Wednesday 30 July 2008

Council has no congestion charge plans for Dublin city

DUBLIN CITY Council (DCC) has said it has "no proposals to introduce a pilot scheme of road pricing", as recommended by last week's report of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport.

The committee said its recommendations - including traffic restrictions and the banning of private cars from parts of the city centre - would be particularly necessary during building of the Metro North and the city's proposed new Luas lines.

The issue has become critical this week with the approval by Bord Pleanala of the €750million Northern Quarter retail district. Arnotts department store, which is spearheading the development, said it was "definitely going to proceed", which means additional traffic management implications for the city centre during its construction.

The Oireachtas Committee report said the city council should carry out a "feasibility study for congestion charging" in the city centre.

But it separately recommended Dublin City Council and other local authorities in the Greater Dublin area "to identify a suitable corridor for the introduction of a pilot road user charging scheme".

Yesterday, the Dublin Transportation Office (DTO) and the City Council appeared to back away from the proposal.

Both bodies said they were running traffic modelling based on likely scenarios, but a spokeswoman for the council repeated "there are no active proposals" to introduce a road pricing pilot programme.

Spokesman for the DTO Michael Ahern said that office's thinking was more geared towards the availability of parking spaces used by 67,000 commuters who park in the city centre every day. Ahern said it was clear that people were continuing to bring cars into the city because there were parking spaces. But given the demand for access to the city centre, it was "untenable that it can continue with current levels of car use," he said.

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey said yesterday that the Oireachtas report was "a useful contribution to the overall debate on the future for traffic in Dublin".

The Irish Times

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