College Green may become a no-go area for all non-Luas transport
Possible ban on taxis to cost users as Luas ramps up from 22 to 40 trams per hour
Traffic on College Street joined by Pearse Street traffic and D’Olier Street heading towards College Green. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Dublin’s College Green to O’Connell Bridge area faces being a no-go area for other forms of public transport following the introduction of Luas Cross City and a concurrent delay in bus times.
An analysis of journey times on three days last week shows Luas in the city centre is capable of consistently crossing the problematical centre city, from St Stephen’s Green to Westmoreland Street, in just five minutes during peak times.
But on these occasions buses and taxis coming from D’Olier Street and Pearse Street were backed up. Significant queues were also visible on the Dame Street approach to College Green where traffic lights for buses were red to allow the tram cross.
Now a city council study has shown that bus journey times in the central area are as low as 1.7 kilometres per hour.
Some journey times have more than doubled since January 2017, the study shows.
Council management has suggested as much as 40 per cent of Dublin Bus routes may have to be taken out of College Green, particularly as Luas is currently only able to achieve 22 services per hour at peak times instead of a planned 40 services per hour.
The council said there is just “not enough time for everything” in College Green but chairman of the council’s Strategic Transport Policy Committee Ciarán Cuffe has defended the bus as the workhorse of the public transport system.
Following an incident on O’Connell Bridge where a 55-metre tram was forced to stop with its rear carriages protruding across a yellow box junction, Mr Cuffe said it may be necessary to ban taxis from key streets, at least at peak times.
But moves to remove buses and taxis from the Luas corridor are likely to be strongly resisted by Dublin Bus and taxi drivers. For the taxis the detour would mean additional costs with increased journey times adding to fares.
One driver said that the Westmoreland Street access to Temple Bar was very important for passengers going to the airport and without it taxi drivers would have to do a significant detour along the west-bound quays and back along the north quays.
For the buses alternative routes are not easy to find. Recent diversions to Burgh Quay for example have encountered more congestion there.
There were near-gridlock conditions from the O’Connell Bridge junction along Burgh Quay across traffic lights at the Rosie Hackett Bridge and the Tara Street junction, with lines of traffic stretching along Tara and Pearse Streets and on the quays as far back as the Matt Talbot bridge.
The National Transport Authority is due to hold talks with the city council on the issue tomorrow amid comments from Transport Infrastructure Ireland that it is to be involved with the council on traffic light sequencing.
A presentation on the issues surrounding city centre traffic is to be made to the council members at the March monthly meeting.
Dublin City Council is also seeking to ultimately pedestrianise a large part of College Green, but this is being resisted by businesses in the centre city area.