QBC’s show the limitations of the on-street option

14th March 2001

THE North Clondalkin QBC was launched in a blaze of publicity the week before last. This is good news for me as my house lies a hundred yards from the said corridor.

Or is it?

The Quality Bus Corridor was supposed to be the “up-front” solution to Dublin’s traffic problems.

It was proposed back in the early 90s when Dublin didn’t have a traffic problem (we just thought we had). A hundred thousand or so extra cars on the streets later the QBC is still the main player.

I don’t want to be totally negative about QBCs but I have to say that they are a flawed concept.

But before I get to what they are I want to draw attention to what they are supposed to be. To what was proposed in the Dublin Transportation Initiative (DTI).

Things like people having somewhere to wait for the bus in town. Like high quality waiting rooms.

People would be able to buy tickets before boarding.

People would be able to use tickets that would bring them anywhere on the network. Otherwise known as integrated ticketing.

Buses would be able to change upcoming signals to get priority.

Buses would be reliable and high frequency.

And finally extensive road space, aka bus lanes, would be set aside for the QBCs.

None of this has happened.

I’ll start with the last one first because a lot of people in Dublin think that far too much space has been given to bus lanes.

In fact, most of the space given over to buses wasn’t driving space but parking space. I’d be surprised if the road capacity into town has been cut by any more than 5 per cent over the last five years of QBC building.

Where space is at a premium the QBC goes without. A case in point is the North Quays. The two car lanes have been maintained all the way in. The only place bus lanes have been put is where additional space was available.

Anywhere the road reduces to two lanes the buses are stuck in the general traffic.

Not only that but there are delays as left-turning cars block buses, as cars wait in bus lanes to park and as cars drop off passengers and pick up people. And now the thousands of newly deregulated taxis can use the bus lanes as well.

This is the fundamental problem with QBCs. The space allotted to them is poor quality space and there is always pressure on that space.

The Luas will face similar pressures but will have a visibly different alignment which should ward off interference. It will have to wait at lights and suffer the pressure of Dublin’s overcrowded streets.

A tunnel, on the other hand, can be completely secured for public transport.

But they wouldn’t listen to me.

Of the other things that the QBCs did not deliver the most glaring is the need for ticket machines. It is heartbreaking to stand in the rain – in town – waiting for a bus, only to have to queue up with 30 others to buy a ticket when it arrives.

A few million quid spend on on-street ticket machines would immensely improve the lot of travellers. As far as I know there are no plans in this area.

The funny thing about the launch of North Clondalkin QBC is that it is nowhere near complete. My locality is a series of roadworks.

Also the buses have to go through Ballyfermot and Inchicore where absolutely no new facilities have been built. The last time I was up at Christchurch and Thomas Street I didn’t notice any bus flyovers there so it’s going to be the usual 3 miles an hour in the morning around there.

So why are they launching it now?

And then I remember that public transport has been a political football ever since they did away with the trams.

The three stooges who planned the Luas system on the back of a fag packet during a late night in Leinster House – Ahern, Harney & O’Rourke – must know something about this. What the hell are they playing at now?

There must be an election coming up.

As well as that…

I was right

AVID readers will remember (probably with pleasure) me whinging bitterly about having to pay a £50 fine for breaking the 40mph speed limit on the Lucan by-pass.

This was at a time when no-one, bar no-one, drove below 40mph on the Lucan by-pass.

Well now the council have changed it to 50mph.

Could it be that my influence held sway? Is this a triumph for campaigning journalism? Have I liberated the people of west Dublin from the yoke of bloody-mindedness?

Mmmmm.

All right, so it’s just a coincidence. Any chance of giving me back me fifty quid

St Patrick’s Day in July?

COULD this be the year to introduce the much ridiculed move from windy rainy March to nice tourist-friendly July?

Now that St Patrick’s Day has been effectively abandoned due to the Foot and Mouth scare are the powers-that-be not tempted to go for broke? Well, it wouldn’t work now. Paddy’s Day is a global affair. We can’t make the decision on our own now.

So just enjoy St Patrick’s Day without the parade.