To whom it may concern;
I write to offer my observations, express my concerns and put forward some suggestions with regards to the Emerging Preferred Route for Core Bus Corridor 5, linking Blanchardstown with the City Centre through Stoneybatter.
At the outset, let me state my support for the overall Bus Connects project involving improved bus networks across the city, especially relating to the new and improve routes on an east west basis. Furthermore, I acknowledge that the investment in cycling infrastructure through Bus Connects represents the single largest investment in cycling infrastructure in the history of the State.
I also wish acknowledge the commitment made to me by the National Transport Authority with regards the retention of the Stoneybatter green Civic Space at the junction of Manor Street, Prussia Street and Aughrim Street. This commitment is welcome but I would ask that the National Transport Authority provide detailed drawings at the earliest opportunity which shows how this civic space is to be retained as part of a revised Emerging Preferred Route for Core Bus Corridor 5.
While I welcome the decision of the National Transport Authority to extend the public consultation on this proposed Core Bus Corridor to March 29th so that residents and householders living along or in the vicinity of the route would have a clearer picture of what is being proposed for other Core Bus Corridor routes, particularly the two affecting Phibsborough. However, I strongly that it would have been a much better approach to have linked the public consultation on these routes so that the deadline for submissions would be at the same time. The impact or consequences of the proposals contained in the Emerging Preferred Route Public Consultation document for the proposed Blanchardstown Core Bus Corridor will have a significant effect on streets and therefore residents in the Phibsborough and Markets area and vice versa. Yet, residents and householders are being asked to submit their views on the Blanchardstown Emerging Preferred Route without yet fully appreciating or knowing the ins and outs of with regards the impact and consequences of the Ballymun to City Centre Core Bus Corridor through Phibsborough, Broadstone and down Church Street and onto the Quays. The disjointed nature of the public consultation process leaves in my view, an awful lot to be desired.
I remain unconvinced by the arguments presented in the Emerging Preferred Route Public Consultation document which state that journey times can be reduced by up to 30 minutes as a result of the measures proposed. As a frequent Dublin Bus user myself, I believe at least 25% of current journey times could be saved by the introduction of a one fare structure. Currently, passengers, from my experience pay their fare to the driver as there are repeated problems with the ticket reading machine on buses. They also are engaging with the driver with regards the correct cost of the fare, which stop they need to get off, etc. There is merit in my view, of introducing the streamlined fare structure without delay and in advance of the proposed Core Bus Corridors as outlined in the Emerging Preferred Route Public Consultation document.
The changes outlined in the Emerging Preferred Route for Core Bus Corridor 5 Public Consultation document with regards the Stoneybatter are vast. Road realignments, road closures, no left-turns, no right-turns, reduction in footpath sizes, and removal of trees will all contribute significantly to a potentially much reduced quality of life for those living in and around the Stoneybatter area. Roads that are quiet residential streets will once again become heavily trafficked rat-runs, accessibility to local stores and much needed services will be greatly impacted and the potential that has grown in Stoneybatter over the last decade, in terms of Community Festivals, popular cafes and bars and other tourist attractions will effected in a way that we as a community cannot yet quantify.
That is why, I urge the National Transport Authority, upon the end of this round of public consultation to revisit and review all aspects of the proposed Emerging Preferred Route for Core Bus Corridor 5 between Cabra Cross and North King Street.
There are two major reasons for my requesting the National Transport Authority to, effectively start again on this particular stretch of the Blanchardstown Core Bus Corridor.
Firstly, to implement what is envisaged in the Emerging Preferred Route Public Consultation document would, I believe, caused unquantifiable traffic chaos across Dublin 7 and the north-western part of the City Centre. The result of what is being proposed will lead to what are currently quiet residential avenues and terraces being turned into heavily trafficked streets. To quote another submission, the cure is worse than the disease and therefore, it is essential that the National Transport Authority does not permit the following to occur:
- That Aughrim Street, St. Joseph’s Road and Blackhorse Avenue becoming the main default thoroughfare for private vehicles.
- That traffic will be diverted down Charleville Road, across Annamoe, Orchard Terrace, Rathdown Road, Kirwan Street, Oxmantown Road, Montpelier Hill and Arbour Hill.
Any revised Emerging Preferred Route for Core Bus Corridor 5 must not result in the above occurring, intentionally or unintentionally. During the Community Forum meeting facilitated by the National Transport Authority in the Ashling Hotel at the beginning of February, I reiterated the point that the NTA must be cognisant of the law of unintended consequences and must therefore; ensure that its proposals do not transform urban Mondello Parks!!
Secondly, the proposals contained in the Emerging Preferred Route Public Consultation document for Core Bus Corridor 5 disregard at best or completely ignore, at worst, the vibrancy of the community that is Stoneybatter and the developments that have been taking place in the area over the past decade as well as though being planned or being constructed at present.
As has been discussed elsewhere in various submissions and petitions signed by Stoneybatter residents, our community is located in the heart of a historic urban village. The past decade has seen significant rejuvenation of the area, including development of the Grangegorman campus, construction of the O’Devaney Gardens regeneration project, the opening of a new LIDL superstore on the Old Cabra Road (which will be incredibly difficult to access under these proposals!) as well as the opening of new cafes and bars and other niche market independent businesses. In other words, Stoneybatter is thriving, both as a community and from a business and retail perspective.
The age profile of Stoneybatter in the past decade has got younger and younger. The school going population is ever growing with local schools either expanding or larger new schools being built. That age profile will only get younger as further development takes place in the coming years, as highlighted previously, for example, with O’Devaney Gardens regeneration. All this means that we as residents in Stoneybatter want to ensure that our community, our neighbourhood remains safe, secure and accessible just as it is presently. The proposals contained in the Emerging Preferred Route Public Consultation document will, undoubtedly undo all of this good work and potential.
Therefore, in making a submission on the Emerging Preferred Route for Core Bus Corridor 5, I believe there is an onus on me, as local resident of but as the elected representative for Stoneybatter to put forward suggestions that the National Transport Authority would examine and consider as part of bringing forward a revised Emerging Preferred Route.
Firstly, there is significant traffic volumes that currently uses the Navan Road, Old Cabra Road and through Stoneybatter that would otherwise use the M50 were there to be no toll on that motorway. It is my strong recommendation that the National Transport Authority work to remove that toll and to include its removal as part of any revised Emerging Preferred Route that may be brought forward later this year or in early 2020.
Secondly, I strongly recommend that the proposed two-way traffic management system on George’s Lane be removed from a revised Emerging Preferred Route. Its retention will only see further traffic volumes being added to what will then be over-utilised Lower Grangegorman, Rathdown Road, Grangegorman Villas and Orchard Terrace. Furthermore, its retention will then see greater traffic volumes on Kirwan Street which is already busy and even more so during school drop-off and pick-up time. Its retention will also have a negative effect on the provision of the Dublin Bikes station which is currently located there, that was long sought and long worked on by myself and Minister Paschal Donohoe in conjunction with the National Transport Authority and Dublin City Council.
Thirdly, I strongly recommend that efforts be made to provide Park & Ride facilities along this Core Bus Corridor. While I appreciate the response to issues surrounding this point at the Community Forum meeting in the Ashling Hotel in early February, I remain unconvinced by their omission for this Core Bus Corridor. Therefore, any revised Emerging Preferred Route for Core Bus Corridor 5 must contain proposals for Park & Ride.
Fourth, I believe that any documentation accompanying a revised Emerging Preferred Route for Bus Corridor 5 should incorporate indicative details for a Public Realm and Greening Strategy for the Stoneybatter area, which can be agreed upon with Dublin City Council and the local community through a public consultation facilitated by the Central Area Committee of the City Council. The existing Dublin City Development Plan 2016 – 2022 makes provision for the creation of an Environmental Improvement Plan in particular districts. I believe that the advancement of Bus Connects provides the opportunity and importantly the possible funding mechanism to deliver a comprehensive Public Realm and Greening Strategy for Stoneybatter. Bus Connects, in addition being the single largest ever investment in cycling infrastructure will include funding provision for large scale public realm improvements. It is important that the National Transport Authority reiterates this point and the opportunity to enhance the public realm and key urban centres such as Stoneybatter.
Fifth, as part of the review of this consultation process and in advance of publishing a revised Emerging Preferred Route for Core Bus Corridor 5, the National Transport Authority should liaise with Dublin City Council to examine and prepare what further traffic improvement schemes to reduce vehicular speeds on local roads in Stoneybatter can be implemented. Works are set to begin on the Arbour Hill Scheme and an initial consultation has been undertaken along Oxmantown Road. Local householders and residents need to see action to counteract any increase in traffic volumes on other streets prior to any implementation of Bus Connects should planning permission ever be granted by An Bord Pleanala. This work should be advanced by the next round of public consultation.
Therefore, to recap, I request the National Transport Authority to:
- Revisit and reimagine the stretch of the proposed Core Bus Corridor 5 affecting Old Cabra Road, Prussia Street, Manor Street, Aughrim Street and the North Circular Road.
- Specify and provide visual documentation of how exactly the National Transport Authority plans to honour its commitment to me with regards the retention of Stoneybatter’s Civic Space.
- Begin the process of removing the M50 toll in order to lessen the volume of traffic that currently use the Navan Road, Old Cabra Road, Prussia Street, Manor Street route.
- Prepare specific proposals with regards Park & Ride facilities for Core Bus Corridor 5.
- Commit publicly, as soon as possible, to support a Public Realm and Greening Strategy for Stoneybatter as part of the Bus Connects project and for it to be implemented by Dublin City Council.
- Advance works on the preparation of traffic speed reduction plans for Stoneybatter roads which should be implemented in advance of any works beginning associated with Bus Connects.
In conclusion, I believe there are merits in what the National Transport Authority is seeking to advance with the overall Bus Connects project. However, some of the specific proposals, especially relating to the Stoneybatter area do more to undermine the objectives of Bus Connects. Delivering improved and enhanced public transport is something everyone can support but those improvements cannot come at the expense of a reduced or negatively impacted quality of life for those who live in or who have chosen to make their home in the Stoneybatter area. We cannot be expected, nor will we, allow the communities that make up our neighbourhood to be up-ended for the benefit of others. There must be and has to be another way of delivering the commendable objectives at the heart of Bus Connects.
I look forward to working with the Bus Connects team and officials in the National Transport Authority in a constructive manner to improve our public transport system and to ensure when that happens, Stoneybatter and the wider Dublin 7 area remain and continue to thrive as living and breathing vibrant communities in the heart of Dublin City.
City Councillor – North Inner City
Fine Gael Leader, Dublin City Council