It has been said there are winners and losers in this proposal. There are some very big losers, and that will be my primary focus. People measure their journey from door to door. If they have to travel a distance from a bus stop, for example, they will drive, park their cars and clog up suburban roads and so on, which is an unintended consequence. That will happen.
I was involved in a major origin and destination survey, which was the first time CIÉ collaborated with a community. I did the groundwork in our local community in Leixlip. That was in the mid-1990s. The public transport was designed to match the results of that. There were ten major initiatives as a consequence of the survey and they have worked very well. All of them were implemented over a period of time.
The same happened in Celbridge and Maynooth. There are 50,000 people living in those three towns, and it is estimated that an additional 30,000 will live in them over the next six years. Some of that development will not happen but quite a bit of it will, and some of it is under way as we speak. It is not an insignificant sized community, which is served by rail as well as bus. There is very heavy bus use. Whether they are in the west, east or north of the city, we want to discourage the car user and make public transport more attractive. I believe the real losers in this proposal are those living on the fringes of the city or in communities that will not have the permeability some of them currently experience.
There is a huge dependence on the bus in the Dublin region. That is not the case in other cities that are served by trains, underground services and so on. It is not a normal feature and it is probably not comparable with other areas. I caution against trying to replicate that in this city because of the absence of connectivity to the various train lines.
The information sessions will be incredibly important because people require detail.
In Confey, in my area of Leixlip, the 66A bus goes into a housing estate of 700 houses. Essentially, people will now get some sort of feeder bus to Leixlip village where they will get on another bus. They will get off in Lucan and get on another bus, whereas they are used to travelling on to a City Speed into town. That is a description of something that could be very off-putting. To give another example, some of the Celbridge buses travel on the Dublin road and bypass Leixlip. They will now come into Leixlip. When they come out of the other side of Leixlip, however, because Celbridge has the priority on that junction, the buses will queue and cars will get priority. Have the junctions been considered? That is one with which I am very familiar.
I accept there are gains in the proposal but the City Speed buses coming from Maynooth, for example, bypass Lucan and Chapelizod.
Under the new proposal, however, the spine bus will now go in that direction. There is congestion in all these areas. There is no possibility of a priority bus lane or a bus lane because of the width of the road. Whatever about a bus lane, there certainly will not be room for cycle lanes. There is far too little detail. Has an origin and destination study been done? Is that done only when designing a timetable? I accept there are different versions of, or approaches to, this proposal depending on whether we are dealing with the routes, infrastructure or timetable. I accept there are different processes to be gone through. However, if I get on a City Speed bus in Leixlip, I can be at Heuston Station within 25 minutes and while the rest of the journey to the town will depend on congestion, it is quick enough after that. Under this proposal I would have to get off the bus that I got on in Leixlip, which is full leaving there, and get on another bus. Not everyone will fit onto the second bus. They would then have to wait for another bus and, as has already been said, the weather may not be particularly brilliant. I am familiar with Lucan and I do not know where bus queues could be accommodated there.
I have been describing my area, but the case would be exactly the same with the 37 bus, which comes from Carpenterstown. In a counterintuitive way, people would have to go up towards Blanchardstown to get a bus into town. In Bray, the 145 would be replaced with a 212 local bus from Ballywaltrim, which would come through the heavily congested main street in Bray. The bus would then have to do a loop to the train station and back around. To be honest, I cannot visualise why it would be attractive to get on a bus when one considers such scenarios.
Unless the periphery is got right it will generate even more traffic and people may well abandon their cars. They may well drive from parts of north Kildare to Lucan and look for somewhere to abandon their cars, rather than having to change buses twice before getting on the bus they sought in the first place. They will be the big losers and unless some of this loss is addressed, we will run into a situation where the exact reverse of what is proposed will happen, namely, that more traffic will be generated. With regard to the smaller buses that are proposed, what would the fleet be like? Would it be accessible? Are they low-floored? Have they been purchased? I seek some detail in this regard. Would they be run as part of the Dublin Bus fleet? How would that be arranged?
We have a good working relationship in north Kildare with the public transport providers because we have engaged in a way whereby we have said what our needs are and, in many ways, they have been matched. In recent years we have been told a business case has to be made for new route. A development of 1,000 new houses is being built on a non-existing road. What will be the arrangement for augmenting services? Will a business case have to be made on each occasion this happens? It is more likely to happen on the edge of the city, for example, in Fingal, north Kildare and Bray. The closer we get to the city, the greater the gain and the further we go from the city, the greater the loss. It is more attractive to use a car the further from the city one is.
This summarises some of the concerns I have. I do not believe a forensic look has been taken at some of the junctions, pinch points and areas where people would have to connect with the bus on the spine, or of the queuing conditions people would encounter when they got off one bus, which may be full. How would people be accommodated in this situation?