Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bus gate changes

Last night Dublin City Council voted 35-11 in favour of removing the bus gate on College Green in the evenings from mid-November to mid-January. The proposal was brought before the Council after the Dublin City Business Association said they had lost over 30% of trade since the measure was introduced. Of course no evidence was provided showing that this loss was due to the bus gate as opposed to say the economic climate and the high prices being charged by city centre businesses for goods and services.

On the other hand, independant research from Deloitte has shown that bus journey times have been greatly reduced in the city centre and that the numbers of cyclists in the area has been increased, in part from the bus gate and also from the Dublin Bikes scheme.

Hard facts like these matter not a whit to the City Manager and the Councillors as DCBA represent the people who pay rates. With DCC almost completely reliant on rates and commercial water for income it is no surprise that when the piper starts playing the Council gets up to dance. Since the next local elections are over 4 years away the Councillors only have to keep business onside and can stick two fingers up at the voters.

The biggest worry about this development is that DCBA will use the upsurge in business brought about by the usual Christmas trade to argue that bus gate should not be re-introduced in January and that it should be phased out altogether. The Council should have stuck firm on the issue and kept the bus gate in place to make the city more accessible and safer for pedistrians, cyclists and users of public transport and left the gouging shopkeepers to wallow in their own misery.

As a Labour supporter it is especially galling to see that only four councillors (Gallagher, Kenny, Quinn and Upton) who voted to keep the bus gate as is. After all Cllr Montegue's efforts with the Dublin Bikes scheme you'd have thought at least he would have voted to keep it as well. Shame on the rest of them for caving into DCBA at the expense of the citizen.

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