What a mess! With the new Luas passing Trinity College at College Green and needing traffic priority, the buses and taxis that are also still allowed to use the street are causing some problems, so Dublin City Management lead by the Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan would love to close down College Green immediately even before a decision has been made about the new College Green Plaza and the planned 10mio regeneration of the area.
The Planning Authority “An Bord Pleanala” has to decide on projects like that and Dublin City Council applied in May of last year for permission to build this traffic-free plaza and ban ALL traffic (including buses and hopefully taxis) from access to Dame Street. An Bord Pleanala was meant to decide in November, but in August the planning authority ordered a “comprehensive assessment” after they must have received submissions from organisations that had concerns (e.g. Dublin Bus, the National Transport Authority and traders in Dublin.
Dublin City submitted their assessment in October, but then Bord Pleanala ordered that the public should get full visibility of the results and should be allowed to make further submissions. This public hearing was planned for next week. However on Thursday An Bord Pleanala notified the parties that were meant to be involved in that hearing that it will now NOT go ahead. It seems that the organisation that is tasked with making sure that people stick to (planning) rules made a mistake with rules about consultation periods and it is now unclear when the hearing will happen and when An Bord Pleanala will make a decision.
Originally Dublin City Council wanted to have the new plaza in place by the time the LUAS line opens. It is questionable if that was achievable, but the LUAS is running and we are in a huge mess regarding the College Green Plaza plans.
Owen Keegan, who seems to hate cars, now wants to ban buses and taxis from College Green even before a decision about the College Green Plaza is made and he gets strong support from Green Party Councillor Ciaran Cuffe who recently fought hard against busking in Temple Bar and who always seemed to have favoured bikes over cars.
So does it make sense what they are fighting for? The answer is YES and NO. Private cars are already banned from College Green, so the question is if buses and taxis should also be banned and I would say NO to the ban of buses and YES to the ban of taxis. Taxis are nothing else but private individual transport with the difference that they are temporarily hired instead of owned by the passenger and they should be treated that way. Buses on the other hand are public transport vehicles in the same way as the LUAS and bus drivers also don’t just suddenly stop in the middle of the street as taxis do, so I think there is nothing wrong with buses sharing the LUAS lane, but get taxis out!
However, there is another question: It could happen that the the College Green Plaza will never be realised if An Bord Pleanala decides against it, so should the Dublin City traffic decision not wait for the An Bord Pleanala decision?
It all looks like a BIG mess! …it is so big that I could easily have gotten something wrong in my description above, but I hope not!
oThe Irish Times wrote about it here.