Thursday, 18 October 2007
Seanad Eireann Debate
Senator Maria Corrigan: I wish to raise the matter of a feasibility study of a Luas line for the Rathfarnham area, a sizeable suburb that has seen considerable growth in recent years. The surrounding areas of Knocklyon, Woodstown and Scholarstown Road have undergone considerable development, resulting in unprecedented travel demands and constant traffic congestion. Dublin Bus has attempted to cope with increased demand by expanding some of its services. Unfortunately, Rathfarnham and surrounding areas have older, rural type roads. As a consequence, it does not appear possible to provide facilities such as quality bus corridors. Bus services can take up to two hours to travel the relatively short distance from Rathfarnham to town. Dublin Bus may not be in a position to give the best response to traffic congestion.
Everyone was delighted when the Minister announced he would undertake a feasibility study of the provision of a Luas line to Rathfarnham and surrounding areas. I would appreciate an update on the matter. The Minister should consider the urgent need to move as quickly as possible to provide the Luas transport system which would provide a more efficient and effective form of public transport and decrease the need for people to use cars. The area would also become more accessible for residents.
The programme for Government recognises the importance of public transport investment to ensure continued economic growth and sustainable development. In this context, we have committed to improve bus and rail services and substantially improve and expand Luas services in Dublin. The Government investment framework, Transport 21, is designed to give Ireland a world-class transport infrastructure. Our goal with Transport 21 is to make sure Ireland is successful, not just today but in the years ahead. Transport 21 provides a very large funding commitment for the delivery of an extensive rail-based public transport network in the greater Dublin area in the period up to 2015. This network is based on the Dublin Transportation Office strategy, A Platform for Change, which includes the provision of seven new Luas lines and two metro services, metro north and metro west.
Transport 21 includes funding for feasibility studies of those elements of the strategy A Platform for Change not included in Transport 21. These include the proposed Luas line from the city centre to Dundrum via Rathfarnham and Terenure. I understand the RPA commenced work on examining the feasibility of a Luas line to Rathfarnham in April this year. The agency has been progressing the study since that date and is confident that it will be in a position to make an initial view on the feasibility of a Rathfarnham Luas line available to my Department by the end of the year.
Dublin’s first two Luas lines have proved a major success since the first full year of operations in 2005 when it carried more than 22 million passengers. This year the forecast is for over 28 million passengers. Park and ride sites have also been provided along both Luas lines, encouraging car drivers from beyond the immediate catchment area to transfer to Luas, removing considerable volumes of car journeys from the road network each year.
With regard to the wider public transport service in the Rathfarnham area, a programme of quality bus corridor enhancements, developed by the quality bus network project office, is under way. Enhancement of the Rathfarnham quality bus corridor is set out in the office’s work programme for 2008. This will involve detailed design work and public consultation.
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