herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

€1bn overhaul to let buses bypass gridlocked roads

NTA chief Anne Graham and Transport Minister Shane Ross
NTA chief Anne Graham and Transport Minister Shane Ross

Transport bosses plan to spend €1bn creating high-speed bus corridors and introducing cashless ticketing in a bid to get commuters out of their cars.

The National Transport Authority's (NTA) Bus Connects plan aims to increase passenger numbers by 50pc to around 190 million trips a year by offering a network of segregated bus lanes with priority at traffic signals.

The move comes due to growing congestion, which is "strang- ling the life out of our cities", the NTA says.

It warns that average traffic speeds on the capital's main roads during the 8am to 9am peak is falling from 39kph to 33.7kph.

Potential

"This will radically transform bus services in the city," said NTA chief executive Anne Graham.

"Off-peak journey times can be delivered all day on priority corridors. There is the potential to hike numbers by at least 50pc."

Transport planners believe buses will form the spine of the transport network over the coming years, given that Dublin is a low-density city and plans for high-capacity transport systems such as Dublin Metro and Dart Underground are subject to funding constraints.

There are 11 bus corridors in the city and three orbital routes around it.

They are segregated from general traffic for only one-third of their length, which makes the system "less efficient, less reliable and less punctual", the NTA said.

Bus Connects aims to transform the network and segregate bus corridors from general traffic, with dedicated cycle lanes plus a high-speed Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) network across three routes - Blanchardstown to UCD, Clongriffin to Tallaght and Swords to the city centre.

It will also change the fleet to low-emission vehicles.

A complete redesign of the Dublin Bus network is also proposed, and all bus fares will go cashless in an attempt to reduce journey times.

The Leap card, credit or debit cards or mobiles will be used for payment, but there is no timeline for when cashless fares will be introduced.

A rebranding of the bus fleet is also proposed, as is a revamp of the fares structure to allow commuters to move between different transport modes without being hit with high fares.

A network of 11 park and ride sites is also planned at interchanges with the road, rail and Luas network.

It will take up to seven years to fully implement the plans.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said he believed it would "change people's habits" by guaranteeing quicker journeys and reliable services.

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