “The gates are protected structures and a double decker bus isn’t going to fit through them, so there is a requirement on the NTA to come forward with financial resources for the provision of the buses required to manage those routes.”
Public transport was essential to capitalise on the investment the OPW had made on walking, cycling and traffic reduction measures in the park, he said.
“It [the bus service] should be going ahead and as far as I’m concerned it’s disappointing that it hasn’t.
The NTA was “actively looking at a range of options with a view to bringing forward proposals in the coming months,” the spokesman said. “The implementation of any pilot programme will be contingent on a number of factors including the availability of funding.”
A 30km/h speed limit was introduced in the park on Monday and a stretch of just under 1km on Upper Glen Road, the park’s main southern road, was made car-free, in addition to the new one-way system on North Road from the Cabra gate.