Bus journey times double in Dublin congestion
Transport chiefs warn there are limited options to solve the gridlock of cars, buses, taxis and trams.
Bus journey times through parts of Dublin city centre have more than doubled since new Luas lines opened.
Council chiefs said that at the busiest part of the day, between 9am and 10am, it takes on average 23 minutes for a bus going north to south to navigate College Green.
Before the Luas Cross City lines came into operation it took about 10 minutes.
Changes to pedestrian crossings have also led to waiting times at lights more than doubling for people crossing by foot, Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan said.
Whatever we put in place for Luas it seems that will not meet demand Peter Lunden-Welden
He warned that the issue of gridlock had been well flagged before the new Luas lines opened.
“It was always recognised by the city council that College Green, which has only one lane in each direction, would not be able to accommodate the same number of buses and taxis following the introduction of Luas Cross City,” Mr Keegan said.
The Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport was told by Dublin Bus that 17 of its routes have been realigned to ease congestion in the College Green area and another 10 will be moved out of the area on March 5.
Longer 55-metre Luas trams operating more frequently will be travelling through College Green by the end of March.
They will be given priority at lights to avoid blocking traffic on the quays while crossing O’Connell Bridge and the Rosie Hackett Bridge.
Peter Lunden-Welden, chief executive of Luas operator Transdev, told the committee that seven new long trams will be on track in the first week of May.
Transdev will also be seeking 26 trams to be extended and wants to buy another eight trams.
Mr Lunden-Welden said: “Whatever we put in place for Luas it seems that will not meet demand.
“My prediction is that will not solve the congestion. There will be higher demand.”
The Luas boss told the committee that since the Cross City line opened journey times on a tram through College Green have improved by three to four minutes.
Dublin Bus chief executive Ray Coyne said the average bus speed in the city at peak times is 14kph and the aim is to increase it to 18kph.
But he warned there are few viable options for taking buses out of College Green. Only Parliament Street and Westland Row offer nearby routes to traverse the city centre.
“At this point in time there’s not that many alternatives,” Mr Coyne said.
I'm terrrified coming round. It’s incredible that anyone designed that facility with cyclists in mind Eamon Ryan
The committee heard that 1,200 cyclists are going through College Green during peak hour. The number of people on bikes has tripled in the years since Luas Cross City plans were unveiled.
A two-way cycle path has opened but cycling campaigners have raised safety concerns about the route.
Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader and cyclist, raised the number of cyclists being injured trying to navigate the Luas lines and busy bus routes around Trinity College.
“I’m terrrified coming round,” he told the committee.
“It’s incredible that anyone designed that facility with cyclists in mind.”
Conor Faughnan, AA consumer affairs director, said the fallout is still being felt from a decision in 2009 to ban cars, except taxis, from College Green.
But he said the only solution to the congestion is to move buses.
“Put simply, there’s no room for both buses and trams. The trams can’t move so the buses will have to,” he said.