DUBLIN BUS has estimated that 85 per cent of its 117 million passenger journeys per year could be subject to delays of up to 10 minutes, particularly on cross-city routes, if the Luas city centre link goes ahead.
It would involve the permanent removal of key bus stops such as those outside Trinity College and along College Street, and could impose extra costs of €15 million per year to alleviate the impact and stem the loss of passengers.
An Bord Pleanála is due to issue a decision on whether to approve a railway order application for the proposed Luas line by the end of next month.
However, the knock-on effects of the BXD Luas line – which would run from St Stephen’s Green to O’Connell Street and on to Broombridge – were not spelled out at last May’s Bord Pleanála oral hearing by Dublin Bus representatives.
According to reliable sources, the State-owned company was told in advance by the Department of Transport it should not object to the Luas link because it is part of the Transport 21 investment programme, adopted in 2005.
Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Cllr Andrew Montague of the Labour Party, yesterday called on the Government to reconsider the proposed Luas link because of the “severe” impacts its construction and operation would have on bus services and on cyclists in the city.
“You have to ask is this the way to get value for money when we have a huge national debt and, as Ruairí Quinn says, Ireland is in receivership. But by not spending the money on Luas, we could reverse some of cuts in Dublin Bus services,” he said.
“The reason why it’s being advanced is not that it’s the best project, but the only affordable one. In isolation from Metro North and Dart Underground, I don’t believe it makes sense, and what I’m saying is let’s stop and think about this again.” Although he agreed that connecting the two existing Luas lines was important, he said “a lot of things need to be connected”.
He warned that northside suburbs not served by Luas or Dart would have their bus services “severely restricted” by Luas BXD.
Referring to estimates by the Railway Procurement Agency that the line would cater for an additional 7.5 million passenger journeys per year, Mr Montague said: “What hasn’t been quantified is how many bus passenger trips will be lost as a result.”
He warned that there could even be a “net loss of public transport passengers”, yet Luas BXD had “never been subjected to a cost-benefit analysis as a stand-alone project, taking into account the damage it could do to buses and cycling in Dublin.
“This project is going to cost €500 million, and the money would be better spent on bus parking and bus interchanges, tackling pinch points like the Cat and Cage [in Drumcondra] and expanding the Dublin bikes scheme tenfold to 5,000 bikes covering the whole city.”
Mr Montague expressed concern about the impact on the city centre of construction works scheduled to run for 3½ years, and about the long-term impact on cyclists having to share streets in the central area with tram tracks running parallel.
“Tram tracks are dangerous for cyclists. So, in addition to damaging bus services, Luas BXD is going to make cycling less attractive,” he said, adding that unless rubber strips were inserted alongside tracks to close gaps, it would “damage cycling in the city”.
The department did not respond to Irish Times queries.