COUNCILLORS IN Dublin City have backed a motion to introduce a “bus gate” at College Green, establishing a public transport priority through the area from 7am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm on weekdays.
The motion to ban cars in the area during peak hours between Monday and Friday was backed by 15 votes to 12 at a meeting of the council last night.
The scheme will involve re-routing of commuter traffic and revised access to certain car parks.
New signs for car parks and alternative routes will be installed on the primary access routes within the city’s canal cordon.
Speaking at last night’s council meeting, Labour councillor Andrew Montague said “if we want to get more people into the city centre, the buses are the best way to do it”.
He added that a bus lane could bring 5,000 people into town per hour, compared to a car lane which could only bring 1,000.
However, Cllr Emer Costello (Labour) said she felt it would be very damaging to small businesses and jobs in the city centre.
Arguing against the proposal,Fine Gael’s Ruairí McGinley said buses were the single biggest contributor to pollution in the city centre, contributing 80 per cent of the pollution at College Green.
He added that disabled drivers had expressed concern about getting in and out of work in the city centre if cars are banned at peak times.
The introduction of a “bus gate” will lead to firm closures and job losses, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce said yesterday.
The chamber had asked city councillors to put the proposal on hold until several traffic mitigation measures are introduced along with improvements in public transport services. Such measures include the implementation of real-time traffic information and upgrading car park signs around the capital.
“It is about ensuring that shoppers and commuters have real alternatives to going through the College Green by car, before they close it for any period of time” said Gina Quin, Dublin Chamber chief executive.
The chamber also claims that the decision to implement the bus gate would be calamitous for local traders who are already struggling as fewer shoppers visit the city centre.
“Businesses are concerned that this will only discourage shoppers further from visiting the city centre,” said Ms Quin.