Dublin Council wants to ban cars from city centre
Dublin City Council wants to ban cars from the heart of Dublin city centre.
In the new proposals, motorists and taxi drivers will be banished from Westmorland Street, D’Olier Street and College Green.
All private traffic will also be banned from Bachelors Walk and Georges Quay.
The Council is proposing that a large car park be built at Heuston Station where commuters arriving from west of the city can park and ride the Luas to work.
Conor Faughnan, the director of Consumer Affairs with The AA, said the existing public transport system was not capable of providing additional capacity, and that it could not be considered a "victory" to drive cars out of the city.
"Some of the measures appear to be gratuitous and you wonder what purpose they are serving," he added.
He told The Last Word with Matt Cooper that “a third of commuters come in by private car” because the city is only “physically capable of carrying 48 per cent of commuters on public transport”
“Dublin is only physically capable of taking less than half if it’s daily commuters by public transport.
“That’s what sets us apart from other cities, it’s not selfish car drivers.
“It’s not like we have lazy motorists driving alongside empty Luas trams in the morning.
“Every public transport asset we have is stuffed to capacity.
“In London, before the congestion charge was introduced they had almost 90 per cent of commuters using public transport.
“In Dublin we have an army of people who have no other choice, if they can't use a car to access Dublin city centre the public transport alternative is not there."
The Dublin City Centre Transport Plan from the council and the National Transport Authority (NTA), says the number of trips being made into the city is forecast to increase by 20pc by 2023, and that the road network simply cannot cope.
Unless road space is reallocated in favour of public transport, it will result in widespread congestion.
"Taxi drivers are being pushed into cubby holes, dead ends and off the main thoroughfare which is going to affect our business," said Tony Rowe from the National Transport Assembly of Ireland, which also represents taxi drivers.
Car park owners also raised concerns, with the Irish Parking Association saying reducing access for motorists would not only have a "detrimental effect" on car parks, but also impact on business.
"A lot of the measures, going along the headline items like the 24-hour bus gates and things like that, we wouldn't be in favour of. We don't think they are necessary," he said.
But the city council insisted that its plan, which runs until 2023, is needed to avoid the "severe pressure" on the city experienced during the boom years.
It expects some €150m to be spent on a range of sustainable transport projects including bus infrastructure, cycling and walking schemes and continued roll-out of Real Time Passenger Information systems.
Some works, such as the upgrade of College Green, are already largely funded under the Luas Cross-City scheme, due for completion in 2017.
The council said that "no specific" car parks had been identified for use as taxi ranks, and that changes would only be on an "agreed basis" with owners.
The study is also proposing construction of a car parking facility close to Heuston Station, where motorists can switch to public transport.
Business group DublinTown, which represents more than 2,500 businesses in the city, gave the plan cautious welcome, with chief executive Richard Guiney saying in terms of making the city a more attractive location, it was "very welcome".
"I think we are in for some very exciting times. How people are accessing the city is changing," he added.
Public consultation will begin on the pans today and peopel can view the proposals on http://www.dublincity.ie/