herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Car park owners say city centre plan to restrict traffic will hit retailers hard

An artist's impression of DCC/NTA's transport plan for College Green
An artist's impression of DCC/NTA's transport plan for College Green

CAR park owners are the latest group to oppose plans to pedestrianise parts of Dublin City Centre, claiming that revenues for shops will drop by a quarter.

Under the proposals put forward by Dublin City Council and the National Transport Authority (NTA), Suffolk Street and parts of St Stephen's Green will be pedestrianised and traffic on College Green would be restricted to buses and the Luas.

Meanwhile, motorists would be encouraged to use a new car park near Heuston Station.

Decline

A survey of just over 1,000 shoppers from the Irish Parking Association (IPA), which represents the main car parks, said that if the restrictions are put in place, it will result in a 24pc decline in overall revenues from shopping and entertainment.

The city centre was experiencing a "difficult trading environment" and measures to restrict access could exacerbate the problem.

"Retail, tourism, hospitality and car park jobs in the city centre have to be given greater consideration in any planned transport changes in Dublin," president of the IPA Keith Gavin said.

"The IPA does not accept that making car access to the city centre more difficult will simply cause people to switch to other modes of transport.

"People who want to shop by car will travel to other destinations, or shop online, taking money out of the city centre and the economy."

The survey for the IPA found that car users spend an average of €134 per visit, compared to €94 for bus passengers and €71 for pedestrians.

The primary reason for visiting the city was shopping, at 88pc.

A submission to the council from Retail Ireland said it was "extremely disappointed" that the transport plans were announced without prior consultation.

"As sales slowly begin to recover after years of contraction, it is paramount that the role played by accessibility and parking in supporting the city centre's commercial success is acknowledged and protected by all stakeholders," it said.

Last June, the City Council unveiled the plans to restrict traffic through the city to avoid a repeat of the severe pressure which the capital endured during the boom.

The Dublin City Centre Transport Plan said the number of trips forecast into the city was expected to increase by 20pc by 2023, and warned that the road network simply could not cope with the extra traffic.

The latest opposition to the proposals comes after the Herald reported that drivers from a leading city taxi company have warned that some fares could jump by up to half if the plans are implemented.

Lynk Taxi Drivers Committee, who said they were representing 1,500 drivers, have penned a submission to the council outlining the price changes.

A cab from Dame Street to the IFSC costs approximately €10, the submission states. With the changed routes, as much as €5 or €7 could be added on to that price.

A night-time trip from the same street to Malahide is currently between €25 and €27 and that could rise to between €33 and €36 the submission states.

"This will be similar for all trips to the north of Dublin," the submission warns.

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