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Less customers in Grafton Street due to LUAS

This is interesting! I had never thought of this or considered it, but after reading an article in the Irish Times about footfall in Grafton Street, I can see how it might make sense. Dublintown, the trader organisation for the City Centre, have identified that there was a drop in footfall by approx. 5.2% and they think the LUAS is the reason.

At first I thought: NONSENSE! The reduction in customer numbers if probably a general and global trend away from retail shops and towards online shopping. The prices retail shops charge are often to hideously high in comparison to online retailers that it really is difficult to keep shopping in the bricks & mortar shops.

But then I thought about how I would use the LUAS (if I could from where I live). If you come from the southern part of Dublin on the Green LUAS line and you work on the North side of the Liffey, then before the Cross City Luas was there, you would have left the LUAS at St. Stephen’s Green and then you would have had to walk from St. Stephen’s Green through Grafton Street to cross the Liffey to get to the Northside. Now, since the Cross City Luas is there, you change Luas trains at St. Stephen’s Green and then go across to the Northside in Luas, without ever putting a foot into Grafton Street.

Not much that can be done about it, but interesting how this new LUAS connection hurts businesses directly but very unintentionally. :-O

LUAS Drivers at it again – Row over stupid stuff!

Luas Drivers, or rather their union is causing problems again and you have to read this full article as published by RTE.ie to understand how ridiculous the issue is and how unions are (not all, but most!) at total waste of space!

The row is over where 13 LUAS drivers (out of 67) have to have their lunch. Because they can’t have it where they might have parked their car and where they start their shift, they seemingly want compensation. The reason is because they can’t bring a packed lunch anymore but will now have to buy their lunch.

Transdev, their employer, nicely placated them and offers to provide Cooler Bags for lunch transport purposes instead of additional money. Ooops, that’s not what they wanted.

Read that article, it is nearly hilarious!

College Green Plaza – It will kill us!!!

As human beings, we love stability and routine and we hate change. In its effort to protect us, our brain is interpreting change and uncertainty as danger and does everything possible to bring is back to the routine again. That is one of the reasons why changing your life or aspects of your life is so challenging.

But as we should know, there is nothing more reliable than that change will occur. So it often makes more sense to focus on how change can benefit us than to focus on resisting change.

The opponents of the College Green Plaza, however, are resisting as much as possible and at times in hilarious or ridiculous ways.

The An Bord Pleanala hearings are taking place at the moment. An Bord Pleanala is the Irish planning authority and they have to agree to Dublin City’s plans for turning the College Green Plaza into a pedestrianised area and to ban all sorts of traffic and before they make a decision, they have to give all interested parties an opportunity to express their concerns.

I remember when many years ago it was suggested to introduce a “Lotto” game in Ireland. People were OUTRAGED and saw civilisation to come to a certain end if that Lotto thing ever was allowed. The prediction was that all the unemployed and the pensioners would spend EVERY single penny on Lotto tickets and widespread poverty would be an absolute certainty. It was – as we know now total and utter nonsense. And since then the National Lottery, has introduced more and more and more different types of lottery games and society still functions.

BUT, it will all change when the College Green Plaza is pedestrianised. Because that will now finally end civilisation as we know it….at least if you listen to the opponents.

Before I give you some examples of the hilarious and ridiculous arguments the NO side is bringing up, allow me to tell you that I am not the biggest fan of the College Green Plaza plans. I have a car and use it often for work but also for transporting goods and people to events and to hobby locations and Dublin has a “problem” that you will encounter whenever you drive from South Side to the North Side and vice versa. That “problem” is that darn river that limits the crossing points and causes plenty of traffic bottle necks. Sure, all this is not helped by Dublin City’s traffic rules which are in part intended to manage the limited space for traffic and in other parts there to make it as difficult as possible to experience a smooth ride in Dublin traffic so that we all hopefully leave the car at home.

My preferred North-South route was through O’Connell Street, across O’Connell Bridge and then towards College Green, passing by Grafton Street and then onwards to Merrion Square. But a few years ago we were not allowed to drive down O’Connell Street anymore. then the euphemistically named “Bus Gate”, which is was more correctly a timed street closure for cars at College Green was introduced and with the LUAS from Stephen’s Green to O’Connell Street, College Green became completely impassable for cars. So bit by bit by bit we had to get used to new routes and get used to the fact that College Green will just not be available anymore at all.

It was different for busses and taxis. They still used the College Green route, but now face a closure, which they resist for numerous reasons. The Dublin traders also don’t want change as they are worried, that change will push people out of the City Centre to do their shopping in the Blanchardstowns and Liffey Valleys etc. Understandable in parts, but imagine, Grafton Street was once a street that was used by bi-directional car traffic and despite the pedestrianisation of Grafton Street people still come to the city centre.

So what are these crazy concerns that town planners and city traders have?

Town Planner Tom Phillips who represents the retailers thinks that people will go to Dundrum etc if the key traffic artery is cut off. He has a point, but he seemingly didn’t realise that that key artery has already been essentially cut years ago and that the LUAS put the nail in the coffin. The pedestrianisation is not changing anything anymore and it is somewhat unlikely that the LUAS will be banned from College Green. He also would have most like used the same argument against the pedestrianisation of Grafton Street!! He also claims that a College Green Plaza will bring a risk of terrorism!! Where that is suddenly coming from he doesn’t explain and it sounds like total nonsense.

Representatives of car park owners in the city centre want compensation for people not parking there anymore. Dohh!!! That is the whole idea. Dublin City wants to keep cars out of the city. I suggest the car park owners knock down the car parks if nobody is using them anymore and turn them into apartments. That helps with another crisis and will probably make them a lot more money,

The Taxi drivers tried to use the “disabled people” card. They claimed that the proposed changes would affect vulnerable people who needed taxis. I think they have a point, BUT should that now give them also permission to drive up and down Grafton Street? And if not, why is that argument valid for College Green, but not for Grafton Street and Henry Street etc?

People with disabilities were concerned that proposed two way cycle tracks would cause a danger for people with disabilities and older people. Actually, cyclists in Dublin (the ones that ignore traffic lights) are a danger to everyone, not only people with disabilities and age. But I still think that that danger is slightly lower than the danger that cars do or can cause. I can’t comment on their other concern about the lack of a street kerb, something that seemingly causes a problem for guide dogs.

The Wednesday hearing is described in the Irish Times here.

But it continued! On Thursday then Parliament Street became an issue. Dublin Bus wants to be able to use Parliament Street (from Liffey to City Hall) in both directions to make up for the unavailability of College Green and it was said that 1600 busses would move through the streets per day. And now the locals there had an issue. A Dr Imelda Shanahan said that the fact that 1600 busses would need to go through Parliament Street would lead to breaches in air quality standards that will continue long into the future. Wait! The use of Parliament Street will do that? We have to assume that the same number of busses are currently going through College Green, so NOTHING will change to air quality good or bad, the same situation will just be relocated. So if there are breaches there now, these breaches will still be there….just in a different street!?

Consulting architect Des McMahon correctly described that the street would be more a bus corridor than an inner city street. So Parliament Street would just become what College Green is now. Not great, but not the biggest deal either in a city wide picture. (I understand that locals feel differently.)

The Irish Times report about the Thursday hearing is here.

In my opinion, the traffic situation caused by the LUAS is really bad, but I was in front of Trinity College last week and unless Taxis and Busses will be completely banned from there, chaos will rule in that part of the city. There are just sooo many busses going through and that flippin LUAS doesn’t help things.

Since we had to put up with the street closure at College Green for a while I started to imagine how that new plaza could be used and I found lots of great uses for it. For markets and events etc. It would create what Dublin is lacking sorely: a City Centre plaza for central events. Smithfield totally failed and you can see why and there is NO other plaza available for weekly markets, for busking and open air music. There is a serious problem though: Dublin City will probably do their best to restrict the use of this plaza sooo much that it will be empty most of the time. So I think Dublin City should stop trying to bully us into accepting the plaza and should start trying to convince us that it is a great enhancement for city life. Tell us what you plan to have there. We don’t need an empty, car free place. But we do need an central inner city event space.

Traders will be still worried, because they HATE inner city markets. They don’t see that the vibrancy and the fact that it attracts lots more people to go there will automatically have a positive effect on inner city trade. Instead they are ALWAYS worried stiff that a food stall or a product stall on a market will take business AWAY from them. Short sightedness still rules!

“New” Luas causing problems!

It is a good and a bad sign that the Public Transport system in Dublin is reaching max. capacity. Darts are packed, Busses are full and Luas trams need to be extended to deal with the amount of customers that want to use the systems. This is what the creators of Public Transport want. This is what they created all car traffic limitations for! But when it happens, then there is panic because nobody seems to have a “Next Step” plan in place. Dart platforms have been extended to the maximum. Busses are passing by bus stops without stopping and there is currently no plan to buy/use/deploy more busses on the busy routes and for the Luas the only way to deal with it is to extend the trams so much that now they don’t fit into our streets anymore. :-O

TheJournal.ie reports that the new 55m long Luas is too long for O’Connell Bridge and therefore blocks traffic when its back is sticking out. But the longer trams are needed to accommodate all customers.

What will we do when all three systems are overcrowded?

College Green: Traffic Calming vs Traders – Dublin City Mess!

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.

 
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