Arnotts’ CEO rallies businesses against Dublin city transport plan

Chief executive officer of retailer Arnotts and chairman of the Dublin Town business association, Ray Hernan, has rallied businesses against the city centre Transport Study, which he claims will have a very serious impact on cars use, “thereby on all businesses in the city centre.”

Dublin City Council said that the draft plan is designed to keep the city moving. It includes making sections of the quays only accessible to public transport, cycling and pedestrian only. Private cars are also to be excluded from College Green on a permitted bases, but this is understood to be required for the running of Luas Cross City, an extension of the green tram line.'s reader-funded journalism won't survive without your help. With over 762,000 views so-far this year, it's not just "avid cyclists" who read this website, but, if you want it to keep going, more support is needed from readers like you. Now, back to the article...

Pedestrianisation of Suffolk Street (artist’s impression pictured above) and a section of St Stephen’s Green North is also planned. The study is heavily linked to Luas Cross City works as well as planned BRT between Dublin city centre and Swords.

Public consultation of the transport study was recently extended — the deadline for submission is now August 7 at 5pm. Feeback can be given via or by email to

As the head of Arnotts, Hernan also chairs the Dublin Town body, previously known as the Dublin City Business Improvement District. In an email sent to businesses which have to pay extra rates for Dublin Town, Hernan said: “You may be aware that Dublin City Council and the NTA have published a Transport Study, which if implemented as currently proposed, will have a very serious impact on access for private car users to the city centre, and thereby on all businesses in the city centre.”

Before joining Arnotts in 2010, Hernan was chief financial officer of Brown Thomas, a company which has a history of predicting the death of city centre retailers over transport projects.

In the email titled “Urgent attention – Transport Study”, Hernan added: “While they claim that the focus is to reduce congestion at ‘rush hour’ the study does not differentiate between commuter traffic at peak times vs off peak consumer/customer traffic.”

“The over-arching objective of improving ‘accessibility and permeability’ and ‘improving confidence in the ability of the city centre to be the key focus of future investment’ is to commended; however their proposed plan to achieve this goal is, in my view, extremely blunt and has the potential to significantly impact your business irrespective of whether you are in the commercial, professional, hospitality or retail sector,” added Hernan

He said that Dublin Town and other business groups will be making submissions however it is imperative that as many individual businesses as possible make their views known by making a direct submission or simply note that you have read the Dublin Town submission and you are supportive of it,

Hernan said: “As part of our submission we will be insisting that robust consumer research is completed and a detailed business impact study is published before any transport plans are implemented. I would encourage you to urgently review the Study If you have not already done so.”


  1. How Groningen invented a cycling template for cities all over the world

    “Many people who lived in the old neighbourhoods were enthusiastic about our ideas. They saw we were changing things on a great scale. But there was also fierce opposition, especially from businessmen and shopkeepers who were convinced it would mean the end of their business if cars could no longer cross the centre. We tried to explain that we wanted to create a pleasant
    urban environment that eventually would attract more people to the centre and to their shops. But they were convinced they would go bankrupt if customers would not be able reach their shop by car,” says Van den Berg. “In the end, it turned out they were wrong.”

    Their version of “Bruin Thomas”, I assume.

  2. It would be far Healthier if they could get rid of all the private cars and Traffic out of the Central City area. no Cancer causing fumes. At the moment on any day of the week you can observe a huge amount of Pedestrians walking from St Stephens Green down Grafton Street and also those side Streets off Grafton Street Like Wicklow St etc including Suffolk Street.Then Westmoreland St O’Connell St Henry St. The Path is not wide enough to include them properly. Plus a huge volume of Cyclists traveling the route as well.

    So there is no room for cars anymore ,in the interests of everybody they should be banned. These Shopowners should not be allowed to dictate to everybody else.There is no room to Park anyway and some of those Carparks are in the way of the Pedestrians and Cyclists on narrow Streets. Most of their customers are Pedestrians and Cyclists anyway , very few Private Cars can Park anywhere now.

  3. A huge chunk of the city isn’t properly served by public transport, and if you go even 1o mins in any direction outside the city you’re just out of luck… I LOVED living in Boston and London and NYC and spending time in Chicago, Toronto, Paris and Berlin where public transport works.. I’d happily not have a car in any of those places… but you can’t survive without one in Dublin.. punishing drivers for the failure of the country to provide affordable dependable and accessible transport isn’t a plan, it’s a bad joke.

    As it is, it takes me twice as long and costs me twice as much to take public transport into the city.. it definitely discourages me from shopping in town or bringing my kids into town… and I know from many conversations that I’m not the only one.

  4. Part of the reason we never shop in the city centre is that it’s too much hassle to go in and get around. If we could cycle in with the kids we’d do that.

    Till then our shopping for almost everything except fresh food gets delivered by Amazon, ebay and Parcel motel. Even (and I kid you not) actual beds shipped in from the UK.

    But central Dublin? Can’t remember the last time we went shopping in there. Too much hassle.

  5. I propose all cyclists to carry a simple flyer that says, “I cycled here to buy this’ or something like that and leave it with every retailer they spend their money in.

    I’ve just spent a load of money on buying clothes for my wedding in different retailers over the last two months. I’d love to have left my flyer with each of them, especially the place I bought my suit…which I took home on my bike.

    This will make any of the retailers that are approached by Ray Hernan think twice about what he supports.

  6. @Chris O’Brien

    ‘You can’t survive in Dublin without a car’

    Funnily enough I survived living in Dublin for six years without a car, as do a couple of hundred thousand others on a daily basis.

  7. @Chris O’Brien I don’t, nor have I ever owned a car and I get by in Dublin quite well. I even did my Christmas shopping by bicycle. I just use buses/luas when I have to buy something too big to cycle with. The volume of people using our city every day cannot be accommodated by private cars and maybe if the city were a safe place for everyone to cycle, you and your family could park on the outskirts and hire Dublin Bikes for the rest of the journey. The whole plan is outlining a massive improvement in public transport services anyway so your point in kind of redundant.

  8. Also @PhilMurray, that’s a great idea. We could expand it to ‘I got here without using a private car’ ’cause DCC’s plan is to improve public transport as well.

  9. I have two kids to get around… I live in Rathfarnham. There are MANY people like me and none of them think that you can survive in that situation without a car.

    On top of that, I am a musician. I can not move my gear around on a bike or a bus. In fact Dublin is full of people that must carry things that won’t fit on a bike or a bus.

    On top of all of that, many people are not able to ride bikes, for physical reasons. On top of that, pubic transport is much more expensive than driving into town.

    And on and on.

    Bikes are grand – my wife rides one into work daily – but as a mode of transport for a family to get around the Dublin sprawl they are NOT an option…

    For shopping for a family, they are NOT an option.

    Public transport in Dublin is great if you have endless time on your hands, happen to live close to a meaningful route, don’t mind wasting money , don’t have anything heavy to move and don’t need to stay out later than half 11.

    For everyone else, it’s a nonsense.

    It doesn’t have to be, but it is.

  10. Chris, I get on fine with two kids (and coincidentally, carrying guitars and amps as a self-employed musician) without a car in Dublin 16.

    If you didn’t own a car, and say, used GoCar, for occasional journeys where a car was really necessary, you would definitely save money compared using public transport. I do. I saved about half the price of our house by not running a car.

    You can do family shops on bike with panniers, or, better still, a trailer or cargo bike. I do. It’s nice and hassle-free and you get exercise.

    Rathfarnham may not be as well served by public transport as where I am, but I’ve lived all over Dublin and always found public transport at least adequate.

    In terms of having forever, driving at peak times is the endless, pointless activity.

  11. “half the price” should be “quarter”. My half of half the price, if you see what I mean. Pretty decent saving though.

  12. It seems to me that the people who compiled this new vision for Dublin recognise that public transport is not meeting the needs of the city. This point is echoed across the comments posted here. The solution proposed by DCC, is to reduce the volume of private cars which will leave more room for public transport. In addition, new routes will be introduced (Luas and BRT).
    I certainly believe that the new rapid transit options, coupled with Dublin Bikes, will make the city accessible for a lot more people compared to the the current arrangement. This will in turn create opportunities for business, and make the city more enjoyable for all of us. Let’s not forget that the plan is to improve things, and not just leave us to stagnate. Dublin is a relatively small city, so it could be easy to get around if the infrastructure was better.
    It’s also worth noting that cars will still have access to the city centre, just restricted from driving through it. Instead, cars will need to use one of the routes to around the city. There are three options: the central orbital, outer orbital and M50. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that cars are being ignored, it’s just that priorities are changing to meet the needs of everyone.
    I think it’s great to see some ambition and vision from DCC. Yes, there are some important concerns to answer, but I hope we don’t get caught in a cycle of analysing every aspect, and end up doing nothing for another five years. Look how long it took us to implement the Luas.

  13. I’ve lived in Dublin 25 years without a car – I occasionally rent one if necessary but it’s rare – it’s amazing what people will put themselves through (stress of driving, parking and paying for a car) instead of trying alternatives. Groningen enacted their car-free vision nearly _40_ years ago (1977) – and we’re still facing opposition to a cut-down version of this!

  14. @ Chris

    Re: “In fact Dublin is full of people that must carry things that won’t fit on a bike or a bus.” … Maybe nobody needs to carry anything heavy in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Groningen etc?

    Re: “On top of all of that, many people are not able to ride bikes, for physical reasons” …does many here mean a small percentage of the population? And that would be a similar level to Amsterdam, Utrecht, Groningen etc?

    There is no plan to ban cars and there will still be ample car parking in the city centre. The plan just allows for alternatives and it sets out to improve public transport.

    The plan will improve public transport, cycling and walking options for tens of thousands of people. Complaining about public transport travel time and also complaining about a plan which will improve public transport travel time is trying to have it every which way.


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