Tendered bus routes must provide same or improved level of service to D15 commuters

Today the National Transport Authority announced that the private bus company Go-Ahead has won the tender to operate a number of bus routes which used to be operated by Dublin Bus. It is now vital that both the NTA and the Government ensures that there is no deterioration of the standard of services on the tendered routes. The real test of this tendering process is whether services for commuters actually improve on these routes.

Around a third of the routes that will be operated by Go-Ahead pass through the Dublin 15 area (17a, 76a, 220, 236, 238, 239, 270). While most of the journeys are orbital, rather than going directly into the city centre, they provide a vital link between the outer suburbs and key locations such as the Blanchardstown Town Centre, Dublin City University, Beaumount Hospital and Connolly Hospital. They are especially important for students and elderly people.

As a daily user of the 17a, I’ll be watching closely to ensure there is no decrease in the frequency or reliability of the service provided to commuters. If this does happen, the NTA must intervene immediately.

Royal Canal Greenway extension must also protect natural environment

'Deep Sinking' section of Royal Canal between Castleknock and Coolmine train stations

‘Deep Sinking’ section of Royal Canal between Castleknock and Coolmine train stations

Today, I made a submission to the public consultation process on the development of a new Greenways Strategy, which was undertaken by the Department of Transport. In it, I highlighted that the protection of the natural environment has to be a key consideration in any extension of the Royal Canal Greenway from the 12th Lock to the Kildare County Council border.

Getting the greenway extended along the Royal Canal is something I have been working on consistently. While everyone accepts that the ‘Deep Sinking’ section between Castleknock and Coolmine train stations is currently extremely unsafe for walkers and cyclists, it is also an incredibly scenic area. Bringing a greenway through this section will involve change. But it is vital that any new development is balanced with maintaining the natural heritage of this section. A ‘chop and pave’ approach here would devastate a beautiful area”.

Separately, the period for tenders to draw up a design for the 12th Lock to the Kildare border has closed, and Fingal will now examine the applications and award the tender early in the autumn. The successful consultant will draw up a design for what this section of the greenway will look like and what route it will take. This will then go out to public consultation.

Balancing the next section of the Royal Canal greenway with the scenic importance of the area will be complex and may require some innovative solutions. But it is vital that this is done. The key selling points of greenways are their natural beauty. We must be careful that we do not sacrifice this in the process of opening up the Deep Sinking section.

Council supports my motion to use CCTV to tackle illegal dumping

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I’m delighted that Fingal has confirmed that it has started using mobile CCTV units as part of the fight against illegal dumping. This was confirmed by Council management in response to a motion of mine that was passed at the full Council meeting last week. You can see the discussion at the Council meeting here.

The Council has confirmed that up to €30,000 has been spent on a service to install and monitor mobile CCTV units across Fingal. These have already been deployed at one particular dumping blackspot in the Dublin 15 area and will be used again.

Some of the money for this is coming from central Government initiatives to prevent dumping. Obviously there is a major financial cost for Fingal in having to clean up dumping, which means there are fewer resources for other services. But there’s also a significant social cost, in that sustained dumping can really undermine the fabric of a community.

I appreciate the support I received from other councillors for my motion. During the course of the debate, particular dumping spots in Dublin 15 such as the Powerstown Road and the Liffey Valley were highlighted.

I will be reviewing the success of these mobile CCTV units in conjunction with Council staff.

Good luck to Leo in his new job

I want to congratulate Leo Varadkar on his election as Taoiseach. It is a huge responsibly, but having known Leo for many years as a constituency rival in Dublin West, I know he is well capable of the job. I wish him, his partner and his family the very best today.

Leo has frequently aired views that are far to the right of most Irish voters. I’d remind him that he is now a Taoiseach for the whole country, not just for Fine Gael.  If he does seek to impose a right wing agenda on the country, I and the Green Party will vigorously oppose him.

Possible Road through St Catherine’s Park

St. Catherine's Park is a key resource within the Liffey Valley and must be protected

St. Catherine’s Park is a key resource within the Liffey Valley and must be protected

In recent weeks, I have been contacted by a significant number of people concerned about a possible road being built through a section of St. Catherine’s Park. There is an ‘indicative’ road marked through the Kildare County Council section of the park on the current Fingal Development plan. I discussed this with the Fingal County Council planners and they made it clear that an ‘indicative road’ on a development plan map merely showed the general direction that a road will travel, rather than any specific route.

Despite that assurance, I can fully understand why local residents would be concerned. As such, I had put down a motion the situation in St. Catherine’s Park which was debated at a Council meeting on the 1st June. A number of other councillors had also put down motions.

You can see a link to the video of these discussions here (there’s a small problem with the microphone’s at the start of the video, but it gets resolved):

As you can see, there is strong opposition from all local councillors to any attempt to build a road through any section of St. Catherine’s Park. We are working together to see what options are available to us to change the current development plan.

I will absolutely oppose any attempt to construct a road through St. Catherine’s Park and I know my Green Party colleague on Fingal will support me in this.

Review of Dublin 15 bus routes must create more direct routes to city centre and facilitate local communities

Later this week I’ll be attending a seminar being organised by the National Transport Authority on the review of routes in the Dublin 15 area. This is part of the major Busconnects scheme to improve public transport across the city.

It is essential that the review of bus routes that the National Transport Authority is undertaking ensures that there are more direct routes from those communities at the very edge of Dublin, straight into the city centre. While the 37, 38 and 39 routes all now have regular services, it still takes an extremely long time to get from places like, Ongar, Tyrrelstown or Carpenterstown to the city centre, mainly because the buses have to travel such long routes and make so many stops. There needs to be more services which just serve these estates on the edge of the city and then go directly into town. This would be far more attractive for commuters.

Another regular complaint I get from people living in Blanchardstown is how difficult it is to get to Castleknock or the Blanchardstown Town Centre during the day. A number of years ago, the frequency of services passing through Blanchardstown village and the Clonsilla Road was significantly reduced. This has limited the options for people, particularly older persons, who are willing to use the bus if there is a consistent services. I hope we can do something to reverse this in the review.

This review of local bus services, combined with the proposed introduction of a Bus Rapid Transit route from Blanchardstown Centre to UCD, create the opportunity to radically enhance bus services in Dublin 15. I’m looking forward to working with the National Transport Authority to improve the commuter experience.

If you have any suggestions they would like me to feed into the process, please get in touch.

Bad news for commuters as NTA says no extra peak-time services on Maynooth line

Pic - NTA Response on Maynooth capacity

I recently asked Eamon Ryan TD to put a question to the Minister for Transport about increasing capacity on the Maynooth line at peak times. The question was responded to by the National Transport Authority (NTA).

The NTA response will be a big concern to commuters in stations like Clonsilla, Coolmine and Castleknock as it says that peak services cannot be increased further. Those of use using these services know that trains have become increasingly packed in the mornings and the addition of new commuters through the significant housebuilding going on in Carpenterstown and at Hansfield is only going to add more pressure.

In the letter, the National Transport authority stated, “… all available rolling stock is fully utilised at peak times and therefore at present it would not be possible to add any additional peak time services on the Maynooth or M3 Parkway lines. The current level of services is fully utilising existing track and signalling capacity on the routes and the implementation of additional signalling coupled with the removal of level crossings would be required for further services at this times”.

While I welcome the commitment made by the NTA for increased off-peak services, a failure to carry more people at peak times is going to severely limit Dublin 15’s ability to develop further. A key project must be the upgrading of the Maynooth line to DART standard. While this is planned for in the Transport Strategy for the Dublin Area, that document stretches up to 2035, which is far too long away.

The Census 2016 figures reveals that three of the top-ten fastest growing areas in the entire country are in Dublin 15. We must provide real transport options for people who want to live and work here.

A survey is currently been undertaken to get commuter’s views about what type of bus service we would like to see in our city. It is worth while filling it out here.

Royal Canal Clean Up – Thanks for your help

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Last week, we undertook a clean-up along the Royal Canal between Castleknock Train Station and Ashtown, as part of the Dublin Canals Action Day.

Thanks to everyone who came and assisted over the afternoon. We got about 15 bags of rubbish collected, which Fingal County Council removed.

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