Senior Ministers raised constituents’ concerns over BusConnects plan

Varadkar made representations for constituents over bus network changes

Richard Bruton: he petitioned the NTA  on seven occasions over concerns and objections constituents in his Dublin Bay North constituency had raised. Photograph: Getty Images

Richard Bruton: he petitioned the NTA on seven occasions over concerns and objections constituents in his Dublin Bay North constituency had raised. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and several senior Ministers made representations to the National Transport Authority (NTA) over constituents’ concerns with the new BusConnects plan.

In June, the authority announced plans for a major redesign of the capital’s bus network which would see routes altered and renamed.

In July, Minister for Transport Shane Ross’s constituency office wrote to the authority to raise concerns from residents in Stepaside, Belarmine and Kilgobbin over potential changes to the 44 and 47 routes. “In particular, residents are concerned about their continued access to St Vincent’s Hospital, UCD and Dublin city centre,” the representation from Mr Ross’s office said.

Correspondence between Oireachtas members and the NTA on the overhaul of the bus network were released following Freedom of Information requests.

Officials from Mr Varadkar’s office made representations on behalf of two constituents in July over concerns the proposed changes would not improve transport links to the city centre from west Dublin.

Minister for Communications Richard Bruton petitioned the authority on seven occasions over concerns and objections constituents in his Dublin Bay North constituency had raised.

‘Considerable concern’

In September, Mr Bruton emailed the authority stating there was “considerable concern” in Riverside Grove about the impact of changes to the 27 bus route.

Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy and Minister for Children Katherine Zappone also made representations for constituents on the bus plan.

The Bus Connects network was designed by US-based consultant Jarrett Walker. A public consultation on the plans received about 20,000 submissions. The NTA will incorporate submissions into the final design of the network, which is expected to be published in the first quarter of next year.

Mr Ross made a submission to the plan in which he warned that the initial changes to the bus network risked cutting off his constituents in Dublin Rathdown from transport links to schools, a hospital and the city centre.

Mr Ross has met the NTA chief executive Anne Graham twice in recent months, once in Leinster House, where she briefed the Minister on the plans ahead of the launch, and again last month in department offices. On both occasions “constituency matters were not raised”, according to an NTA spokesman.

Existing stops

Opposition TDs also petitioned the NTA over the outlined changes to the Dublin Bus network. Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan TD wrote on several occasions to express concern with changes to bus routes and the loss of certain existing stops in Terenure in his Dublin Bay South constituency.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD wrote to the authority over proposals to potentially compulsory purchase order (CPO) parts of residents’ front gardens in Glasnevin and Mobhi Road to widen roads for expanded bus corridors.

“There is already great anxiety in the community regarding the MetroLink… I’d ask that you deal sensitively with this matter, and that you explore all alternative options.”