Major bus and Luas priority needed to avoid gridlock, warns report

IMAGE: Bus and Luas priority measures to be put in place on the north and south quays between the Four Courts and Liberty Hall.

— Council says measures needed to keep buses and trams running.
— Extra bus lanes to be added to north and south quays.
— Council officials, not councillors, will have final say on the plans.

Bus and tram priority measures are planned for Dublin’s quays between the Four Courts and Liberty Hall — the measures include new bus lanes and restricting access on Eden Quay to buses, taxis, bicycles and pedestrians.

Dublin City Council has issued a report on project ahead of the Dublin City transport committee meeting on Thursday.

The report warns: “Without any actions to reduce traffic on the North and South quays, then the operation of public transport and general traffic with the Luas will mean long delays for all modes and exacerbate the already congested area. It will mean air quality will deteriorate and the environment quality for walking and cycling will be much reduced.”

The council said that when Luas is running that trams are expected to run every 3 minutes in each direction, with 40 trams per hour. This will mean there will be a tram crossing the River Liffey every 90 seconds, which will stop traffic on both the north and south quays.

The trams using the Green line extension across the Liffey will be 53 meters long, the report states that “This means that a tram cannot stop on either O’Connell Bridge or the Rosie Hackett Bridge, otherwise it will block either the South or North Quays.”

The traffic management measures will also address chronic bus delays on Bachelor’s Walk, which is described as the “number 1 delay location for Dublin Bus services across the entire network”.

The council said it will commence non statutory public consultation under Section 37 of the Roads Traffic Act 1994, for a 6 week period beginning this Monday, February 27.

The report states: “It is proposed that [the measures] are introduced in August 2017 to allow for the changes to have a period of time to ‘bed down’ and to facilitate the beginning of trial running and testing of trams in that month.” Trams are expected to be fully operational by December.

The reports notes that funding to carry out the works has been allocated by the National Transport Authority under their Sustainable Transport Measures Grants programme.

IMAGE: The plan for Eden Quay and Bachelor’s Walk.

The project includes the following measures:

  • Bus, taxi, and bicycles only on both Eden Quay and the turn from Bachelor’s Walk to O’Connell Bridge, meaning private motorised traffic on Bachelor’s Walk will only be able to turn left onto O’Connell Street.
  • New bus lane and bus stops (ie double bus lane) on north quays (Ormond Quay and Bachelors Walk), with a reduction of general traffic lanes from two lanes to one lane from Millennium bridge.
  • New bus lane and bus stops (ie double bus lane) on south quays (Aston Quay and Wellington Quay), with a reduction of general traffic lanes from two lanes to one lane.
  • New bus lane on Winetavern Street, with a reduction of general traffic lanes from three to two.

The project includes limited sections of cycle lanes and does not include the Liffey Cycle Route, but the transport committee meeting on Thursday is also due to include an update on that route.

Consultants have given the council the view that an Environmental Impact Assessment report is not needed for bus and tram project. The council’s report can be read here.

Project drawings:
The following drawings are from the council’s report.

KEY: Yellow = planned bus lane; Oranage = planned cycle lane; aqua= existing bus lane; Red = bus stop; Purple = loading; Green = Luas tracks; Light blue = parking.

Winetavern Street:

Ormond Quay Upper and Wood Quay:

Close up of Ormond Quay Upper:

Ormond Quay Lower and Wellington Quay:

Ormond Quay Lower close up at Jervis Street:

Bachelor’s Walk

UPDATED: The report also includes other data including volumes of bicycles, private traffic, taxis and buses currently flowing around Eden Quay: 

8 Comments

  1. Finally, real progress, bit of bait and switch with the cycle project but who cares if it gets the job done!

  2. Interesting that city officials can just do stuff under the road traffic act when they feel it necessary. In this case they feel it necessary in order to maintain Luas services. With proper infrastructure (cycle tracks, proper public transport) and by eliminating private cars the whole city would function better. How come they didn’t use the road traffic act when it came to the Liffey cycle route? I ask that seriously. Why is the Luas deemed more important than cycling, when cycling has the potential to get far more people moving safely through the city.

  3. The Luas is already a large project that is nearly completed. Things that would stop it from working, like giving priority to cars, cannot happen. No politician wants to be held responsible for such an expensive project that doesn’t work. Handing off responsibility to ‘official’ is basically a scam. The councillors want this done, they just don’t want to be seen as responsible for negative issues (like slowing down motorists) so they hand that decision off to those dreadful ‘unelected officials’.

    If some officials tried to implement the Liffey cycle route we would still have the same protests drummed up by car park owners and senior people in up market shops who are in love with driving, the councillors would take the authority on to themselves and kill the plan.

  4. But the quays are already mostly taxis and buses… You’d need to eliminate the taxis to really make a difference. It would add a good deal of needed civility as well.

  5. @Robert — I’ve added an images — it shows buses carry more people but cars clog up the area and taxis are a fraction of other traffic.

    At between 8 and 9am before O’Connell Bridge on the quays there’s 610 cars, 118 buses and just 79 taxis. There’s nearly as many bicycles (542) as cars, but the bicycles take up a fraction of the space.

  6. @HivemindX
    Yes, I understand why they did it the way they did, because the Luas cost hundreds of millions. But that’s part of my point. The Luas cost hundreds of millions to move X amount of people. For a mere fraction of that, the same amount of people could easily be moved by bikes. Why aren’t councillors willing to roll out proper safe infrastructure to ensure that? Instead we have a drawn-out clusterfuck with the liffey cycle route, with councillors saying ‘oh, no, we can’t do that. We have to take into account all the stakeholders”. Which in the case of locals, I completely understand. But now, here they just go, “oh well, best just pass it off to the officials”.

    I’m gobsmacked at the cynicism of it all. Why is cycling, which can move so many more for so little less, why is that slapped down.

  7. @Citizen Wolf, it seems to me that the answer to that is that there isn’t enough wide spread support for cycling. Chances are there are more people who are irrationally against cycling who will be delighted to see such a scheme killed than there are cyclists who strongly want it. Killing such a scheme doesn’t really have a downside for a councillor.

    It seems that the same thing should apply to the Luas. It should be easy for councillors to decry the disruption and the loss of parking spaces. I think random individual voters are more likely to be possible Luas users than cyclists, but the majority of them are still going to be only accept personal cars as an option. I guess that the impetus for a project like Luas is wider. People on the Green line don’t really see much disruption and like that they have easy access to Dundrum shopping centre. People in Tallaght see more benefit from getting the Luas in to the city than they see disruption. It’s easier for councillors to say that their voters like the project and your voters should accept the greater good. The vast majority of voters in Dundrum or Tallaght don’t care about the cycle lane along the quays either way so locals who want unfettered access for their cars and businesses who short sightedly adn greedily think that car use needs to be propped up to increase their profits are the ones who get a say.

    Another factor, I think, is that a big infrastructure project is a feather in the cap of those involved. The Luas is a shiny thing that people can point at and say this successful project was brought in under my watch (even though I did nothing more than not object to it). Cycle paths just quietly get the job done so don’t have the same cachet. There will always be a certain sector who are enraged by any cycling facilities so as a councillor you will see very little plaudits for a cycle path and a certain amount of complaining every time you do anything that dares to take focus away from the private car. Remember the poster here who seems to have gotten bored but spent a while complaining about the cycle lanes in south county Dublin based on the bizarre premise that cycling was an elitist activity and that space would be better spent on something egalitarian like his private car.

  8. While there are a vocal minority of councillors against cycling measures which impact on cars, a majority of councillors, in Dublin City at least, seem to support major cycling measures.

    For example, a lot said they would support the Liffey Cycle Route staying on the quays: http://irishcycle.com/2016/07/22/liffey-cycle-route-survey-bulk-of-cllrs-want-to-keep-it-on-the-quays-but-strong-undecided-element/

    Sometimes councillors narrowly vote against cycling measures, like the issue of contra-flow on certain street, but that vote against was pushed that way by council officials saying it was not allowed in the process of the development plan (when it was allowed for certain road projects).

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