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Millions spent on Dublin’s Bus Rapid Transport projects

Over €2.6 million was spent in 2015 and 2016 combined on the pre-planning work for proposed Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) routes for Dublin, while work is planned to go ahead on cutdown versions of Dart Underground and Metro North projects.

The NTA said recently that they are reviewing if the BRT route to Swords will go ahead fully, or as just a bus lane upgrade or as BRT just within the M50 to serve areas which would not be served by Metro North.

But despite the unconfirmed status of the Swords BRT project over €2 million was spent on it between 2015 and 2016, in the year leading up to when cycling projects were put on hold due to lack of funding. This excludes any funding which went towards the project before or in 2014, when the three routes were announced in February of that year.

The last available plan for the Swords BRT route includes mixing walking and cycling, and mixing cycling with non-BRT buses —  similar to the design of the Clontarf to City Centre Cycle Route, which is on the planned Clongrifin BRT route. 

The planning drawings for the cycle route make no mention of BRT stops, but pre-planning versions of the drawings seen by highlight how separate space will be used for BRT and non-BRT buses.

The design practice of giving BRT buses separated space and higher priority means bicycles are mixed with conventional buses and people cycling are also mixed on shared footpaths. But it isn’t just an issue for cycling, experts in transport planning and buses have criticised the idea of giving greater priority to BRT buses rather than giving all buses high priority.

Meanwhile, despite population growth in line with or larger than predicted, cutdown versions of the Metro North and Dart Underground rail projects are still in pre-planning. The possible cuts include removing at least one underground station on both projects, and running the metro line above ground in Ballymun. Both projects will need new planning permission.

Figures from the National Transport Authority (NTA) show than less than €800,000 was spent on the two rail projects in the last two years, up to November 2016.

Below is the response from the NTA to a Freedom of Information request last year. The text in the images are from the NTA:


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Metro North

Dart Underground


The amounts spent are for up to November 2016.

The NTA re-issued their reply on the issue of cycling funding cuts:

Here’s the draft BRT route maps from 2014: is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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  1. Why does everything have to go through the city centre? I don’t get it. Three or four interconnected hubs in places like Dun Laoghaire, Tallaght, Blanchardstown and Santry would take a lot of the pressure out of the city centre and probably cut down commute time for many people.

  2. There have been cross city routes before, and maybe they still exist. For example I used to get a bus direct from Tallaght to Stillorgan. However I don’t think those routes were very successful based on the number of people carried. In general I think people overestimate how useful a route will be based on their own personal use case. So they assume that there are enough people who want to go from Dun Laoghaire to Tallaght and that it would be massively useful because they want to do that and they feel going through the city centre is wasteful. However there are likely not thousands of people wanting to do that exact trip and since there is unlikely to be a BRT corridor along that route the time saving might not be as much as expected.

    However I do think that busses are going to have to start being directed around the city centre. The amount of busses going down the quays and through the Dame Street – O’Connell Street corridor is unsustainable in my opinion.

    I think my ideal would be a ring of bus terminals close to the canal cordon. Each one of those would be connected to the outskirts of the city by BRT corridors and there would be very frequent transport (either small bus or tram) that connected these terminals by circling the cordon and also by crossing the city centre. A trip from Dun Laoghaire to Tallaght that involves two changes might not be ideal but it should be fast provided you use busses on the BRTs and it should be a lot more flexible since you will have many different routes to choose from.


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