Dublinbikes expansion is too slow, says DCC transport chair
Dublin City Council (DCC) is moving at glacial speed to expand its Dublinbikes network, according to the chair of its transportation committee.
Green Party councillor Ciaran Cuffe said that while he welcomes plans by Dublinbikes to add 15 new docking stations, ambitions to expand the network to 300 docking stations nationwide seem to have fallen by the wayside.
"My gosh, it's moving slowly," said Cllr Cuffe, who is chair of DCC's transportation committee.
He represents the north inner city, where many of the new docking stations will be located.
According to the Dublinbikes Strategic Planning Framework 2011-2016, the scheme was to be expanded in 14 phases, which would ultimately bring 5,000 bikes and 300 docking stations throughout the city.
"We are only now at phase two," Cllr Cuffe told the Herald.
As of 2016, there were 101 docking stations and 1,500 bikes available to rent.
In what DCC described as an "intentionally ambitious plan" - endorsed by the council in 2010 - the expansion was set to take place over a 10-year period, at a cost of around €10m a year.
The scheme is funded through a combination of commercial sponsors (15pc), DCC (15pc) and annual membership and user fees (70pc).
The National Transport Authority (NTA) also provided €5.2m in capital funding when the scheme was expanded to 57 stations with 950 bikes in 2014.
However, the scheme was €376,211 in the red by 2015, with operational expenditures of €1,928,950 and a total income of €1,552,739 for that year.
DCC officials responsible for implementing the scheme were unavailable for comment last night.
However, Cllr Cuffe said the scheme is successful and should be expanded city-wide to ease traffic congestion, especially in the city centre.
"The NTA has helped with [funding] for new bike stands, but we need to persuade them to keep expanding," he said.
Green Party Dail candidate Neasa Hourigan also urged Transport Minister Shane Ross to release €30m in funding over the next three years to expand the scheme.
Meanwhile, construction is due to commence this month on 15 new docking stations for the scheme.
These will include nine in the Grangegorman and Phibsborough areas of Dublin 7, five in the north inner city in Dublin 1, and two in the south inner city in Dublin 2, including Merrion Square and Wilton Terrace.
"The current potential construction start date is the second week in January, subject to agreement of all stakeholders on station locations and designs which have been circulated for comment," DCC officials were told last month.