NTA says improved bus routes may cost car drivers

Authority says 1,500 property owners could lose lands to accommodate bus corridors

 The National Transport Authority’s chief executive Anne Graham. File Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

The National Transport Authority’s chief executive Anne Graham. File Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Plans to overhaul the bus network in Dublin could increase journey times for private car commuters, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has said.

Separately, the NTA has said up to 1,500 property owners could lose part of their front gardens to accommodate bus corridors under the plans, though they previously indicated it would be roughly 1,300.

NTA chief executive Anne Graham and her deput Hugh Creegan were addressing the Oireachtas transport committee on Wednesday.

Ms Graham told the committee BusConnects is aimed at addressing the “growing congestion” in the capital and encouraging more people to use public transport.

“That’s about giving priority to public transport and sustainable transport and it means then that the space isn’t available for car users.

“That does and possibly increases journey times for those that use their car but we have to start giving priority to the bus where we possibly can,” she said.

BusConnects involves redesigning the current bus network in the Dublin region and creating 16 core bus corridors and segregated lanes into the city.

Ms Graham said up to 1,500 property owners could be impacted in order to facilitate the 16 corridors. Some 345 owners have already been informed they are set to lose part of their front gardens under the project along four of the corridors; Clongriffin (120 properties), Swords (110), Blanchardstown (100) and Lucan (15) to the city centre.

‘Fairly and properly’

Mr Creegan said those affected will be dealt with “fairly and properly” and that environmental impact assessment reports will be carried out on properties. He said the NTA has had one-to-one meetings with 40 property owners and are “waiting for the remainder to contact us”.

Mr Creegan also said it is taking “a long time” to get through 30,000 submissions made to the NTA in relation to the redesign of the bus network.

“We will be redesigning the network to try and address most of the issues, we won’t be able to address them all,” he said.

Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall called on the NTA to meet with the Dublin Cycling Campaign, which has raised concerns with the proposals.

“Those people who are the regular cyclists who are involved in the campaign are saying that the standards you’re using are just not acceptable and they’re looking to meet with you separately,” she said.

Labour Senator Kevin Humpheys said residents in areas such as Terenure and Kimmage have “lost confidence in the process” because of a “lack of information” in the early stages. “There’s a need to move on to much more detailed engagement,” he said.

Mr Creegan said information provided by the NTA at this stage is “concept designs”.

Meanwhile, the NTA said there has been “a few teething issues” and some complaints regarding bus routes that have switched to private operator Go-Ahead in recent weeks.

Ms Graham acknowledged there have been issues with timetables and running times but that it would be “at least a number of weeks and months operation before you can make judgement on those services”.

She also said the NTA has requested 26 additional staff for 2019 and “a similar number” for 2020 to ensure the body has adequate resources to work on BusConnects and Metro North.