Thursday, 28 June 2007
Light Rail Project.
Question 7: To ask the Minister for Transport and the Marine when work will begin on extending a Luas service to Liffey Junction; when this project will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18113/07]
Question 18: To ask the Minister for Transport and the Marine if a route has been selected for joining up the existing two Luas lines in Dublin city centre; when this project will proceed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18042/07]
Question 65: To ask the Minister for Transport and the Marine the projected impact on travelling times to cross city bus services in Dublin if the Luas BX line is completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17903/07]
We have already had the discussion to a certain extent during Priority Questions in respect to the first two questions. Dublin Bus is concerned about the impact of the proposed Luas project on its services. The RPA believes that its preferred route option, option F, which incorporates a single loop track between Trinity College and the top of O'Connell Street and a new bus-only bridge across the Liffey, will serve to minimise the impact of the line on bus services, both during construction and subsequent operation.
However, the modelling work currently being undertaken by Dublin City Council for a traffic management plan for the city centre is of critical importance, not only to the successful implementation of this Luas project but also to the provision of much-needed, improved bus priority in the central area. I look forward to the earliest possible completion of that work.
My main concern and the reason I raised this issue is because of the arguments between the RPA and CIE about the use of Broadstone, which the Minister may have seen and which I am sure he has heard about. Again, it highlights the need for a Dublin transportation authority to knock their heads together.
It is outrageous that providers of services that are meant to integrate at Broadstone should be publicly rowing. Again, this will hold up the decision and the provision of the service to everybody. Does the Minister agree that it is ludicrous that the Dublin transportation authority is not in place and making these decisions when, again and again, we are given examples of how urgently it is required?
The question of the impact on bus services is again the cause of rows between Dublin Bus and the RPA and highlights the need for the Dublin transportation authority. I beg the Minister to encourage the construction of more bridges across the Liffey. This is essential if we are to provide transport services. I believe the construction of Macken Street bridge finally started in the last few weeks. They have been talking about starting construction for ten years. It was ready to go ahead ten years ago and has only started in the past few weeks.
There is a great need to provide bus services across the Liffey when the metro is being built, never mind the BX line. There will be chaos unless we have alternatives available by then.
I agree with most of the Deputy's comments in respect of a number of those issues. She is correct on the issue of Macken Street bridge, although it might be about nine rather than ten years, because it was talked about when I was in the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government even before some of the bridges that now span the Liffey were built.
We have discussed the other issue raised by the Deputy, namely, the Dublin transportation authority, and I do not disagree with her. There is a need for heads to be banged together and less rivalry on this issue. People in the various sectors must get it into their heads that Dublin and its population are expanding and that there is now a desire, which perhaps was never there previously, for people to use public transport if we have a proper system. Nobody is going to lose out or lose their jobs. If we put the entire system in place, we will have a very integrated transport system for the city that will be of benefit to the public.
My focus in this particular period of office will to be provide the best possible service for the customer. In most cases, that will be through public transport. I was not long in the brief, maybe a few days, when the issue of Broadstone appeared in one of the Sunday newspapers. It took me by surprise but I had not read into the brief fully.
Given the general knowledge I had about Transport 21 and everything else, this issue seemed to come out of the blue for everybody. I am not sure whether I would classify it as a row between the RPA and CIE because some people in CIE are a bit surprised by it as well. It has certainly taken most people by surprise. Based on my knowledge going back to my time at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Dublin Transportation Office and A Platform for Change, everybody knows that Broadstone was a central part of our plans. Given the existence of A Platform for Change, Transport 21 and the national development plan, for people to suddenly discover they will not be able to facilitate the Luas because they need certain things does not make sense. I will be seeking clarification on that issue over the coming weeks.
My understanding is that progress is being made on the review and I expect to receive the report in the autumn. I cannot give a timescale on the joining up of the two lines. The "F" option — the full completion — would be done by 2012.