Luas trips will hit 40m when city link opens
THE Luas will be profitable again in 2015 and will be undertake 40 million journeys annually after the new cross-city link opens two years later.
Rory O'Connor, acting chief executive of the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA), was speaking on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Green Line from St Stephen's Green to Sandyford.
Mr O'Connor suggested future expansions could bring the Luas to Lucan and Dublin Airport.
"I think it's fair to say that the Luas has been a remarkable success story over the last 10 years," Mr O'Connor told the Herald.
Some 32 million tram journeys will be taken throughout 2014, an increase on the 30.51 million last year.
It will bring the total number of passenger journeys to about 280 million by the end of this year.
"We have had a period where costs have gone up and we have had four years where we have had a small deficit. We expect to be making a surplus again for the full year of 2015," Mr O'Connor said.
The Luas Cross City, linking the Red and Green lines, will be operational in 2017. Critics have said the connection should have been made in the original plans.
"The reason for not joining them up initially was because the Government wanted to study the option of avoiding the narrow city centre streets by going underground," Mr O'Connor said.
Before it opened in 2004, the tram service faced a lot of opposition.
And Mary O'Rourke, who oversaw the plans as Minister for Public Enterprise, feared the project could stagnate.
As a result, she set up a shadow committee within her department.
"It was a shadow Luas committee. We would meet every second week and I got up-to-date information on where it was at," she said.
Had it not been for the special group, the plans could have been long-fingered, she believes.
Some of the resistance came from CIE. "Within CIE there was a bit of jealousy of it," Ms O'Rourke said.
It was viewed as "another beast" vying for customers.
The Green Party's Ciaran Cuffe said it was an "awful decision" not to join up the lines originally.
"They [the Government] came under pressure from certain businesses in the city centre," said Mr Cuffe, who is now a Dublin city councillor.
Studies have shown that average property prices are significantly higher the closer they are to a Luas stop.
A house within 500 metres of a Green Line station between Charlemont and Dundrum (Zone 2) could command a 12pc premium, the ESRI reported in a 2008 working paper.
Passengers say the frequency and speed of the Luas is a major plus but some complain about security problems on the Red Line.
Marc Jago (26) from Swords said: "It's quick and it's very handy, I can get it straight to friends houses now, before I had to take a few buses. The Red Line can be a bit dodgy to take sometimes. It's not very nice."