PLANS TO ban private cars from parts of Dublin City centre, including O'Connell Street, Westmoreland Street and College Green, should go ahead by next April, a key Oireachtas Transport Committee report will recommend today.
The proposals to allow only public transport into the central area by next year, as outlined by Transport Committee chairman Frank Fahey last May, had been expected to be postponed after strong opposition from city traders and members of Mr Fahey's own Oireachtas Committee.
Objections centred on claims that there are insufficient buses or other public transport in the area to support the ban. Objections also cited insufficient time to steer a proposed new bridge across the Liffey through the planning process, and that the proposed Samuel Beckett bridge at Macken Street will not be open before 2010.
The car ban was planned by the Dublin Transportation Office to coincide with the start of work on Metro North and the building of the city centre Luas link. While Metro North is not now expected to start until 2011, and the Luas works will not happen before that, it has been decided to recommend early 2009 as the start of the car ban.
The Irish Times understands the report will recommend a "bus gate" be established at College Green by next April, and that only buses, bicycles, taxis and other public service vehicles be allowed to access the central core area.
Efforts to contact Mr Fahey yesterday were unsuccessful, but he has previously insisted: "We are quite satisfied that the proposals within this report are possible and can be implemented."
The report recommends the acquisition by Dublin Bus of 350 new buses - to be leased from the private sector if not immediately available to buy.
The proposed Bailey bridge between Marlborough Street and Hawkins Street is to be reserved for public transport and will be replaced by a Luas bridge.
The Irish Times