Varadkar: Bus Connects and Dublin Metro should not be abandoned

A transport union has called for the multi-billion euro Dublin Metro and Bus Connects plans to be shelved.
Varadkar: Bus Connects and Dublin Metro should not be abandoned

The Taoiseach says he does not think major transport projects will have to be scrapped because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A transport union has called for the multi-billion euro Dublin Metro and Bus Connects plans to be shelved.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) thinks lower cost projects should be the priority instead.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar does not believe they should be abandoned.

"I do think we are going to have to review our transport infrastructure plans in light of what we know about this pandemic and this virus.

"I think we are certainly going to need more investment in cycling, more investment in pedestrianisation.

"We know they are among the lowest risk in terms of transmitting infection.

"But I definitely wouldn't go as far as saying at this stage that we would cancel projects such as Metro or Bus Connects."

Transport union calls for Bus Connects project to be scrapped

The general secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers Union (NBRU) Dermot O’Leary has said that a letter sent by the union to the political parties was an attempt to stimulate a public debate on the future of transport.

Mr O’Leary told Newstalk Breakfast that he wanted to see an “open and transparent debate” as decisions on future transport plans should not be made “by a small cabal.”

“The central point for me is that there needs to be an open and transparent debate.

"People who are interested or want to use transport or need to use transport should be factored into that debate.

“The decision on future transport plans shouldn't be made by a small cabal. The unfortunate part is that no politician will stick their neck out and say ‘scrap that’, it's not a popular thing to say.”

Mr O’Leary said that the union has been following the data on transport “for generations at this stage, people will know that Metro North, Metro Link, or whatever you're having yourself has been on the go for the last 15 years at this stage, at least.

“We now have the situation where I feel, personally, that politicians of all parties and none come out and promise what I call ‘high falutin’ rail projects on the basis that they'll get at least three elections, knocking on doors saying ‘we're about the build a railway line’.

"But the fact of the matter is - and it's a serious issue here, I think Covid has shown what can happen if we decongest our cities, we had to do it here because of Covid, but it has illustrated quite clearly that there might be a better or another way.

“All we're trying to do here is generate a debate. The decisions on transport provision are made by a small number of people at this stage and they're not being tested.”

The union leader said that despite the NBRU’s earlier criticism of the Bus Connects plan, they came on board through the last phase and “we're very supportive of it.”

“The point we're making here though is that Bus Connects was designed to compete with traffic on our streets, there was a notion that people's front gardens would be bulldozed.

“Again Covid has shown that if we take the car out of city you may not need to do that.

However, the part of Bus Connects that we would say should be kept - the orbital routes, could be connected - we're calling for bus rapid transit (BRT), possibly 150 cities worldwide have this system, which for want of a better word is a Luas on wheels, where dedicated road space is given over to artic-bedded buses.

“We've suggested in our letter to the political leaders that a Dart spur could be built from Clongriffin to the airport - that was mentioned some time back. That would relieve some of the traffic.

We're looking at dedicated bus ways, we're looking at park and ride facilities adjacent at all points into the city to take the car out of the city.

"Owen Keegan has a vision for College Green, I'm not too sure that we totally agree with what he's proposing, but again that's something that could be worked on.

“If that money was ever found - around €5billion for Metro - we're saying quite clearly to the party leaders that there's many projects that could be financed through that type of money across the country not just in Dublin.

“It would help disperse the population.”

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