Questions raised over Government’s ability to deliver Metro and Bus Connects projects

The Government’s ability to deliver €5bn worth of transport projects has been called into question following the cost overruns of the National Children’s Hospital.

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin said there was a “great deal of public anxiety” over the Government’s Metrolink and Bus Connects plans.

Last week Transport Minister Shane Ross said the southside of Metrolink from Charlemont to Sandyford may be cancelled to prevent disruption to the Luas Green line in south Dublin.

Mr Howlin told the Dail today there was a “pressing need for a grand plan” for public transport for the capital as Dublin commuters were losing an average of five hours every week sitting in traffic jams.

The Luas rail system (Cathal McNaughton/PA)

He made the comments as Dublin was ranked the third worst city in the world out of a survey of 200 cities when it came to the amount of time commuters spend in traffic.

The Wexford TD claimed there was more of a focus on the electoral prospects of Fine Gael TDs than providing a vision of a high quality public transport system.

“The proposed metro line won’t solve congestion problems for many Dubliners which is where BusConnects comes in to rethink the entire bus system,” he said.

“But Minister for Transport, Minister Ross, seems to have distanced himself from Bus Connects and handed over power to unelected officials.

“Those leading the public consultations seem to be involved in box ticking without, from many reports I’m getting, real concern of the anxieties of people.”

The Taoiseach said plans were afoot to improve and reduce commuter times for people who commute to work in the Dublin area.

Leo Varadkar cited the National Transport Authority’s Greater Dublin Transport Plan and the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 plans.

We're not a dictatorship, this isn't the Soviet Union...we don't just run rough shod over people and communities

He said the Government needed to get on with those plans in particularly Project 2040 as part of the solution to Dublin’s congestion was other urban centres growing.

He said public consultations were under way for both projects and that the concerns of residents should not be dismissed.

“We have to and it is right to engage with the public on design to get it right,” Mr Varadkar said.

He added: “We shouldn’t dismiss genuine concerns from communities, whether its Na Fianna GAA club, whether it’s people in Ranelagh or whether its people out in Terenure.

“We’re not a dictatorship, this isn’t the Soviet Union…we don’t just run rough shod over people and communities.”

Mr Howlin replied: “It’s lovely you’re interested and you’re not a Soviet dictatorship.

“What does that mean Taoiseach? Are we going to have a decent plan?”

The Taoiseach said Bus Connects was a two billion euro investment in buses and cycling facilities, but that at this stage it was not possible to cost the Metro project.

Once the National Transport Authority comes back with revised plans for the Metrolink then the project will be put out to tender for a realistic final cost.

“It’s only when you go out to tender you know the final cost,” he said.

- Press Association

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