Submission on Revised BucConnects Proposals

The National Transport Authority (NTA) recently announced revised proposals on the changes to the Dublin bus network, and have been engaging in a public consultation. I am concerned that a number of communities are not sufficiently provided for in the new plans. As part of the public engagement process, I have submitted the following letter to the NTA outlining the issues I have with the revised proposals.

This can be read as follows:


Dublin Area Bus Network Redesign

National Transport Authority

Dún Scéine

Harcourt Lane

Dublin 2

D02 WT20

10th December 2019

Submission of Joan Burton TD to BusConnects on Dublin 15, Dublin 7 and B Spine Proposals

Please find here my submission in respect of the revised draft of the BusConnects plans for changes to the Dublin bus network. The content of my submission is based on feedback I received from constituents since the revised BusConnects proposals were published, and from public meetings and consultations I have held. Residents of all ages are seriously concerned that the proposals will involve significant increases in commute times, arising mainly from the Hub arrangements. The areas in question are very heavily populated, with 100,000+ in the Blanchardstown area and 20,000+ on the Navan Road. These areas are bigger than Limerick or Galway or Waterford and need a serious amount of buses, particularly to the City Centre, which allows people to access areas such as the Quays, the core business district, shopping and entertainment areas, and universities. People depend on buses.

39 Route – Blanchardstown, Clonsilla, Coolmine

Plans to remove the current direct route for residents of the Clonsilla, Coolmine and Blanchardstown Village areas pay no regard to the demographics of these areas, where there is an aging population, many of whom suffer from various ailments and limited mobility. The feedback I have received from residents indicate that if they must travel backwards to Blanchardstown Shopping Centre to then get a bus to the city centre, they are more likely to use their car. Residents have expressed to me their worry that the current proposals will worsen services and connectivity for older people and those without cars, including students and young people.

Residents are also concerned about the use of Blanchardstown Shopping Centre as a Hub. Those familiar with the area are aware that the Centre is virtually inaccessible to vehicular traffic, including buses, during busy festive seasons and weekends. There is also concerns that the current free parking in the Centre will be removed by the private owners of the Centre, as they will not tolerate an ad hoc Park and Ride that would take away parking spaces for their customers.

37 Route – Castleknock

Many residents have expressed to me their preference for the retention of the existing 37 route, that avoids Phibsborough Cross, a notorious traffic intersection. People want continued access to the Quays and City Centre, and the south Dublin city core business district.

38a Route – Corduff, Mulhuddart, Tyrrelstown

Residents are concerned that the 363 route will only run at peak times in the mornings. After peak times, buses revert to a skeleton service and all Mulhuddart buses go to the Shopping Centre. Residents are concerned that this will leave them stuck in traffic and congestion.

70 Route – Clonee, Littlepace

Residents are adamant about their desire to keep the 70 route serving Littlepace. They want to keep their direct route to the City Centre, not just at peak times, but all day. Currently, the 70 route is full to the brim during peak hours and is unable to let on anymore passengers after leaving Littlepace. The loss of the 70 route directly to the City Centre has the potential to add 20-30 minutes to residents’ commutes.

I request the NTA study the feasibility of a B3 route from the B spine based on the old 70 route to Dunboyne that would allow passengers from Littlepace transfer to a B route without having to go into Blanchardstown Shopping Centre. Also, can the NTA provide an update on how they propose to address the concerns of resident’s of Huntstown Wood and the concern of parents and community of Sacred Heart of Jesus National School, Huntstown about the proposed changes. The NTA needs to consult in detail with the area about their proposals.

122 Route – Ashington and Dublin 7

Residents are unhappy that they will be losing their service on the 122 route, and that it is being replaced with a bus that will only go once every hour. The service changing to once every hour will make things difficult for a lot of people who use the current service, especially those getting on the first stop in Ashington Park leaving Ashington, and those getting off at the final stop in Ashington Park coming home.

While there is a more frequent service on the Navan Road, residents feel that it is quite a considerable walk for people when it is raining, for those who are elderly, for those with young children, for those carrying home shopping etc. Residents have expressed to me that such an infrequent service may lead to people not using the bus and will lead to an increase in cars on the roads.

It is now unclear if the replacement route serves the LUAS station at Broombridge. People wish to see the replacement route continue to service the LUAS and to see any replacement service continue to serve the Mater Hospital.

Residents are relying on promises from BusConnects that residents will have access to all bus routes travelling along the Navan Road. Now, residents are left waiting at stops as buses pass them by. They can not afford to lose access to anymore bus routes.

40e Route – Hollystown

Residents in Hollystown have told me that they feel they are being completely isolated by the proposed changes. Many would like the 262 route to pass by the Hollystown roundabout, whether that be via R122 or N2 and down R121 and back out toward the Cappagh Road. This would be a detour of an extra two minutes (1.2km) and would better serve the growing Hollystown community.

Hollystown residents are also assured of their desire to keep the 40e route, that connects the area to the Luas station at Broombridge. I fully support them in their call for the retention of this bus service.

Blanchardstown Hub

There is enormous scepticism in the community about the capacity of the Shopping Centre road network to cater for an efficient bus hub in addition to the considerable traffic and congestion that is already experienced. Repeatedly I have encountered feedback from constituents who are put off by the possibility of two bus journeys due to the fact they would have to transfer in the Shopping Centre. Opposition to transferring buses at Blanchardstown Shopping Centre is particularly strong among residents on Clonsilla Road and Littlepace.

Dublin 15 & Dublin 7 Schools

A vital feature of the bus system is that it is used to ferry large numbers of school children up and down the Navan Road and to and from primary and secondary schools which are spread throughout the area. Unfortunately, the proposals set out in the proposed changes to the 37 route, the 38a route, the 39 route, the 70 route, the 122 route and the 40e route, will cause many families to use their cars out of necessity. Thus, conflicting with the purpose of BusConnects.

TU Dublin Blanchardstown

TU Dublin is a key education provider in the Dublin 15 area with approx. 3,500 students. TU Dublin would like the NTA to revisit some of the suggested routes to better serve the campus and to provide enhanced access to the University. As the campus is located some distance from any rail link or LUAS network, it relies heavily on the bus network for students and staff. They would like a City Centre route to service a stop within the campus. They would like consideration to be given to a Blanchardstown/Swords direct bus route. They also suggest that route 262 also stops within the campus.

Conclusion

People are extremely concerned that they may be forced to spend extra time on their already long commute. There remains a need for the BusConnects project to take account of people’s legitimate concerns. As the BusConnects staff must be aware, huge numbers of people depend on buses. Little or no progress has been made on rail services, the long-promised electrification of the railway has been again delayed while trains are seriously overcrowded, and the promised extra rail carriages are yet to materialise. Buses are the only option for some, and a lifeline for many.