NTA concedes two route changes in BusConnects plan

Transport authority reveals it has already received 15,000 submissions from the public

Minister for Transport Shane Ross: Fully committed to the BusConnects project. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for the Irish Times

Minister for Transport Shane Ross: Fully committed to the BusConnects project. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for the Irish Times

 

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has said it will be revisiting at least two routes in its revision of the controversial BusConnects plan.

The NTA revealed it has already received about 15,000 submissions from the public a week before the consultation period ends on September 28th, and it expects this figure to rise to 20,000.

The authority is already planning to reconsider two Dublin Bus routes – the No 1, which serves routes between Santry and Sandymount, and the 33x, which serves much of north county Dublin into the city centre, before it publishes a final network design.

Gráinne Mackin, head of communications for BusConnects, said these routes have been identified “that we will have to go back and look at”.

Ms Mackin said due to the “huge number” of submissions received, a revised final network design will likely be published in January 2019.

“The submissions will all be read individually and core themes will be emerging, like what specific routes are being highlighted, what are the issues.

“It’ll probably be early next year, January, before we’re going to be able to come back out because there’s just the sheer volume of it. It’s huge,” she said.

“We could be seeing around 20,000 submissions,” she added. “You may have 3,000 submissions but they could be only talking about one bus route . . . that we would have to make a revision or an amendment to.”

Ms Mackin said 32 information sessions have been held throughout the greater Dublin region informing the public of the proposals over the last number of weeks.

“The thing that people seem to have forgotten possibly is that this is a proposal we have put out for consultation,” she said.

“It wasn’t a de facto plan or finished network as in ‘here you go we want to implement it’, that wasn’t what it was about.”

Meanwhile, Minister for Transport Shane Ross has insisted he is fully committed to the BusConnects project despite having told a residents’ association meeting in his constituency he had nothing to do with it and had no responsibility for the National Transport Authority.

Responding to a report on the residents’ association meeting in The Irish Times on Friday, Mr Ross rejected allegations he had disavowed any knowledge of the BusConnects proposals.

“I wanted to make it clear that, yes, I make Government policy, but don’t ask me for details. I don’t micro- manage.

“If you have a problem in your particular area, it’s up to you to make a submission, but don’t come to me to change a route. That’s not my job, that map was not drawn up by me,” he told RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke show.

Mr Ross was speaking at the agm of the Nutgrove Loreto Community Association, in the Rathfarnham-Churchtown area of his constituency.

Mr Ross said the National Transport Authority (NTA) makes the decisions, not him. “I don’t make decisions, but I will be making a submission on behalf of the people in my constituency who are greatly inconvenienced. It’s a very good project, but there are problems that must be ironed out, that’s why there is a consultation process. I’ve no responsibility for the detail of BusConnects, that’s why we employ the NTA to be separate so there isn’t political interference. Of course I’m going to relay the worries of my constituents.”