Tuesday 7 July 2009

College Green car ban to start within weeks

A hugely controversial car ban for Dublin City's College Green will be introduced within four weeks.

The city council's Transport 21 office has confirmed the peak-time prohibition will be brought in on July 27 - the last Monday of the month.

The council is planning a publicity campaign ahead of the start date, including a media briefing at the Bank of Ireland in College Green on July 20, when representatives from Dublin Bus and the council are expected to make presentations.

When the so-called 'bus gate' comes into effect, only buses and taxis will be allowed pass through the College Green area from 7am to 10am and from 4pm to 7pm - Monday to Friday. The drivers of private cars will have to find alternative routes through the city.

Dublin city councillors voted 15 to 12 in favour of the plans at May's meeting of the chamber.

"We're still in the process of finalising the whole media campaign" - Avo deBarra of the council's Transport 21 office told the Herald. "We've engaged the services of a PR company who are getting back to us with prices (for ads). Both print and the electronic media will be utilised" - Mr deBarra added. "In parallel with that, we'll be distributing information leaflets to the 24 public car parks in the city area" - he said.

While the full content has not been finalised, the leaflets will contain a map of the city centre, including the bus gate zone. It will also contain maps showing alternative routes motorists can take to cross the city.

Traffic signals - known as VMS signs - will be placed along the routes approaching College Green to direct motorists. The Dublin Chamber of Commerce has already warned the ban must not be allowed deter shoppers from travelling to Dublin city centre. One estimate puts job losses at 2,500 and lost revenue at €200m as a result of the restriction.

Chief executive of the Chamber, Gina Quinn, said her group's main concern is that the initiative "was due to happen as part of an overall plan for the build out of Metro North and the joining of the two Luas lines in the city centre".

She added - "The Samuel Beckett Bridge was supposed to be in place before College Green was closed to peak-time traffic. We were also supposed to have a public transport bridge across the river - as at Marlborough Street - and a real-time information system at all bus stops and by text for all users of Dublin Bus.

"What the chamber would have liked to have seen was that those measures would have been in place. Clearly, Dublin City Council has made the decision to bring the peak time ban for cars - Monday to Friday only - in advance of those measures."

The Irish Times


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