December 16, 2020

BusConnects Corridors

Ciarán Cuffe, MEP for Dublin
Green Party Comhaontas Glas
The Tara Building
11-15 Tara Street, Dublin 2

Head of BusConnects Core Bus Corridors      

By email:

National Transport Authority

Dún Scéine, Harcourt Lane

Dublin 2, D02 WT20

Re. BusConnects Core Bus Corridors

Dear Madam/Sir,

I wish to support the BusConnects proposals and request that my concerns as outlined below are reflected in the final designs prior to submission to An Bord Pleanála

Greenhouse Gas emissions

Since the Bus Connects proposals were first outlined over three years ago much has changed. It is important that increased stronger climate ambition informs the final proposals. Catering for increasing amounts of private car traffic may be fundamentally at odds with climate ambition in the coming years, and current commitments under the Paris agreement. The Government has committed to a 7% reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions over the coming decade. The implication of this is that walking and cycling infrastructure must be improved beyond what it is contained within the current BusConnects Plans to achieve a more sustainable modal split.  It would be constructive to produce data for emissions from the full and partial implementation of the Bus Connects proposals with varying degrees of electrification of buses and other vehicles.

Long-term impacts of the Covid_19 pandemic

It is hoped that the roll-out of a vaccination to the general population will allow public transport occupancy levels to return to pre-pandemic levels. However, the impact on the workplace may be profound. There may be a long-term shift to remote working on one or several days a week for white-collar workers. There may also be increased demand for office hubs in commuter towns, and a move to more online retailing. It may also lead to a move away from offices to residential space provision in Dublin City’s central business district. This may impact significantly on travel patterns and perhaps reduce the demand for commuter travel. In tandem with tackling greenhouse gas emissions, it may lead to reduced need to cater for increases of car traffic on many routes. The latest information on these trends should inform the BusConnects Designs.

Changes in road and street alignments

I am concerned that in many instances it is still proposed to have multi-lane junctions with sweeping curve radii at corners.   An example of this is the R148/R111 junction in Kilmainham. I urge that the plans for junctions such as this are redesigned to improve pedestrian and cycling connectivity and safety. Flared entry points to a junction on the R147 (Navan Road) junction at the Halfway House suggest that lessons from the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets or other contemporary design guides are not being adequately considered in detailed local designs. In some instances, a ‘road diet’ to reduce car capacity or limit lane width may be advised. There are other instances where some protection has been provided for cyclists at crossroads, but the protection falls short of what has been provided in countries such as Denmark. Perhaps a detailed pattern book of key junction details should be produced for public debate and resolution.

Orbital Routes and Interchanges

While appreciating that the focus in this phase is on the core bus corridors, I hope that greater consideration can be given to orbital routes. I hope that attention can be given to interchanges that would make interchange easier between different routes and modes. This would include making adequate provision for pedestrian crossings and access, bike storage, taxi pick-ups, car transfers (kiss n ride’), and facilitating car-sharing clubs and electrification. Such interchanges could initially focus on bus to bus and bus to rail and Luas connections. A small building that might provide some basic retail facilities, toilets and protection from the elements could be provided at these locations. Recent developments in Hamburg, Germany illustrate what can be achieved with such interconnection hubs, and their experience could inform designs for Dublin

Walking and Cycling

In some instances,there have been substantial improvements for cycling and walking in the revised plans. It is good to see an increased focus on green infrastructure and place-making. However, in some instances the draft cycling proposals have disimproved, and cyclists are forced to yield to motorists. I do not believe that this is best practice and I urge that such proposals are reconsidered. I note the use of island bus stops and suggest that pedestrian priority should be given where pedestrians alight from buses and cross cycle paths. This may take the form of a crossing at a similar height to pedestrianised spaces.

Placemaking, Heritage and Tree protection

An increased focus on urban design and ‘place-making’ has been a welcome development in BusConnects but this needs to go much further to truly achieve improvements in the public realm that are not dominated by moving traffic, and that are safe and inviting to children and older people as well as those with disabilities. Wider footpaths are essential, but village centres and junctions require careful attention to detail.

It is heartening that more attention has been paid to safeguarding heritage in the current plans, but any proposal to modify, relocate or remove elements of Protected Structures needs to be very carefully considered. Elements such as gate posts and railings that date from Georgian and Victorian times are well worth retaining, particularly in situ if this can be achieved.

Regarding trees, it is hoped that tree removal will be kept to a minimum, particularly of trees that are twenty years old or more. New tree-planting would focus on native species of significant maturity. New tree planting should incorporate designed sized tree pits that allow for sustainable drainage ‘soakaways’ and the planting of flowers and other greenery in the vicinity of such trees.

Appoint of a Design Tsar

The Luas Cross-city projects showed how the design resolution of new infrastructure often avoids consideration of some elements such as above-ground junction boxes. Controversy around the ‘Luashenges’ at College Green and elsewhere underlines the need to have someone with whom the buck stops on good design. This covers everything from kerb stones to streetlights; from traffic signal and public lighting junction boxes to signage that is both beautiful and in keeping with Universal Design principles. It would also cover the provision and maintenance of elements such as green infrastructure. It is also essential that designs express the essence of Dublin, and perhaps designers, architects and landscapers should play a more central role in the overall design to compliment engineering capabilities.

I wish you well as these plans move to their final stage.


Ciarán Cuffe

MEP for Dublin

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