Sunday 20 April 2008

Traffic in capital still heavy despite 14pc drop

MOTORISTS in the Greater Dublin area are still facing bumper to bumper traffic during rush hour, according to AA Roadwatch -- despite new figures which show a dramatic drop in the number of cars entering the city centre.

New figures from Dublin City Council (DCC) show that between 1997 and 2007 the number of cars entering the city between the Royal and Grand canals during morning rush hour dropped by over 10,000 to 63,269 -- a drop of 14pc.

But Conor Faughnan of AA Roadwatch says despite this "hidden success", thousands of commuters in the capital's suburbs are facing heavy traffic.

"It sounds strange when you hear people calling Dublin city traffic a disaster," Mr Faughnan said. "But it really depends where you are. However, in the city centre, traffic has improved.

"There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, there has been an increase in traffic volumes away from the city caused by more jobs outside the city centre.

"The other is the improvement in the provision of public transport -- the Luas now carries 29 million people and there are improvements like Quality Bus Corridors."

But Mr Faughnan pointed out that traffic volumes along other routes linking the city to areas like Swords, Blanchardstown, Lucan and the N11 continued to suffer heavy traffic.

Figures show an increase of 300 buses entering the city over the last 10 years -- up 18pc.

Dublin Bus accounted for 80pc of the bus traffic in and out of the city between 2002 and 2007. But the number of private buses operating in the city centre is steadily increasing, with a 30pc jump in the same five-year period.

The effect of the Dublin Port Tunnel, which opened last January, can also be seen, with the volume of goods vehicles dropping to just under 1,500 in 2007 from 2,291 in 2006 and 2,711 in 2005.

A small increase of 1,000 cars entering the city since 2006 may also be due to the opening of the Port Tunnel, as more motorists opt to travel on city streets since the introduction of the five axle ban.

The number of commuters choosing to ride a motorcycle to work in order to get around quicker has jumped by a third since 1997 to 2,429.

The number of cyclists entering the city increased by 48.

The DCC survey was based on traffic counts at 33 locations on the cordon at the Royal and Grand Canals.

Fiach Kelly
Irish Independent

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