By Aidan Coyle
The National Transport Authority’s (NTA) BusConnects proposal recently finished its latest round of public consultations. However, many people are still concerned about the impact it will have on local communities.
BusConnects is a plan to redesign bus routes, which was announced last year. Following a series of public consultations, the proposed bus network was redesigned. The NTA will now analyse the submissions made at the most recent set of consultations.
The current plan would see a series of new bus corridors throughout the city, many of which would be running through communities. It will require roads to be widened in order to facilitate extra bus and cycle lanes. Some residents and business owners have expressed concern that areas will be unable to cope with wider roads and increased traffic as a result of these corridors.
TheCity.ie spoke to NTA representative Con Kehely about the impact that BusConnects may have on local communities. He said: “As part of the design process for the schemes, a comprehensive environmental impact assessment report is currently being prepared outlining the baseline of current conditions on a diverse range of environmental factors along each route.
Areas which will be examined by the report will be issues of employment, human health, the environment, water and air quality and the impact on amenities, according to Kehely.
The plan aims to create eight major routes that lead into the city centre called spines, which will aim to increase the frequency of buses running. The NTA also hopes that bus journeys will be reduced significantly.
One of the spine routes proposed is Tallaght to Terenure. David Wynne, owner of The Dublin School of Music in Terenure, is worried about the impact it could have on the area. He said: “I think the way they’ve designed the plan makes no sense. To propose ‘super highways’ through villages and to basically try and artificially force cars off the road where the two can probably run in tandem even with a connected fare system.”
Residents and business owners in Rathgar, Terenure, Rathfarnham, Templeogue and Harold’s Cross launched the Community Not Corridor campaign earlier this year to highlight their concerns and oppose the plans.
“I think they’re ticking a box by having public consultations. I also believe there are very serious concerns for child safety as well as pedestrian safety”
Deirdre O’Connor is a co-owner of Dress Circle which has been in Terenure for over 40 years. She has expressed her worry about the potential impact of BusConnects: “It will be disastrous for the area. The impact will be very negative for businesses in Terenure Village because it will mean access in and out will just be non-existent.
“Apart from everything else, there is no room. Even if they take away half of the footpaths, there is still not room for what they intend.”
The NTA are yet to finalise their plans and will continue to release documents and engage with the public over the next few months. Mr Kehely said: “Prior to the publication of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report, it is intended to publish an Environmental Scoping Report in the coming months outlining how the NTA and their design team intend measuring the baseline for these environmental factors.
“It will outline how the impacts will be quantified in the final environmental impact assessment report. This Scoping Report will be published as part of the new public consultation scheduled in the coming months.”
David Wynne is worried that the NTA are not addressing the concerns made at consultations. He said: “I think they’re ticking a box by having public consultations. I also believe there are very serious concerns for child safety as well as pedestrian safety in the areas that they’re proposing highways.”
Rathgar is another area that will be heavily impacted by the current proposals. One possibility the NTA are exploring is to change Rathgar Road into a one-way system leading into town. Bernie Carolan from Thomas Collins Hair Studio on Rathgar Road is opposed to this idea and described how it might damage businesses.
She said: “If they go with the one-way system, then anybody that’s coming from the opposite direction is adding I don’t know how much time to their journey to come up through Ranelagh. You wouldn’t even bother coming up.
“People crossing, it’s already bad. It could take me 10 minutes to get out onto Rathgar Road. I don’t know how that’s going to fare if you’re coming across two bus lanes and two bicycle lanes.
“It’s going to be impossible to cross the road and impossible to even drive to get here. So unless people are walking and walking on the right side of the road for us it’s going to be long-term damage,” she added.