Restrictions on Dublin Bus access to College Green on Monday led to "minor" improvements in the delays that have become a daily occurrence in the area since the new Luas line opened before Christmas.
AA Roadwatch reported a slight improvement in traffic outside Trinity College on Monday as seventeen Dublin Bus routes were diverted away from the area for the first time as a measure to alleviate congestion.
A spokeswoman for Dublin Bus said there were “improvements in journey times” during the morning peak rush on routes which have been “realigned”. Dublin Bus will continue to monitor how effective the changes are in the coming days, she added.
A number of bus routes that usually travel through College Green and Westmoreland Street were rerouted via Tara Street and Burgh Quay while Xpresso routes, which only operate at rush hour, ceased to serve stops on D'Olier Street, Nassau Street, Kildare Street and Merrion Row.
“The change might improve as time goes on and should definitely have an effect but I don’t think anyone will have noticed a substantial change,” said Barry Alworth, from AA Roadwatch. Following a walk around the area on Monday morning, this journalist saw little change in the gridlock along Westmoreland Street, College Street and towards Nassau Street. While the number of Dublin Bus vehicles may have dropped slightly, the presence of private bus companies and taxis only further exacerbated the problem.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) said on Monday it was monitoring the impact of the route changes but that it was too early to make a full assessment of their impact on traffic. It added that if delays persisted further changes to bus routes and possible taxi restrictions would follow.
Joe Herron, president of the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation, said it would be "grossly unfair" if restrictions were introduced which allowed buses to enter the College Green area and not taxis.
“It would be crazy if we had to do two or three times the distance to cross from one side of the Liffey to other. It’s a busy area for taxi business and if we couldn’t go through there we’d have to go all the way up the quays to Parliament Street and come back around.”
Mr Herron also called for restrictions on private bus companies operating in the area.
Dermot O’Gara, head of public affairs at the NTA, said last week that the “interim measures” would remain in place until there was more clarity around the proposed public plaza for the area.
A public hearing on plans to build a €10 million pedestrian and cycle plaza was cancelled earlier this month. The plaza project would mean all traffic, including buses and taxis, would be banned from accessing Dame Street through College Green.
Under EU rules which came into force last May Dublin City Council will have to reissue the notice, and give another 30 days for the public to assess the material, before any hearing can take place.
An Bord Pleanála told The Irish Times the hearing was expected to be rescheduled in March but that an exact date had not been set.