An ambitious plan for the country’s most congested region aims to double the number of passengers using public transport and bicycles in the next 20 years.
Much of the increase will be due to population and job growth, however, so the true impact of the €10.3bn plan in terms of people switching from their cars to bus and rail will be far less dramatic.
Key elements of the transport strategy for the Greater Dublin Area, which includes Dublin city and county along with counties Meath, Kildare and Wicklow, were already approved by the Government late last year.
They include the Metro North project which will provide a light rail service from the city centre to Dublin Airport, and the reopening of the old Phoenix Park Tunnel to link the Cork/Kildare rail line to the city centre.
Features approved yesterday include the extension of the Luas and Dart, and a reorganisation of bus routes and creation of new bus lanes. The bicycle lane network is to be increased to almost 3,000km, and park and ride facilities are also to be improved where road and rail meet close to the M50.
Junction upgrades, road widening and new lanes for the busiest stretches of the M50, N7/M7, N4, N2/M2, and N3, are also on the cards.
The strategy envisages bus and light rail use growing from 184,000 passengers daily to 347,000 by 2035 for all trips and from 73,400 to 166,100 specifically for employees commuting to work.
Because of an expected 28.5% increase in journey numbers in the region, however, the actual proportion of people opting for public transport over cars for all trips is only expected to rise from 15% to 23% while the proportion walking or cycling is expected to rise from 16% to 20%.
While much of the strategy’s emphasis is on getting people out of their cars, the actual number of car journeys is also expected to increase slightly from 702,300 trips daily to 771,300 in 2035, although the proportion using cars in the morning rush hour is expected to fall from 60% to 51%.
Where the strategy does promise big changes is in shorter travel times with a much greater area expected to fall within one hour’s reach of the city centre and virtually no journey taking longer than 90 minutes.
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