Wednesday, 11 November 2015
Public Transport Initiatives
I want to ask the Minister about his plans for the bus rapid transport system that has been proposed for Dublin. It went off the radar to an extent when the capital plan was announced. Can the Minister give us an update on it?
As the Deputy will be aware, proposals in relation to three bus rapid transport, BRT, routes were included in the National Transport Authority's integrated implementation plan, which runs from 2013 to 2018. The Government has decided to proceed with the new metro north project, which we debated earlier. Funding will be available for that. In light of the Government's decision, I have asked the National Transport Authority to keep the capacity issues on the corridor under review. The authority continues to indicate to me that bus-based measures will be needed to provide increased capacity and to meet the level of demand in our part of the city. Such measures could take the form of a BRT, a BRT-type service or a conventional quality bus corridor project and upgrade. This is a matter that we will keep under review. Any final decision we make will take account of the status of the metro project.
There was a great deal of consultation on the three preferred BRT routes. Measures were to be put in place. The Minister is saying that while the metro is the main focus of attention, there may be interim projects that involve the use of BRT or some watered-down version of it. It is not clear whether the Minister is intending to push ahead with this in some capacity. He is saying that if transport problems develop to the extent that more accessibility, more bus services and more passenger services are needed, he will re-examine the BRT option. It is obvious that it could be a good interim choice to deal with the problems that exist in this city. Transport to the airport, for instance, is very important. The number of people using the Swords route, about which we have been talking for a long time, has increased dramatically. I think we should continue to look at BRT to see whether it can be utilised, especially in light of the money that has already been spent on consultation in this area.
Funding is included to proceed with those projects. As they are massive projects in their own right, they will take time to deliver. Regarding the Swords to Dublin BRT project, now that I have made a decision to proceed with the metro transport choice, I need to work back from that to determine the right form of bus transit to meet the needs that will exist before the metro opens in 2026 or 2027 and to accompany the metro when it is operational. The National Transport Authority is looking at that matter at the moment. It will make proposals in this regard. I would say that some of the projects we have done were worth going ahead with in their own right. I refer, for example, to the change that was made to remove a pinch point at the Cat & Cage on the Drumcondra Road. Regardless of the development of BRT, the removal of that pinch point was the right choice to make. It was the right project. Similar projects will be going ahead.
I agree with the Minister that there has been a massive improvement at the Cat & Cage in Drumcondra, which had been a bottleneck for many years. If we were to proceed with some form of BRT, it would facilitate such projects. We will probably need some supplementary measures while we are waiting for the metro line to the airport to kick off. I acknowledge that there have been some big improvements.