Research commissioned by the National Transport Authority predicts that major changes to the existing traffic system in and around O’Connell Bridge as well as College Green will lead to increased numbers of visitors to the city centre.
The consultant’s report warns consumer growth will be held back if the proposed traffic changes are not implemented to improve access to the city.
However, the findings have been branded as “rubbish” by Nial Ring, an independent councillor from the north inner city who claims they will benefit suburban shopping centres at the cost of businesses in the city centre.
The report acknowledges that similar proposals in other cities including London and New York had also been greeted with considerable concern by retailers but that such fears had not materialised on the actual introduction of traffic changes.
The report says: “Similar schemes to improve public transport in city centres have been undertaken in a large number of cities globally and assessments made of these suggest that they have had a pos- itive impact on the retail environment.”
It says there is an expectation the new Luas service would particularly benefit shopping on the city centre’s northside as it would bring shoppers from the existing Luas green line directly into O’Connell St for the first time.
The report claims that “doing nothing” is not an option if the city centre is to maintain recent growth trends and rising consumer demand.
While it recognises that commuters travelling by public transport, bike, or foot might spend less per journey, evidence suggested they visited the city centre more often and therefore increased overall spending levels.
However, the report says there is some evidence that traffic changes could have a temporary negative effect as they are being absorbed and understood by commuters which could lead to a short-term dip in sales.
“It is inevitable for public transport to be improved then there must be a knock-on effect on the use of cars,” states the report.
A separate study to be published shortly by the Department of Transport estimates that traffic congestion in the greater Dublin area costs €350m per annum and will rise to €2bn by 2033.