Thursday, 23 April 2009

Traders could be 'crucified' if bus gate goes wrong

DUBLIN CITY centre could be “sterilised” and traders “crucified” if plans for a “bus gate” at College Green go wrong, the Oireachtas transport committee has heard.

Labour TD Tommy Broughan said he supported Dublin City Council’s plan to restrict non-public transport traffic in the area.

However, he said the project had to be managed carefully as Dublin city centre was competing for shoppers with suburban centres.

“Business could be crucified if this thing goes wrong and the city centre sterilised,” he said.

The council’s traffic department originally proposed a 24-hour public-transport-only route from Dame Street to Westmoreland Street. However, the council’s transport committee this week voted to make the area a car-free zone only at peak hours on week days, following lobbying from city business interests.

Green Party TD Ciarán Cuffe said he was disappointed that the only transport lobby in the committee room yesterday was the Automobile Association (AA). Groups representing cyclists and bus users should also have been invited, he said.

“There are drivers out there who would drive up to the second floor of Brown Thomas and park their cars in the menswear section,” he said. He later said: “I hope I got the right floor”. Brown Thomas’ menswear department is actually in the basement.

Mr Cuffe said the Green Party still supported a 24-hour public-transport-only route. “I think it should be 24 hours a day seven days a week.”

Fianna Fáil Deputy Michael Kennedy said he disagreed with Mr Cuffe.

Mr Kennedy said a “24/7” car ban would be “ridiculous in my personal opinion”.

He added that he believed it was unrealistic and unnecessary.

AA spokesman Conor Faughnan said he had no problem with the council’s plan, “ideologically or practically”.

However, he expressed concern that it could produce a “solid wall of buses”.

Mr Faughnan said the plan should not be presented as a “car ban”. “That message being sent out does no favours to city centre traders,” he said.

Dublin Chamber of Commerce’s chairman Peter Brennan said implementing the “bus gate” plan made no sense at this time as work on Metro North and other projects had yet to begin.

“We have to go through five years of construction pain before we get there,” he said.

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has said he wants the car-free zone in place by July.

Irish Times

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