Congestion charges for cars entering Dublin city centre are to be considered to coincide with major transport projects due to get under way next year.
The charges will be discussed once work begins on Transport 21 projects such as the Metro and the Luas connector line, Dublin city manager John Tierney told an Oireachtas committee yesterday.
Construction of both the Metro North and Luas BX city centre connector lines is due to begin in 2009.
Mr Tierney appeared before the Oireachtas transport committee along with the managers of the three other Dublin local authorities.
Dublin City Council was devising a contingency plan to ensure the city did not come to a standstill during the construction phase of the city centre element of Transport 21, and once this infrastructure was in place, Mr Tierney said, the plan was due to be finalised by the end of this year.
The entry of cars into the city was going to have to be "very restricted" and in some areas such as College Green, where the Luas BX line to connect the two original Luas lines will run in front of Trinity College, cars would be banned, he said.
Traffic flows would have to be reconfigured throughout the city centre to allow for construction and the new layout of lines and stations, which would include changes in the direction of traffic and junctions.
"Some of the changes that are going to occur with Luas BX and metro are going to make it more and more difficult for cars to enter the city. A lot of access to the city centre is going to have to be for businesses only." Mr Tierney said.
The cost of car parking would deter people from driving into the city, but he said "a congestion charge will have to be considered".
It would not be possible to ban cars from the city centre completely Mr Tierney said, because of the detrimental effects this would have on city centre businesses, but there would be more restrictions placed on cars.
Dublin Bus would have to reconfigure many of its routes to allow for the rail construction and to allow for the movements of trams, but buses would also benefit from the reduction in cars in the city, he said.
"We are not a public transport provider but we do everything in our power to try to facilitate public transport," he said.
However, Mr Tierney told the committee it was very frustrating when a local authority established a quality bus corridor which was not fully exploited by the bus company.
"There is nothing more frustrating for a local authority not to see buses in a quality bus corridor it fought hard to implement."
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown manager Owen Keegan also said it was difficult to plan routes with Dublin Bus.
"It is very frustrating when major areas could be serviced and there is no commitment - and it's not for the want of asking."
Fingal county manager David O'Connor said the idea of using the Phoenix Park as a Dublin Bus route would have to be "very seriously" considered.
The Irish Times