The Irish Times view on BusConnects: A necessary inconvenience
Dramatic improvement in Dublin's bus services is required if city is to remain accessible
‘The need for a greatly improved bus service in Dublin is beyond question.’ File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Public consultation and consensus building are vital elements in the timely delivery of any large infrastructure project. It is, therefore, appropriate that BusConnects and the National Transport Authority have sought to involve residents’ organisations, concerned individuals, community groups and elected representatives in teasing out problems in relation to the development of a ten-year, integrated bus programme for Dublin.
The programme, involving the creation of 16 designated bus corridors and cycle tracks in and out of the city centre, forms part of the National Development Plan. Some homeowners along these 230km-long routes may lose part of their front gardens and car parking spaces. Businesses may also be affected. Understandably, many are unhappy. But all will be financially compensated.
Dublin’s population is expected to grow by one-quarter by 2040
Disruption to customers using existing services and the difficulties elderly people may experience in accessing hospitals and public services present complex problems. Here, however, the National Transport Authority has indicated its willingness to consider providing a community transport service to supplement the BusConnects plan. A firm commitment to deliver on this would represent a considerable advance.
Phase one of the consultation process is scheduled to end next month, with phases two and three, dealing with the remaining 12 routes, to be completed by the end of April. The fact that 30,000 submissions were received last year in connection with the scheme indicates the level of public concern generated by the initial plan.
The need for a greatly improved bus service is beyond question. As things stand, buses cater for 22 per cent of public transport users. That figure has grown markedly in recent years as the economy recovered. But it is still half that experienced in some transport-efficient European cities. Dublin’s population is expected to grow by one-quarter by 2040. The DART and Luas systems have already reached capacity. If the city is to remain viable, accessible and citizen-friendly, a dramatic improvement in bus services will be required.