Wednesday 13 April 2011

Nowhere to park so Luas extension misses targets

A €300m Luas extension will fail to meet its passenger targets this year because it still has no park-and-ride facilities in place, six months after it opened.

And the Irish Independent has learned that it will be autumn at the earliest before any parking facilities come on stream for commuters on the Cherrywood extension to the Luas Green line in south Dublin.

Some 25,000 passenger journeys a week are being made on the 7km stretch of light rail from Sandyford to Cherrywood, according to new figures obtained from Luas operators the Rail Procurement Agency (RPA).

However, this is well short of the 40,000 journeys a week needed to reach the two million-passenger target set down for the first year of operation of the line which opened last October.

RPA spokesman Tom Manning said passenger uptake was being hampered by the lack of parking facilities, which were delayed by planning and contractual difficulties.

"It is absolutely a factor in limiting passenger numbers and we are very frustrated these park-and-ride facilities are not yet there, but we are doing our best to progress them," he said.


The RPA said the economic downturn had been a big factor in lower passenger use, and they were now aiming to have 1.8 million passenger journeys on the Luas extension in its first year, banking on a surge in passenger numbers in the summer.

And Mr Manning said the potential was seen in the 30pc increase in passenger numbers during the cold spell last December and January.

A 350-car facility at Carrickmines -- given the green light by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council -- has been delayed until a final agreement on the lease and contractual arrangements is reached with the private landowner, he said.

The council was also considering an application for a 200-place park-and-ride facility near the Cherrywood Terminus by developers Dunloe Ewart.

Another application from Park Developments for a 390-car facility on Ballyogan Road was also in the planning stages, and there was one further application for a 60-car park-and-ride facility close to that.

Mark Gleeson, of Rail Users Ireland, said it was disgraceful that major pieces of infrastructure were put in place without the facilities needed to use them to their full capacity.

"It's a disgrace that six months on there's still no park and rides, and these Luas carriage just empty out everywhere west of Leopardstown because there's nowhere for passengers to park," he said.

Mr Gleeson said the RPA should issue compulsory purchase orders on the land for park and rides and develop them themselves because, while working with private landowners might seem cheaper, facilities ended up getting bogged down in legal disputes.

He welcomed the fact that the council had cut planning levies on park-and-ride facilities to speed up their provision.

Aideen Sheehan
Irish Independent

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