Thursday 23 April 2009

Council backs rush-hour ban on cars in city centre

DUBLIN City councillors have voted to ban cars from the capital's main thoroughfare but only during morning and evening rush hours.

Instead of imposing a 24-hour seven-day a week ban as originally proposed, members of the Transport Committee instead decided to scale back the ban and review it six months after it begins operating.

The move came because of concerns from city traders that up to 2,500 jobs could be lost in the city centre if private cars were banned from using Dame Street, College Green, Westmoreland Street and College Street.

Members of the committee voted unanimously to impose the ban which will operate Monday to Friday from 7am to 10pm and 4pm to 7pm.

But the full council has yet to vote on the proposal, meaning the first option -- a complete ban at all times -- could yet be imposed.


The full council will meet in May where the issue will be debated, but it is expected the ban will be imposed and implemented in July.

Council transport planners said that less than 6pc of cars entering the city boundary would be affected in the morning period because few travel along the affected route.

But introducing the measure would lead to improved journey times for Dublin Bus services -- 60pc of which pass through the affected area -- and which cost the company €3m because of congestion.

In a worst case scenario there would be a "low level" of impact on retail outlets, Brendan O'Brien said, adding that the move to introduce the ban at peak periods would benefit 45pc of bus services. The move would be reviewed when other public transport measures -- including construction of two bridges across the River Liffey, implementation of real-time information on bus times and integrated ticketing -- were delivered.

Fine Gael's Paddy McCartan said the move was being "rushed", and cautioned against any proposal which would reduce the number of shoppers in the city.

But Cllr Deirdre Heney (FF) said if the move wasn't done by the council, it would be imposed upon it.

"We must improve public transport," she said. "Buses are hugely cost-effective and we have to facilitate them. I think if we don't do it it will be forced upon us in the form of a congestion charge. I believe we should get on with it."

The Dail Transport Committee will today hear submissions on the issue.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent

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