Sunday, 16 June 2019

Submission by TRA to the NTA re BusConnects

The following is the text of the submission made by the Terenure Residents' Association to the National Transport Authority regarding the BusConnects proposals on 25 April 2019:

Submission in relation to BusConnects Core Bus Corridor Proposals
Corridors 10 and 12

Terenure Residents Association represents residents living in the area of Terenure, south, east and southwest of Terenure Cross.  This represents about 800 households.  It includes Templeogue Road, Rathfarnham Road, Terenure Road East.  We are established for over 30 years.

The proposals for Bus Corridors 10 and 12 seriously affect our members on Rathfarnham Road, Terenure Road East and Templeogue Road.  All of our members would be affected by the consequent disruption to general motor traffic caused by proposed diversions.  This submission will relate to the plan as it affects the area and households we represent.  We are aware that there are some ad hoc groups which will also be making submissions for areas covered by these bus corridors.

General Reaction to Plan
            TRA held a general meeting on Tuesday 16th April.  While there is agreement that there is a pressing need to improve public transport commuting times the BusConnects proposals, as they affect the area we represent, are TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE to the members of our Association.  The damage that would be caused to the local environment and ambience of Terenure is completely out of proportion to the benefits (if any) gained.

Loss of Amenity
            There is strong opposition to the concept of four lane highways through well-established residential areas.  Apart from the loss of amenity this would cause, it would destroy the village life that the community thrives on.  Terenure is a community, not a corridor.  There would be serious loss in value of properties that border on the highways.   Loss of gardens on Rathfarnham Road and Terenure Road East is of significant concern. Nobody agrees that any of this is worthwhile and the likely cost of reinstating old cut stone walls and cast iron railings will make the project horrendously expensive for very little benefit   Many of the properties involved are protected structures.  Another potential cost is compensation paid to residents who will be assessing the loss in the value of their properties.  On Rathfarnham Road many houses are at a level well above the road and shortening of gardens will leave unacceptable gradients on driveways.  Shortening of driveways will also cause motorists to have to back out of their driveways on to a very busy road – dangerous (major health and safety risk to the public)
It should be noted that much of Terenure is zoned Z2 – Residential Neighbourhood Designated Area
The proposed plan calls for the removal of a very large number of mature trees.  This is unacceptable.  Loss of parking spaces at the Terenure end of Rathfarnham Road will adversely affect the village.
There is a general feeling that there is very little delay at present to traffic passing through the area except for a few hours a day at peak times so the concept of having the full proposal in force for 24 hours a day is ridiculous and unnecessary.

Diversionary Routes
Implementing the plan would result in no general traffic entering Terenure from Templeogue Road or going towards the city via Rathmines Road or Kimmage Road Lower.  That means that two out of three direct routes for city bound traffic from a large catchment area have gone and traffic will be diverted on to unsuitable and sometimes already overcrowded, residential side roads.  Examples are Bushy Park Road, Orwell Park  and Castlewood Avenue.  The BusConnects Plan assumes that commuters will transfer to travelling by bus and that there will be much reduced numbers of cars.  Many commuters do not work in the city or along the bus corridors and will continue to use their cars.  There are many other reasons why people have to use their cars.  Even now there is considerable road congestion in the Dundrum and Churchtown areas in spite of the large numbers who use the excellent Luas service.  If any of the scheme is to be implemented, the impact on the roads in the diversionary routes will need to be comprehensively assessed.

CBC 10 Templeogue Road.
            The proposal for general traffic on Templeogue Road is one way outbound only from Terenure Place to Fergus Road.   Local traffic only would be allowed down Templeogue Road beyond Springfield Avenue.  General inbound traffic would be diverted via Springfield Avenue and Dodder View Road.
1.     Difficulty in preventing non local traffic beyond Springfield Avenue and consequent rat running in Rathdown.  There are so many genuine designations of local traffic that it would be impossible to enforce the restriction, e,g, patrons of Bushy Park and, school runs  and traffic to and from Fortfield Road.
2.     It will be impossible to implement the proposal because of the enormous problem that the diverted traffic will cause, particularly at Rathfarnham Bridge and on Rathfarnham Road.  This would be totally unacceptable because of the congestion caused and impact on residents.

CBC 12 Rathfarnham Road and Terenure Road East
            The proposed land take of gardens on these roads is so drastic that it should not be implemented as proposed.  A very large part of the land take is for cycle lanes.  Provision of these does not justify the damage to ambience and environment that would be caused.  It would be much more satisfactory to divert cycles on to quiet parallel roads where feasible, or to reduce speed limits to 30km/hr. and allow cycles to use the bus lanes

Suggested Immediate Improvements.
As mentioned earlier, TRA agrees that there is a pressing need to improve public transport commuting tines in Terenure.  Detailed below are suggested changes that should be implemented, with immediate effect, to improve these times.
1.     Introduce bus priority at traffic lights with minimum adjustment to present arrangements for bus lanes etc.  Ensure that bus priority only operates when buses are present
2.     Reduce speed limits in appropriate areas to allow cycles to use bus lanes in relative safety.
3.     Vastly improve the frequency of buses at peak times.  We get many complaints of all inbound buses being full when they reach Terenure at peak times in the morning.  This is causing potential users to travel by car.  It has been noted that the frequency of buses to Terenure proposed in the Jarret Walker report is actually less than that it is at present.  The credibility of the BusConnects plan is thus very much diminished in this area.
4.     Reduce dwell time for buses at stops by the following means.
a.      All fares to be cashless and generally low to attract bus users.  Additional subsidies may be required.
b.     Introduce a flat fare system to avoid having to give Leap cards to the driver.
c.      Introduce a system to swipe bank debit cards.
d.     Compared with other cities the response time of the swipe pads on Dublin buses seems very slow and sometimes uncertain. This is a cause of long dwell times.  The system needs to be optimized.
e.      Reduce congestion and consequent delay around the door of the bus while people swipe cards by introducing extra pad locations. 
f.      Consider swipe pads at bus stops
g.     Make it mandatory to exit the bus through the centre door.  At present most people exit through the front door, causing delays, because they don’t know whether the centre door will be opened.
h.     Introduce additional inspection to ensure cards are swiped as the driver will lose an element of supervision.

TRA strongly recommends that the above suggestions are trialed.  If the results are good, it may not be necessary to do anything else to accommodate buses.

In the longer term the TRA AGM agreed that the only satisfactory way to achieve reasonable and predictable commuting times is to work towards an underground Metro solution.  With the cancellation of the Charlemont Bridge to Sandyford proposal to convert the Luas to Metro an opportunity exists to bring such a system to the Terenure area.  Such a solution would be much more satisfactory than the BusConnects plan and would receive full support from TRA members.

                                                                                    25th April 2019