SAGE re-draft communication to NTA/BusConnects for May 2019 deadline

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, and to improve the understanding of, and commitment to solving Climate Change among our politicians.

Our Comments on the Route 13 (2 b) 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.

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 (2 b) 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 BusConnects policies are designed to move a significant proportion [majority] of journeys from private to public systems.

Returning to issues relating to Route 13 (2b) in general and Shankill in particular:

1.      a. Why is it proposed to reduce the number of mature trees and green biodiversity spaces as per 13 BusConnects plan (2B)?

b. Why is it proposed to reduce the number of bus journeys through Shankill from 13 to 8 in approx. an hour?

2.      Why is it proposed to change route 145 so that it no longer serves Heuston Station and instead almost entirely duplicates the route 155?

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 or en route due to the number of stops required or due to stopping of vehicles in the bus lanes, taxis and delivery vehicles being the most common.

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 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 which would have the desirable effect of pushing private transport onto public.

5.      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. 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.

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 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 changes with interested locals.

7.      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 could be 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.

8.      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, how many Luas crossed the City and how many terminated either side being obvious issues.

Members of SAGE [Shankill Action for a Green Earth] are also 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 changes will totally destroy the ambiance of the village, will produce no improvement in bus journey times and will contribute nothing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Such serious damage to a community for no discernible benefit is totally unwarranted.

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