Traffic changes in Dublin city centre are needed to keep the city moving and competitive, transport and tourism minister Paschal Donohoe said.
“We have a common objective, in the coming years we are going to see an additional 40,000 journeys into the city centre every single day and we have to have a city centre that’s capable of handling that kind of quantity of travel in a way that means that the city centre is still a good place to live in, do businesses in and invest in,” said minister Donohoe, on RTE’s This Week radio show yesterday.
The minister said he would engage with all stakeholders and that he has a duty to all, not just retailers.
Pushed, by the presenter of the programme, on the idea that retailers should get the first say on a detailed plan which is to be drawn up, the minister said: “I’ve a duty to everybody involved with this. There’s a consultation process underway, approximately 2,000 submissions have now been received. It’s either a consultation process or it isn’t. If people input into it, everybody should expect to have their voice heard. That has now happened, when all of these submissions have been considered I’m confident we can come up with a way that will balance the competing needs that are there.”
Asked how can you differentiate between commuter cars and shopper cars, the minister said: “The truth is you can’t actually. What we are looking at is the car overall, there will be still be journeys that will be taken into the city centre via car… and I absolutely accept that the car will play a role in the future. But for shorter journeys we want to give people an alternative.”
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He added: “That’s why Luas Cross City is so important, why we are opening up the Phoenix Park tunnel in 2016 to allow direct access between Heuston and Grand Canal Dock (via Connolly), and looking at measures to increase train frequency into the city centre, and that’s also why Dublin Bus got investment in a further 90 buses this week.”
Referring to a Red C poll for the Irish Parking Association, the minister said: “With due respect to the association and their report, what they were mostly doing in that survey was focusing on people who are going into shop — we also have people who are living in the city centre, we have people going into work in the city centre and we have tourists. If you look at spend, the National Transport Authority did a study on this earlier on in the year, 56% of all retail spend comes from people who use public transport.” That survey found that over 80% of Dublin city centre retail spend is from non-car shoppers.
Donohoe said: “What we want to do is have a mix of transport options in the coming years that means our city is not overwhelmed by the anticipated demand for travel we’re going to see for people coming into Dublin. And that that is in the interest of everybody, whether they are retailers, residents, investors, or tourists. In the same way we are going to deliver Luas Cross City which will mean a extra 10 million journeys on public transport.”
He added: “I’ve a duty to all stakeholders in relation to this. I’ve outlined what I believe is the shared objective we should have for Dublin so that, in years to come, it continues to be a good place to live in, invest in and sell in. In order to do that we have to further improve the public transport options into it and the taxpayer will have to invest to make that happen.”