— Councillors vote in support of city officials acting on College Green traffic.
Tram services on the Luas Cross City route, an extension of the green line, are only working because pedestrian priority at crossings is reduced, trams are not running to full frequency, and new longer trams are not yet in service, the Dublin City Council CEO said tonight.
CEO Owen Keegan said that pedestrians at some of the busiest crossings in the country were left waiting on crowed footpaths up to three minutes to cross. He said that this could not be sustained for more than a few weeks.
A motion was put forward at the monthly city council meeting by independent councillor Nial Ring calling on Keegan not to put any traffic restrictions in place ahead of a decision by An Bord Pleanála on the planned College Green Plaza. The plaza was to stop buses from traveling between College Green and Dame Street (east-west).
The council management said that it needs to keep the city functioning while waiting for the An Bord Pleanála process. But as not to directly interfere with the workings of An Bord Pleanála, the council is understood to be looking at removing buses between Grafton Street and College Street (north-south).
An oral hearing on the project is now delayed because insufficient time was allowed for public consultation. The mistake was the fault of An Bord Pleanála, which outlined an incorrect required time frame for which the public consultation was to take place, Keegan said tonight.
The first longer tram to arrive in Ireland Alstom in France is currently undergoing testing before it can enter normal passenger service and the same process will contuine as the new trams arrive in the city. When the new trams enter service, the frequency of trams using the city centre will be increased.
Cllr Ring’s motion said that the CEO should wait so that he “cannot be accused of pre-empting a decision or overriding the authority and/or the independence of An Bord Pleanála in its deliberations on the application”.
Green Party Cllr Ciaran Cuffe, the head of the city traffic committee, put forward a counter-motion which said: “In the light of An Bord Pleanála’s decision to defer the Oral Hearing for the College Green Plaza this Council calls on the Chief Executive and his staff to manage city centre traffic in the interim in a manner that safely supports the transport needs of residents, workers, retailers and visitors to the city in a sustainable manner.”
Cllr Ring’s motion was defeated by 41 votes to 15, and then Cllr’s Cuffe’s motion was passed by 48 to 5.
Cllr Ray McHugh, speaking for Sinn Féin, said that the party was not supporting the motion as the city needs to progress and it can’t keep everybody happy.
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Cllr Paddy Smyth, Fine Gael, said that if opponents have a view which is supported by evidence, they should support put that forward, otherwise that they should let the city manager and the traffic section do its job.
Cllr Mary Freehill, Labour, asked how pushing traffic out of the city centre would affect the M50 and asked for more full council meetings about traffic, not just leaving traffic to the traffic committee.
Cllr John Lyons, People Before Profit, said that the party favours the plaza but fears that there would not be full engagement with stakeholders, so, they will be supporting the motion.
Cllr Patrick Costello, Green Party, said that pedestrians should be getting priority and issues will get worse once longer trams start running.
Cllr Pat Dunne (United Left), speaking for the left technical group, said that his taxi driver friends would give out to him but that the city could look at excluding taxis or taxis without passengers from College Green.
Former mayor, Cllr Brendan Carr, Labour, said that information provided by An Bord Pleanála was the cause of the mistake and the city manager had to take action, for example, for the safety of people walking and cycling.