‘Substantial change’ needed to Dublin transport plan, commuters to tell politicians

Concern at ‘slow and vague timelines’ and absence of Dart Underground and southside metro

“Substantial changes” are needed to the draft strategy for transport in Dublin and surrounding counties, politicians will be told on Wednesday.

Voluntary organisation, Dublin Commuter Coalition, will raise concern at "slow and vague timelines" and the absence of firm plans for Dart Underground and conversion of the Luas Green Line to a high capacity metro during an appearance at the Oireachtas Transport Committee.

Coalition chairman Feljin Jose will tell TDs and Senators that the draft plan for transport in Greater Dublin “falls well short” of what is needed for a radical shift from cars to the kinds of sustainable transport needed to meet Ireland’s climate action commitments.

He will say: “We are seeking substantial changes to the plan before it is finalised and approved by the Minister.”

The Draft Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2022-2042 was published by the National Transport Authority (NTA) last November.

The Transport Committee will discuss the plan with the NTA, Dublin Bus and the Dublin Commuter Coalition on Wednesday.

Mr Jose will outline how his group seeks to represent all transport users in the capital including those using public transport and people who walk and cycle.

His opening statement says the Coalition is pleased at the roll-out of the new Bus Connects network but on the draft strategy Mr Jose says: “Our biggest concerns are the slow and vague timelines provided and the removal of two vital projects.”

He says: “People in Dublin are increasingly frustrated with how long it takes to design, plan and build transport projects” and adds: “We believe that the timelines for delivery of projects in the Draft Transport Strategy are far too slow.”

Mr Jose offers plans for Luas as an example of this saying: "the sum of the Luas lines proposed to be built by 2042 in the Draft Transport Strategy is the same as what was proposed to be built by 2035 in the previous Transport Strategy — a new line to Lucan and small extensions to Finglas, Poolbeg and Bray."

He says the Coalition welcome the inclusion of a rail link to Navan but that under the plan people in the town “don’t know if it will be built ten years from now or twenty years from now.”

He says the Dart+ Tunnel - previously known as Dart Underground are a “notable omission” and a mooted upgrade of the Luas Green line on the southside to a high capacity metro is “absent” from the draft strategy.

NTA chief executive Anne Graham will tell the committee that her agency has been assessing 1,020 submissions on the strategy and it is finalising a revised draft to submit for approval to Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.

She will say that major projects provided for in the draft strategy which are at different stages in delivery include Luas Cross City; the reopening of the Phoenix Park Tunnel Rail Line; cycle tracks and greenways; Metrolink; extensions of Dart services and BusConnects.

She will also refer to Ireland’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions by 51 per cent by 2030 and outline measures transport operators are taking to contribute to this such as switching to zero emission vehicles.

Ms Graham will say: “While the provision of new and additional transport infrastructure and transport services will encourage and deliver increased movement by sustainable modes, such provision will be insufficient on its own to achieve the level of emissions reduction required by 2030.

“Accordingly, additional demand management measures will need to be put in place to complement the additional transport provision which is likely to include parking restraint, zonal charging, additional tolling/road pricing and/or further vehicle electrification.”

Dublin Bus chief executive Ray Coyne will outline how the company hopes to increase passenger numbers to more than 150 million customers as Ireland recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

He will say: “With the introduction of five new 24/7 Routes alongside our Nitelink services, we have begun the process of introducing all day and all-night services across the capital.”

Mr Coyne will express an ambition to accelerate the roll-out of such services to include the 46A from the Phoenix Park to Dun Laoghaire and 155 cross-city route between Ballymun and Bray.