SAGE communication to NTA/BusConnects for May 2019

SAGE presentation to NTA/BusConnects.

SAGE [Shankill Action for a Green Earth] was established in 2015 to develop awareness of the critical importance of Climate Change, to establish activities in Shankill to mitigate the escalating damaging consequences of climate change if we take inadequate action to limit our national greenhouse gas emissions, to support the maintenance of an optimum environment and enhance biodiversity and to improve the understanding of, and commitment to solving Climate Change among our politicians.

Our Comments on the Route 13 Bus Corridor will be made from the perspective of the absolute necessity of taking action on climate change, something which must involve every citizen and every organisation, as made clear by Mr. Richard Bruton and to minimise environmental harm caused by the proposals.

Sage makes this presentation assuming that the bus corridors and other changes to the Dublin transport system are intended to improve the broad range of public transport in order to make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Thus it becomes necessary to consider Route 13 as part of a broader perspective than just the effects of the proposal on the village of Shankill.

Reading the section of the 2017 National Mitigation Plan concerned with transport, it is clear that the focus is on transport in general, it is also very vague with little in the way of clear proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are no policies discernible with the intention of strongly encouraging people to transfer from private motor transport to public transport, bicycles or walking.

It is clear that the thinking of the NTA does not include a national policy designed to sharply decrease the 19.8% of national greenhouse gas emissions due to transport. For this to be done it is essential that NTA and BusConnect policies are designed to move a significant proportion [majority] of journeys from private to public systems.

Returning to issues relating to Route 13 in general and Shankill in particular:

1. Why is it proposed to reduce the number of bus journeys through Shankill from 13 to 8?

2. Why is it proposed to change route 145 so that it no longer serves Heuston Station and instead almost entirely duplicates the route155?

a. Both of these changes reduce the incentives to change from private to public transport.

b. Both changes sit oddly with the claim in Bus Connect News of 7th February last that there will be a 27% increase in journeys.

3. What is the evidence that journey-time savings of 40 – 50% can be made on BusConnect route 13? And what proportion of that time is it suggested would accrue in Shankill? Many different sources are absolutely clear that current delays to the buses travelling through Shankill are either nonexistent or trivial. Significant delays either occur in Bray town which is not part of the BusConnect Route 13 plan, or en route due to the number of passenger stops required or due to the stopping of vehicles in the bus lanes, taxis and delivery vehicles being the most common. If alternate buses were ‘express’ with limited stops, we would suggest, Shankill, Foxrock to connect with 46 series buses, Stillorgan and UCD and Donnybrook onwards. This would greatly reduce journey times for those taking the longer journeys.

In general transport could be greatly improved by the establishment of a feeder bus service between Bray Dart station or better, the new station proposed at Woodbrook, Shankill Dart station, Loughlinstown Hospital and the LUAS, currently at Brides Glen. This would have the added benefit of reducing the demand for free parking. At present Shankill Dart parking is inadequate and overspill causes problems for the local estates during the working week. Luas parking is at capacity both at Brides Glen and Carrickmines.

4. Unlike many other named parts of Dublin, Shankill has a very strong identity as a village which residents greatly value. The proposal to effectively put a four lane highway through the village is totally unacceptable to the village of Shankill; it would have the effect of dividing the village, making contact between east and west [new and old] much more difficult. It is reasonable to expect that traffic on the road will increase in the future due to the amount of building proposed for the local area, which in principle could lead to delays, however one possible way to deal with this is to install traffic lights at either end of the village which will give priority to the buses. Obviously this would result in delays to private transport but this would have the desirable effect of encouraging private transport into public transport. If pull-ins were installed at the bus stops, which could be done with minimal disruption to pedestrian or cycle movements, this would facilitate the movement of necessary private transport.

5. Besides being concerned with issues of energy management relating to Climate Change, SAGE is also actively concerned with the environment and biodiversity. Shankill is a village which has a wonderful range of mature and developing trees which support a wide variety of bird, animal and insect life. Over 15,000 of these trees have been planted with the support of Dunlaoghaire Rathdown County Council, Shankill Tidy Towns and Crann, one for every inhabitant of Shankill.

It is clear from reading the BusConnect proposal for Shankill that the plan includes the felling of a very large number of mature and developing trees, a proposal which would have the most serious consequences for the ambiance of the village, reverse a long term program of enhancing our village environment and it would also be contrary to the needs of Ireland where maintaining our capacity to capture carbon is critical, as is the maintenance of biodiversity as explained in such detail in the recent United Nations report.

6. At a recent meeting convened by the EU in Mount Street each of the three speakers from Pontevedra in Spain, Paris and Amsterdam stressed the same points: to change an entire city requires:

a. A clear plan to move the city to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

b. That this plan equally importantly will make the city a more pleasant place for residents, due to much reduced pollution and greater safety and ease of moving around based on pedestrianisation, greater use of bicycles, Public transport and far fewer cars. Experience shows that people then move back into the city to live thus greatly reducing private car journeys.

c. All this to be done by improving public transport in favour of private.

d. Emphasising the importance of engaging the public and listening to their concerns and knowledge of local conditions. Planning officials must be prepared to walk the proposed routes and discuss proposed changes with interested locals.

7. In general it is essential that public transport is given full priority over private if private transport is to be reduced to the extent necessary to have any significant effect on Climate Change, which has to be our top priority. This will have two effects

a. Public transport will become more attractive as it is facilitated to keep accurate schedules.

b. Private transport becomes less attractive as it becomes subject to more delays, this will encourage change in transport habits in favour of the public systems.

8. Public transport must be seen as an integrated whole comprising bus, rail, bicycle and pedestrian systems.

a. Thus it should be an integral part of the planning process to ensure that private transport can easily integrate with public, to facilitate this it is essential that there is plenty of free parking available at park and ride connections, often rail but also bus. Bus transport should be frequent and reliable and should as far as possible allow easy exchange between systems and routes, as it appears the bus connect restructuring aims to do, all with decent shelters.

b. In general there should be a move to provide free parking and transport on all commuter routes as this will have considerable drawing power to bring private transport into the public system as it would provide considerable savings over fuel and parking costs. Congestion and other charges could add further incentives to change over.

9. In view of the climate change emergency the entire transport system should be converted to electric as soon as possible and the capacity of the Luas at least doubled with corresponding changes in the parking facilities. This would clearly require some new thinking on controlling transport in the City Centre. One possibility would be to terminate alternative LUAS trams at Stephen’s Green on the South and Parnell on the North side.

10. Members of SAGE are deeply concerned members of the community of Shankill and greatly value the village atmosphere which is nurtured so well by the many organisations we have functioning in Shankill. The proposed Route 13 changes will do immense damage to the ambiance of the village, will produce no significant improvement in bus journey times and rather than contributing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will make the situation worse. Such serious damage to a community and to the national carbon plan for no discernible benefit is totally unwarranted.

Signed on behalf of SAGE:

Patrick Davey

p.s. please consider supporting Shankill Village communicate via ShankillMatters /Shankill TidyTowns and Save Shankill Village with NTA early in May 2019 via individual contributions via cbc@busconnects.ie or see signed petition