herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Businesses challenge claim car ban has led to quicker bus journeys

A Garda redirects a motorist who turned right on to O’Connell Bridge after travelling on the North Quays
A Garda redirects a motorist who turned right on to O’Connell Bridge after travelling on the North Quays

City businesses have rejected claims that bus journey times have improved since a ban on private cars taking right-hand turns on O'Connell Bridge was introduced earlier this month.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) claims that for buses travelling along the north quays, journey times between Ormond Quay and D'Olier Street have been cut by 37pc - or 3min 30sec - just over a third off the usual travel time, between 8am and 9am.

And from 9am to 10am, the journey is 4min 30sec quicker, almost halving (45pc) the journey time from the previous year, the NTA said. In the evening peak between Aston Quay and Essex Quay on the northside, buses have reduced the travelling time by 2min 30sec. There are "equally significant reduction" of between a fifth to a quarter in the usual travelling times during other hours.

But the Dublin Chamber of Commerce has rejected the figures, saying they are "at odds" with feedback from commuters and shoppers who complain of longer journey times.

Significant

They say the improvements highlighted by the NTA "failed to show" the impact the changes are having on the wider city.

It said some 63pc of businesses reported longer commutes, with just 2pc of commuters saying their trip was quicker. A third said there was no change.

"The success of the recent changes on the quays cannot be determined by these figures alone," said Graeme McQueen, head of public affairs.

"Dublin Chamber calls on the NTA to publish overall bus journey times for commuters using routes through the quays and for bus routes which are impacted by - but may not be benefiting from - the recent changes." The chamber warned of a "high concern" among businesses regarding how the city centre will function over the medium term, resulting in "high levels of uncertainty"and preventing companies from making investment decisions.

Confident

But the NTA said that tens of thousands of commuters had benefited from the changes. Not only did Dublin Bus services benefit, but private buses and taxis also.

"Some businesses expressed concerns over the bus prioritisation measures for the quays, but we were always confident that not only would they deliver faster journey times for passengers, but that they would also free up scarce road space," NTA chief executive Anne Graham said.