COMMENT & ANALYSIS: According to the Irish Examiner, the Taoiseach has complained that BusConnects Cotk has left elderly people in tears, but should he look to Fianna Fáil councillors?
It was reported by the Examiner that Micheál Martin said he shared the concerns of councillors in his party about BusConnects Cork which he said had “created extraordinary anxiety among people across the city”.
Martin said that in Dublin that the plan which “eventually emerged was significantly different from the one that was originally proposed” and he said there was “question marks with that approach”. But surely — generally — it’s a good thing that the NTA is willing to alter its plans after public consultation?
Martin thinks not because “in the meantime, a lot of anxiety and stress is caused. I think different approaches could yield similar or better results”.
Could a different approach include councillors stopping spreading misinformation, and riling people up?
Councillors have warned of chaos, called the project “undemocratic”, have claimed without any substance that their own businesses would close… and that’s just some of the public rhetoric which is been said. Some have even as much as admitted that this process of issuing hyperbolic statements is a strategy to water down the plans.
Local observers have also said they have attended meetings where councillors spread misinformation and scaremongering. Claims were made which were clearly not based on the actual plan.
There’s even a conspiracy theory that BusConnects is a some kind of “Troika” deal done between the NTA and the Greens when BusConnects pre-dates the Greens going into Government.
Micheál Martin is likely right about one thing, a different approach might help BusConnects — one key change would be to implement trials of some of the bus gates and show the sky doesn’t fall in. Trialing measures such as bus gates — supported by extras services where it makes sense — can also find the problem in plans. Adjustments can be made or even ideas changed.
There’s also questions around if the NTA is still too focused on widening roads by CPOing front gardens. But — as happened in some places in Dublin — a move a way from taking front gardens or cutting trees requires more car restrictions. And avoiding car restrictions is the main thing on the minds of some councillors.
This article clearly isn’t saying BusConnects is perfect, but we’re in a climate crisis and the fact is that BusConnects isn’t half as radical as it needs to be. If leadership is so lacking what is a fairly mild BusConnects Cork plan, it’s not clear what hope climate action with this generation of politicians.
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History won’t favour this lack of leadership.