The snarl-up which caused traffic gridlock in Dublin city centre on Monday morning does not appear to have been repeated at the height of the evening rush hour. While traffic was heavy it was moving.
It was an entirely different story at the start of the day when a “perfect storm” caused by failing traffic lights at a key junction, freezing weather, rush hour traffic and a brand new tram system navigating its way through the city’s commuter traffic for the first time led to long tailbacks.
Two sets of traffic lights on College Green started to malfunction at 8.47am which led to trams and buses backing up as they approached what has long been recognised as one of the worst pinch points on the new tramline due to the narrowness of the stretch.
Buses travelling from Pearse Street towards St Stephen's Green took 22 minutes to cover the 200 metres from the Garda station to the gates of Trinity College while the journey time from the former Central Bank on Dame Street to the Westin Hotel was similar.
Passengers on some trams said it took more than eight minutes to travel from the Luas stop on Dawson Street to the stop at Westmoreland St, a distance which could be covered considerably faster on foot.
As many as six trams were lined up from O’Connell St to College Green and all of them were barely able to move for a period of almost 45 minutes.
Dublin City Council workers, staff from Transdev, the company which operates the Luas, and the Garda traffic division all worked to deal with the signalling failure and by 9.30am traffic started moving again although it took several hours before the knock-on impact was lessened.
“If you are going to have a signalling problem then that is possibly the worst place to have it,” said Transport Infrastructure Ireland spokesman Sean O’Neill.
“As soon as the lights stopped working as they were supposed to traffic started to back up and it was a perfect example of how important effective signalling is as the problem spread rapidly throughout the city.”
Ahead of Monday evening’s rush hour engineers were on College Green ready to manually intervene and address any further problems although the evening rush hour appeared to be passing off without any significant delays.
A spokeswoman for Transdev acknowledged that the Luas Cross City route had got off to a rocky start but said it was working with Dublin City Council, Dublin Bus and other parties “to ensure this signalling issue is fully resolved”.