MIONTUAIRISC NA FIANAISE
(Minutes of Evidence)
Dé Céadaoin, 23 Bealtaine, 1979
Wednesday, 23 May, 1979
CÓRAS IOMPAIR ÉIREANN
Alderman Mrs. Carmencita Hederman, Councillor Paddy Dunne, Councillor Ray Fay, Councillor Mrs. Eileen Lemass. T.D., Mr. John Prendergast, Principal Officer (Engineering Department), Mr. Michael McEntee, Chief Engineer (Roads) and Mr. Michael Sullivan, Senior Engineer (Traffic Department) of Dublin Corporation called and examined.
Chairman.—As the witnesses know, we have had meetings with representatives of CIE and in the course of the meetings one of the subjects that came up again and again was the question of traffic in Dublin —on the one hand, the difficulties experienced by CIE in regard to traffic and the road layout generally and, on the other, the question of complaints by passengers not having an adequate transport service. So it seemed that the views of the Dublin Corporation would be very useful. We would like to ask the corporation some questions and give them an opportunity of commenting on the services provided by CIE in Dublin city.
Mr. Prendergast.—We got the Chairman’s letter some time ago and City Hall have now sent the Committee some material and written reports.
Chairman.—That is right.
Mr. Prendergast.—Our General Purposes Committee considered the letter and decided that in the event of the Joint Committee wanting further information, the best procedure would be for each of the different political groups in the city council to appoint a nominee to give the group’s views on the various subjects. Deputy Mrs. Lemass will represent Fianna Fáil, Mrs. Hederman, the community groups, Councillor Fay, Fine Gael, and Councillor Dunne, Labour. Mr. McEntee, Mr. Sullivan and I are back-up officials.
194. Deputy L. Lawlor.—In relation to the decision of 5 March,* we were wondering about the background and what planning had gone into adopting the resolution that the corporation might take over the running of the city bus services; also what the actual cost would be and when the corporation would envisage implementing that decision.
Mr. Prendergast.—From time to time, usually when there is an interruption in the bus services, we get motions from the members to do something about CIE.
195. Senator Cooney.—Everyone can do CIE’s job except themselves?
Mr. Prendergast.—I suppose that is the case. In 1976, a special committee of the city council considered the setting up of a transportation authority for the city of Dublin, and I will make a copy of their report available to this Committee. This envisaged, not the city council taking over the bus services, but an independent statutory authority taking over large areas of responsibility of CIE. The motion of 5th March 1979 was made by a council member and the corporation adopted it. I do not know if any consideration was given to this question by the member but officials did no examination of it. We had a reply from the Department of Tourism and Transport which did not support the proposal, pointing out that a commission had been set up by the Minister for Tourism and Transport to consider this very question; that the question of urban passenger transport in Dublin was at present being considered as a matter of priority by the Transport Consultative Commission established by the Minister in September 1978; that among the matters which the commission will be considering in this regard is the question of what co-ordination arrangements may be desirable in relation to passenger transportation in the Dublin area; and that in the circumstances the Minister did not see that any useful purpose would be served by initiating action at that stage on the matters proposed by the city council’s resolution.
196. Senator Cooney.—Is there any regular system of liaison or consultation with CIE about the city bus services?
Mr. Sullivan.—Once a month a traffic study group meeting is held in the traffic department and at that meeting representatives from the Department of the Environment, the Garda, CIE and officials of the Dublin Corporation meet. That is the only forum in which we meet.
197. Senator Cooney.—They meet monthly?
Mr. Sullivan.—Yes. There is also a technical traffic unit which consists of one engineer from the corporation and one engineer from CIE continuously studying bus priority schemes in Dublin. This unit was set up in June 1978 and they have studied a number of areas in Dublin where bus priority may be introduced. One of the schemes they have put forward is a counter-flow bus lane in Parliament Street. We hope it will be introduced on 11 September. Pearse Street has been investigated but does not seem to offer benefits. Morehampton Road has also been investigated. We are investigating the possibility of creating a shortcut between D’Olier Street and Westmoreland Street. This is under active consideration. At the suggestion of an official of the Department of the Environment we are investigating bus priority in the Fairview area. Basically these are the two areas in which we meet CIE.
198. Senator Cooney.—Do the corporation consider that these meetings represent a satisfactory forum for tackling traffic problems in the city in so far as they affect CIE?
Mr. Sullivan.—There are two engineers in the technical traffic unit who are devoted to this full time. The unit was set up at our suggestion. Before that a suggestion would be treated in isolation. Now the whole city is considered in the broadest possible way. When bus priority schemes are suggested, the chief consideration is the overall community benefit. We take into account the benefits to bus passengers and possible disadvantages to other road users. The results are coming slowly but that is due to the road network system in Dublin. There is not an obvious means whereby bus priority schemes could be introduced; if there were, such schemes would have been introduced long ago. The road network is very narrow and is inherited from the pre-motor era. On one side there is the port and the other the Phoenix Park. All traffic travelling from north to south or vice versa is confined to nine city bridges.
199. Senator Cooney.—These two bodies are producing ad hoc temporary solutions pending a major solution. When these recommendations are made, to whom do they go for implementation?
Mr. Sullivan.—The two engineers in the technical traffic unit investigate them. A steering committee comprising representatives from the corporation, the Department of the Environment, the gardaí and CIE meet once a month and consider the recommendations of the technical traffic unit. A traffic study group, which include councillors, then consider the recommendations and there is consultation with the council. If they agree, the gardaí or the traffic authority send a request for statutory implementation.
200. Senator Cooney.—Might implementation take 12 months from the time the recommendation is made?
Mr. Sullivan.—No. At the moment we are in the initial stages of bus lanes in Dublin, and by-laws and traffic regulations have to be amended. The study can be slow but the rest can be accomplished in about two months.
201. Chairman.—Does it seem that there will be quite a few bus lanes of this kind?
Mr. Sullivan.—Yes. I am optimistic.
Mrs. Hederman.—To a certain extent it is a question of a change of attitude on the part of public representatives and possibly, officials as to the extent to which they are prepared to give priority to buses and public transport generally. The trend has changed quite considerably during the years I have been on the council. My impression is that public representatives are now more inclined to have these recommendations implemented and appreciate that public transport, particularly buses, should be able to manoeuvre in the city.
I also feel very strongly about the implementation of traffic regulations. This is one of the most serious problems and it is simply not being dealt with. Mr. McEntee produced a comprehensive report which I should like to see being submitted because it lays down in the clearest possible terms what we have been hearing during the past few years, which is that there is total lack of enforcement of the parking regulations. Members probably know from their own experience what the situation is but the figures are staggering.
Senator Cooney.—We do not break the laws.
Mrs. Hederman.—But so many other people break the law in this respect.
202. Deputy Kenneally.—What was the reason for disbanding the traffic wardens?
Mrs. Hederman.—The reason, as I understand it, was that the traffic wardens did not have sufficient powers to do the job properly. There was a type of dual responsibility, with the traffic wardens having the power merely to put tickets on cars.
Mr. Sullivan.—On stationary vehicles only.
Mrs. Hederman.—They could not even tell a motorist to move on, for instance. This was the reason the councillors decided, albeit reluctantly, that in the present situation we would be better off handing the responsibility back to the Garda. That is a kind of side aspect of what we are talking of, but I should like to stress the lack of enforcement of the laws, the illegal parking at meters, for instance, which represented a figure of 68 per cent. Dr. St. J. Devlin during an interview on radio made that point and said there are situations in which the buses cannot move through the streets because of illegal parking of cars. If we could tackle that problem as an immediate one it would be not only beneficial for the buses and for users of the buses but also for the motorist.
203. Senator Cooney.—There is a vicious circle in that there are too many cars and these prevent the buses running efficiently. Therefore, the people do not wish to use the buses and use their cars instead, thereby making for a continuation of the vicious circle. I expect that the ultimate breakout will be by way of a massive road network that will accommodate both public and private transport. Obviously, that is something that is very much in the future. The immediate problem is to try to reduce the number of cars by providing an efficient bus system. Have the corporation any views on drastic measures that might be taken to ensure efficient running of the buses? For instance, have they considered the banning of cars in any part of the city?
Mrs. Hederman.—I would be in favour of that, but I am one of those who would come down very much on the side of public transport—on a good bus service.
Mr. Prendergast.—To answer the question, the corporation have never considered the course the Senator has mentioned. The corporation’s strategy is based on the Dublin Transportation Study undertaken in 1971. That was a balanced programme for the development of an efficient transport system involving road building. development of public transport, the limitation of parking, particularly within the centre city area. For a variety of reasons very little progress has been made on that, principally because of financial considerations. Again, I doubt if there was the political will up to now to carry out the type of road building that was necessary. Urban motorways are a very emotive subject.
204. Senator Cooney.—I take the point that a massive road programme is possibly long-term, but I am interested in hearing whether there is any short-term drastic solution in mind which would enable Dublin traffic to be unclogged and which would allow for a bus service that would be efficient and, hopefully, attractive to the public.
Mr. Fay.—The congestion is not being caused by cars alone. As Alderman Hederman has said, enforcement of the regulations is all important; but there are many other issues involved. many of which we in the corporation tried to tackle but found that we did not have the necessary powers to do so. For instance, we have not sufficient towing vehicles and there is no vehicle to take away lorries. Another problem is that there is nowhere to put towed-away vehicles. The Garda do not have a pound either. Another problem is that of loading and unloading at peak hours. In addition one sees heavy agricultural and industrial type vehicles moving through the city at peak hours. One sees bulldozers and tractors on the main streets. Today I noticed the whole road blocked during the operation of the taking down of the bells at Christ Church Cathedral. The Garda would appear not to be consulted about such operations. Powers are required to deal with all these problems. I am sure solutions could be found without resorting to drastic steps.
205. Senator Cooney.—Therefore, if at least the regulations were enforced the situation would be alleviated to the extent that the traffic might flow freely?
Mr. Fay.—I am convinced of that. I would be in favour of an extension of bus lanes. One of the principal reasons given for the abolition of the trams was that they were in a certain position from which they could not be moved. If we were to do the same in respect of bus lanes we would be back to where we started. But it would be ludicrous to suggest bus lanes as part of the existing road system because we do not have sufficient road space at present. Also there is the point that in off-peak hours those bus lanes would not be used though they might be utilised to the extent of about 50 per cent during peak hours.
206. Senator Cooney.—Another reason suggested for the insufficiency of bus space is that the road space is being taken up by parked cars and that the corporation have not done anything in regard to providing massive car parks.
Mr. Fay.—We have a big car park in Townsend Street but it is only used to the extent of half its capacity most of the time.
207. Senator Cooney.—In other words, there is adequate car parking space but it is not being availed of?
Mr. Fay.—That is the position now.
208. Deputy L. Lawlor.—What is the position regarding the number of spaces available?
Mr. Sullivan.—In the central business district of Dublin—say between Dorset Street on the north side and the Grand Canal on the south side and between Gardiner Street on the east side and Church Street on the west side there are about 40,000 car parking spaces.
209. Senator Cooney.—Off-street?
Mr. Sullivan.—Off-street and on-street. Of those, half are private non-residential. In other words, they are completely outside the control of the corporation. That is a problem. However, the corporation are giving serious consideration to the building of multi-storey car parks for short-term car parking. To answer the previous question, what the corporation are doing in the centre city is to discourage long-term parking at offices. In the last development plan we allowed one car parking space per 500 square feet, whereas we are now allowing only one car parking space per 2,000 square feet. That change should assist CIE. In addition there is encouragement in the draft development plan for the building of offices at points where it will help CIE. That is an objective of that plan.
210. Deputy L. Lawlor.—The traffic management group would not appear to be very effective. Obviously they discuss the problems but they would not appear to be getting through to the ground, as it were.
Mr. Sullivan.—From a traffic management point of view there are 270 one-way streets in Dublin. That is an outstanding traffic-management measure and it is coupled with 38 miles of clearways. The effect of a clearway is to give an extra lane in the direction of the greatest flow of traffic—that is, coming into the city in the mornings and going home in the evenings, an outstanding traffic management measure if properly enforced.
211. Deputy L. Lawlor.—But to get back to the traffic management group, obviously they are not effective at this stage.
Mr. Sullivan.—They are effective. They have been responsible for the introduction of 270 one-way streets, for 38 miles of clearways and for the banning of right-hand turns and so on.
212. Deputy L. Lawlor.—We did hear that the wardens did not have enforcement powers. Surely that was one of the hotly debated subjects at the traffic study group; so why were the traffic wardens not given the powers to enforce the law?
Mr. Sullivan.—The powers they had were only over stationary vehicles. Under the powers they could only put a ticket on a stationary vehicle.
213. Deputy Kenneally.—This is in the city by-laws and they are enforceable?
Mr. Sullivan.—They are enforceable. The basic problem about the warden service was that the responsibility was divided; it was under the control of the gardaí and operated by the corporation. In anything where the responsibility is divided, no matter what it is, it cannot be effective. So the choice was made. Should the corporation take over the warden service or should the gardaí? The corporation’s council decided that the gardaí should take over the warden service in the light of their own experience and that is what they have done and they think that is the best way of going about it.
214. Senator Cooney.—It seems to me that the kernel of the problem is the question of getting as much traffic as possible off the streets. That can be done in two ways. People can be intimidated by the law or they can be attracted off the streets by providing adequate space for parking. I gather that the amount of parking space does not seem to be adequate and it does not seem to be properly located. There is a suggestion of a multi-storey car park. Mr. Sullivan mentioned that the number of parking spaces altogether in the centre of the city was 40,000; half of those are privately owned, leaving 20,000 between off street and on street parking. How many off street parking spaces are there in the city area?
Mr. Sullivan.—The basic problem in Dublin is the peak flow problem. During those peaks there are massive demands. There are too many cars coming into the city during peak hours and the people who cause most of the trouble are the commuters; they stay too long at meters; they stay too long on double yellow lines; they stay too long on single yellow lines. While that situation obtains, we will have problems. We have less problems moving during the off peak period. If we can control the long-term parker in Dublin we will have gone some way towards solving the problems. One of the ways we intend doing that is by reducing the car space allowance per square foot for offices and so on.
Mr. Prendergast.—In the provision of off-street car parking, multi-storey or otherwise, law enforcement is critical. Nobody is going to pay an hourly charge for off-street parking when he can park illegally for nothing. The second point I would like to make is that I have the impression from the other side of the table that the inadequacies of the bus service can be blamed entirely or mostly on traffic congestion. There is no doubt that traffic congestion contributes greatly to it, but we have done some studies which show that the number of buses has actually been reduced over the years. Mr. Sullivan has a graph that he can show the Committee. CIE have a convenient umbrella to hide behind in relation to any other inadequacies which they have. Even if there was a free traffic flow they would still have the problem of peak demand for public transport. Their capital investment must be based on peak demand requirements and this will result in much under-utilisation of assets during valley periods. If we are to provide for what is to happen in the future capital investment is necessary. There are also immense operational problems confronting CIE.
Mr. Dunne.—Senator Cooney asked a question about communications between CIE and the council. I agree that there is a marked lack of consultation. The only communication we have—and it is very little—is through the representation CIE have in the study group. Outside of that very little percolates back to the council. In fact we in the council approached the Minister on this question. In relation to public transport people are inclined to use the corporation as a whipping boy because it is the easy way out. CIE cannot keep their buses on schedule because of the traffic conditions in the city. There is a contributing factor, particularly in local areas, where cars are parked on double yellow lines on both sides of the road and there is always a danger that fire services or ambulances will not be able to get through. In my own area, for instance, there is a big car park but people insist on parking on both sides of very narrow streets. This is the type of situation we have and all because of lack of control. It is partly because the gardaí are involved in some dispute at the moment and are not enforcing the regulations. If we could get over that initial problem then we would have less problems with car parking spaces and multi-storey car parks.
Mrs. Hederman.—I would like to add one point. Not only has the corporation plans for building car parks but there was a multi-storey car park built at the rere of Baggot Street and it was closed down because of lack of business. Why would anybody bother to go to the inconvenience of going to a multi-storey car park a little bit away from where he is going to do his business when he can park on the footpath or on a double yellow line or double park and get away with it. Corporations have to bear this in mind when considering building multi-storey car parks. We have a car park up at Williams and Woods and it is not used.
215. Senator Hanafin.—So it all comes back to law enforcement?
Mrs. Hederman.—It is a crucial part of the problem.
Senator Hanafin.—I gather that whereas considerable car parking spaces are available there still would not be enough if there was adequate law enforcement. There would still be a need for more car parking facilities. There is a dual problem here— the first one is to see that the law is enforced; the second one is to build more car parking facilities.
216. Senator Cooney.—How far advanced are the plans for a new multi-storey car park?
Mr. Prendergast.—They are fairly well advanced for a car park in Waterford Street.
217. Senator Cooney.—Is there a date for opening?
Mr. Prendergast.—No. It is at the processing stage at official level. It would have to go to our council. If I were to try to put a date on it I would say about two years.
Mrs. Hederman.—At the moment it would be a white elephant because it probably would not be used. People would just park where they always do.
218. Senator Cooney.—It would be used if the parking regulations were enforced. But we could overdo parking facilities. If we had limitless parking spaces that would encourage traffic to come into the city. There would be no parking problem, but an increased number of cars coming in which would in turn create a traffic problem.
Mr. McEntee.—Yes. All cities must try to strike a balance between parking facilities available in the centres of business and in the arteries leading in. In the case of Dublin a transportation study was undertaken in 1971, the conclusion being that something in the region of 90,000 was about the maximum that could be tolerated in central Dublin. That would balance a street network that would have a certain amount syphoned off by the motorways then envisaged. If we do not keep that balance we are in trouble.
As far as multi-storey car parks are concerned, many of the proposed ones are already being used as surface car parks. One being constructed now is in Moore Street North Central. That will cater for 1,000 or 1,100 cars. That was included in the development of the Dublin Corporation and is regarded as one of their own planned car parks. When it is completed in a couple of years that will be available.
In relation to the degree of co-ordination and co-operation between CIE and the corporation, the 1971 DTS proposal for a co-ordinating committee at a high level was a very important suggestion. It was to include the manager of CIE, the city and county managers and either the secretary or deputy secretary of the two or three Departments interested. They were to consider the future and planning of transportation in Dublin. They obviously would have been in a position to knock heads together down the line and get some action. That proposal was never implemented, and in the absence of something like that one cannot get results down the line.
219. Senator Cooney.—Is the transport advisory committee that the Dublin County Council proposed in lieu of the proposal in the 1971 study?
Mr. McEntee.—That is probably what they had in mind in the county council. The terminology just gets twisted round occasionally, but it is the same sort of thing.
220. Senator Cooney.—Were any steps taken to implement the recommendation about this high level co-ordinating body, and why did it not get off the ground?
Mr. Prendergast.—We were at a couple of meetings with Government Departments where this matter was discussed. This business of implementing the DTS proposal had a bit of a see-saw. At one time there was a great enthusiasm about it, but then the recession and the oil crisis came along and enthusiasm waned. Money became tighter and it was thought better to put it off. It is only now, with the Government bringing out their ten year programme, that enthusiasm has revived. In our review of the DTS proposals, which we submitted, the city manager again calls for the establishment of some high level co-ordinating committee. As we see it the implementation of the DTS proposals should be on a phased basis. We think we should spend £X annually, whatever the allocation is, to get a balance adopted both in road construction and in public transport improvement. We would proceed, not devoting all the energy and all the money towards one aspect or the other, but so that together we would get immediate benefit by easing traffic congestion, and setting up a decent transport system year by year working towards the eventual goal. Only a very high level co-ordinating committee can take these unbiased decisions. Otherwise we will all be ploughing our own furrows.
Mr. McEntee.—We seem to be floundering here while other countries have a fairly smooth running machine. But that is because in the UK, for example, at metropolitan county level, there are three strings directly under their control—roads, which are under our Department of the Environment; traffic, which here is in the sphere of the Minister for Justice; and public transport, which relates here to the Department of Tourism and Transport. To get the equivalent amount of co-ordination here the Taoiseach would have to knock Ministers’ heads together. The reason why the various structures in other countries are so successful is because in no case do these matters have to go to such a high national level to be resolved or to get the necessary degree of co-ordination.
221. Senator Cooney.—In other words, there is an urgent need for a high level co-ordinating structure?
Mr. McEntee.—Yes, of some kind.
222. Chairman.—What do the corporation think of the rapid rail transit system? Are they in favour of it? Is it conflicting with or complementary to the roads system?
Mr. Dunne.—There is general acceptance by the public representatives of this. CIE have tended to talk about this and nothing more. It is a matter for CIE. We certainly agree that in the new towns the corporation are building outside the city in the county of Dublin we need rapid transportation to bring people to and from the city. I understand that there would be about 9% use of the rail transit system and one wonders if the cost/benefit situation is the right one. As far as we as a council are concerned, anything that will ease traffic congestion and will assist in taking more traffic from the roads will be of some benefit. If CIE are prepared to pay the estimated 1976 cost of £115 million, which would now be drastically increased because of inflation and so on, certainly the principle would be generally accepted by the council.
Mrs. Hederman.—We do not see much commitment. There does not seem to be any firm commitment to the rapid rail system. We are very much in the dark as to what plans are being implemented. The rapid rail system is an intrinsic part of our overall scheme, but unless we can see that that is going ahead we are operating in the dark. To what extent are the rail and bus services separated? There does not seem to be enormous co-operation or integration between them. Are the rail and bus services operated nationally under two separate headings? If so, that is rather unsatisfactory. To solve our transport problems the rapid rail system will have to be put in train. However, the general impression is that people, who try to use the rail system, have serious complaints about the rolling stock, which is absolutely out of date. A man told me that one day a door fell off one of the trains while he was on it. Travelling conditions are appalling. Even people who live beside a railway station are tending to use their cars because conditions are so bad. A firm commitment to a rapid rail system should be made soon.
Mr. Prendergast.—Dublin Corporation are the road authority and the planning authority. Our strategy on transportation is that set out in the Dublin Transportation Study. It envisages a balanced programme of road construction and development of public transport to cater for population expansion in the adjoining county area. There is a separate planning authority for the county area but we coordinate plans. The development of public transport is not the function of the local authority but of a State-sponsored body and they have opted for a rapid rail system. Within the broad transportation strategy we support it and do so in the development plan. However, if CIE changed their minds and said they would rather concentrate on roads and a bus-oriented policy, we would support that policy. Our commitment is to the full development of public transport, not to a particular form. We support the RRT because this is the form for which CIE have opted. There are limitations in a rail system and it is not as flexible as the buses. The Dublin Transportation Study envisaged that in the year 2000 only one-ninth of trips would be by the RRT system and eight-ninths of trips would be by other means. Investment policy would have to reflect that.
223. Chairman.—CIE say it would be absolutely impossible for the corporation to introduce a road system which would make it possible to bring into the city people from the new satellite towns. They say it would not be possible without the rapid rail system, no matter what expenditure there might be on roads or how clever a system might be devised. The corporation say they have an open mind on the subject, but CIE believe the corporation could not provide the roads which would make it possible to transport everybody by bus.
Mr. McEntee.—One must look at the spatial benefit of the RRT system for the whole metropolitan area. No city in the world has succeeded in operating only a metro or underground system. Even in London there are 300 or 400 bus services and considerable stretches are far removed from a tube station. When the RRT system is in operation, roughly 200,000 of the population of one million will be within 15 or 20 minutes’ walking distance of a station. These people would be concentrated in the Tallaght, Blanchardstown areas or on the coastal line. The remaining 800,000 would have no direct benefit and would have to rely on the road system. That is why there is no suggestion, even by the consultants who recommended the RRT system, that it could cater for everyone. There must be a balance. Hong Kong has a population density six times that of any other city and it is found necessary to use the roads. The same applies in continental cities which have good metro services. It is really a question of investment. Should the investment be made to the immediate benefit of the 200,000 while ignoring the 800,000 in other areas? This is a problem for those who make the decisions.
224. Senator Cooney.—I am sure your relationship with the gardaí is excellent. Regarding traffic management, have you any formal arrangement for meeting them and at what level?
Mr. McEntee.—We are in touch with them almost daily.
Mr. Sullivan.—There is a Garda traffic department in Dublin Castle. They deal with traffic management and continuously work with us. Engineers meet them two or three times a week in dealing with the problems of traffic management. One traffic management scheme concerns the reversal of the traffic flow on the quays. This will probably be implemented in 1982 when a bridge 50 metres east of Heuston Station is built. We have already discussed all the difficulties in detail with the gardaí and CIE. We would know their minds when designing a scheme, even before going to them. It is much the same as if we were working in the same building.
Mr. McEntee.—It would be most unusual for an inspector or superintendent to make a statutory request off his own bat. It is virtually unheard of.
225. Senator Cooney.—I get the impression that there are many interacting problems and the key might be a high level co-ordinating committee. Is it the view of the corporation that this is a sine qua non?
The witnesses withdrew.
Councillor Seán Barrett, Councillor John Boland, T.D., Mr. P. Morrissey, Assistant City and County Manager, and Mr. E. G. McCarron, Deputy Planning Officer, of Dublin County Council called and examined.
226. Chairman.—We have been hearing from CIE about the problems they have in providing services in the Dublin area. We have been hearing also from the corporation and we would now like to discuss these matters with you. The county council proposed recently the setting up of a transport advisory committee.* Do you believe that this would be of help in solving the problems?
Mr. Barrett.—The motion to set up the advisory committee was proposed by me and supported by a number of other councillors. At a subsequent meeting there were representatives of CIE present. It is an effort at some co-ordination between the various authorities involved in transport planning in the greater Dublin area. I see it only as a start. In the motion we suggested that the committee consist of representatives from the three local authorities concerned together with representatives of the Department of Tourism and Transport, the Department of the Environment, CIE and the Garda so that the various people concerned would discuss together the problems we are faced with.
227. Chairman.—From the point of view of providing a better transport system?
Mr. Barrett.—The problem in the city is contributed to largely by the bad transport system. Because there is not a proper transport network on which people can rely to take them to their places of employment, they are being forced to use their cars to a much greater extent than would be the case otherwise.
To take the county council area where we are developing three new towns—each of them bigger than Cork City—which are totally divorced from the already developed areas such as Dún Laoghaire and the city centre, there is no proper transport network to link these towns. I see this as part of the housing problem because there is not much point in the county council developing new towns to cater for the expanding population if there is not also a proper transport system. One can see the difficulty for a person who goes to live in Tallaght because he can get a house at a reasonable price there and having to commute daily to work in, say, Dún Laoghaire. The result of this situation is that the new areas are not being utilised fully by people from the already developed areas. There is a new industrial estate at Sandyford in which more than 1,000 people are expected to be employed but, again, there will be a big question of transport because it would probably take two or three hours travelling time each day for workers to reach the estate from the new towns.
We are working on a system that we have had since the forties. Occasionally CIE put on an extra bus service or reroute buses but there would not appear to be any thought of developing termini in places like Dún Laoghaire to service the three new towns on the outskirts. People must go into the city from the new towns in order to take a bus out to an area on the other side of the city. There is no system whereby they could travel by bus on the outskirts and thereby avoid the centre city. Part of the problem in regard to CIE is that there is not on their board any representatives from the local authorities. Consequently, there is no communication. This means that when we are developing new areas we do not know at the planning stage whether CIE will provide a service for those areas. There is an urgent need, therefore, for more communication between all the parties involved and I would visualise a time when the planning authority would be the body who would plan the public transport network, leaving CIE to carry out the operation on an agency basis.
228. Deputy Kenneally.—On the question of planning, what type of co-operation do you have with the planning authorities in the city? Do you work hand in hand?
Mr. Morrissey.—There is a unified planning authority. The manager of planning for the city of Dublin is also planning manager for the county but there are separate county and city staffs among whom there is absolute co-ordination and liaison. Mr. McCarron is the Deputy Planning Officer and he has functions both in the city and in the county in that role.
229. Senator Cooney.—Is there provision for discussion on a regular basis between the council and CIE regarding the transport problems you have outlined?
Mr. Morrissey.—No. Traffic is dealt with on an ad hoc basis.
Mr. Boland.—There is the traffic study group on which some of the technical staff of the council, of the Garda and of CIE are represented.
230. Senator Cooney.—Are the corporation represented on that?
Mr. Boland.—No. Mainly it deals with proposals for new signposting, new traffic lights and so on at a technical level. It deals with day to day matters but not with the overall situation.
231. Senator Cooney.—The corporation told us earlier that they had a similar type of body which meets regularly and initiates pretty far-reaching changes in traffic management. Your co-ordinating body does not do that; it is more a day to day operation?
Mr. Boland.—Yes. Mainly we discuss signposting of junctions and planning of traffic lights and pedestrian lights and so on.
232. Senator Cooney.—Do you feel you should be part of the corporation or that you should be linked with it and that the two bodies should sit together within this co-ordinating group?
Mr. Boland.—The suggestion was that a different sort of committee would be created. The transport advisory committee would be a different sort of thing and would carry out different functions to those of either of the other committees, because it would be involved in the planning of an overall transportation policy and its implementation. I will give an idea. Senator Cooney referred to motions that the council passed recently. In the last year there have been seven different motions passed by the council, all relating to the implementation of a rapid rail transit system, proper commuter links in the new towns of Tallaght, Clondalkin, Lucan and Blanchardstown, the setting up of this transport advisory committee and the electrification of the existing railway.
233. Senator Cooney.—Am I right in thinking that all you can do is pass resolutions?
234. Senator Cooney.—I suggest to you that one key to breaking the deadlock traffic jams in Dublin is a high level co-ordinating committee with people from the different Departments, the city and county managers and CIE at appropriate levels and that this body would recommend and implement decisions with regard to proper traffic planning. Does the county council feel the need for such a body?
Mr. Boland.—A body like that would be pointless unless there is a commitment to spend money. No matter at what level you have a group of people coming together and planning an overall policy, it would be pointless unless there is a major injection of capital. For instance, in the county development plan which was adopted five years ago the reservations for rapid rail link into the new towns were made. That was as much as the council could contribute at that time; and in the review of the plan which the council will be doing over the next six months there are suggestions about further reservations that have been made for future arrangements-the extension even of the existing CIE plans. But neither the council nor CIE can do anything about that until there is a decision about what way transportation policy in the Greater Dublin area is going to evolve. I do not think all the money can be spent on railways or all on roads; they have to be developed to complement each other. For instance, a ring road around Dublin has to be built in some form if the three new towns are to be interlinked and connected to the airport to the north and the developed suburbs to the south. Otherwise we will continue to have all the traffic going through the centre of the city.
235. Chairman.—Assuming that a certain amount of money is made available but not enough to provide both a very good road system and the rail rapid transit system, which do you think is the more vital to outlying areas and should have the money spent on it?
Mr. Barrett.—The question of developing roads in county Dublin at the moment depends on what sort of usage they are going to get. The cost of acquiring land is so vast that, even before we start at all, the acquisition costs have become so high that we are basically developing roads which will, no doubt. be used provided there is a proper public transport system. The bulk of the roads, that have been improved, at present are apparently only used for two or three hours a day at the most. The rest of the time one could go in and out quite freely, so that I think we have to develop roads and public transport together and then decide what standard to build a road up to. At present the roads are being used simply because people who want to get in and out of the city to and from their places of work are not guaranteed that they are going to get transport home or transport to their place of work on a regular basis. So we have got to develop the two together. I cannot see the problem being solved until there is a commitment given, maybe on a ten year basis, to develop a proper public or other transport system.
Mr. Boland.—This is purely a personal point of view, but I think that, if we have to decide, as things stand my tendency would be for the implementation of the rapid rail proposals. I am tremendously impressed by the fact that CIE say they could move 200,000 workers to within ten minutes walking distance of their place of employment. That certainly would make a massive contribution to improving the movement of traffic generally on the roads. The costs involved in either case are prohibitive, but it seems to me that the costs involved in the rail proposals come out very reasonably against the cost of a road network. It must also be taken into account that the existing rail line, that is the north-south railway line, has rolling stock in such bad condition that unless money is spent on it in the next year CIE will be forced to cut back even further on the services provided. They tell us that after morning rush hour they have to withdraw carriages for servicing so as to have them back in service for the evening.
236. Chairman.—CIE have impressed that on us. We accept that they are very inadequately equipped at the moment and that they really need money, but what we are interested in is the council’s views on the importance of the rapid rail transit system.
Mr. Boland.—If one is really conscious of the standard of the rolling stock and the fact that it still moves up to 30,000 people per day, even with that stock, certainly with an electrified standard they could move considerably more people. There is a unique opportunity to introduce a rapid rail system in that the existing main lines to the west and the south provide the necessary land to get rail links into the new towns of Blanchardstown, Clondalkin and Lucan. The council have kept a reservation line so as to take a spur from the new town of Tallaght back down into the southern line. In servicing those three towns which are the real big development areas in Ireland there is a unique opportunity because the land reservation is already there and is not there for the road network. For roads the county council would have to set out to acquire land compulsorily at a very high cost. Being realistic now, the local authorities are going to build roads to much smaller standards than the original proposals for motorways. They are now thinking about building dual-carriageways. The fact that the land is available to get rail links to the three towns to the west of the city is a tremendous advantage in planning for a rapid rail system.
Mr. McCarron.—The question of spending money on roads is a dangerous question because it tends to ignore the need for a transportation policy as a whole. We are dealing with the need to provide public transportation as well, and if we spend money on roads we must consider in what way roads will be utilised. As Councillor Barrett pointed out, if we build a certain road network and do not provide a rapid rail or some other good system, all that public transport will have to be carried on that road with resultant congestion because of additional traffic. Alternatively we could introduce very difficult to enforce restraints, such as bus lanes, to keep up the modal split, to ensure that there is sufficient public transport which in turn reduces the capacity of the roads. That is where the emphasis on rapid rail achieves some importance.
There are other problems in relation to the reservations. We have held on to these, but at some stage a point will be reached when the question of compensation will arise. This will immediately bring out the difficulty that the county council are in if they are holding a reservation for a route for which they have no direct responsibility. Who will have to pay the compensation to the people affected? The county council, who will have nothing to do with building and running a rapid rail system. or CIE? This is an area where co-ordination is needed. So far we have been lucky in avoiding having to pay substantial sums of money in a speculation situation.
In relation to the traffic co-ordination group. good work is being done in the city, essentially on traffic management on an existing network, whereas the problems in the county are better dealt with by a similar committee. The real problem is to establish a proper broad network serving the whole area.
Mr. Morrissey.—We estimate that the population in Dublin County has increased from 230,000 people in 1971 to 400,000 now. There are growth areas in Tallaght, Clondalkin and Blanchardstown. In addition, the south east county area has been tremendously built-up in the last ten years. The north county towns such as Skerries. Malahide and Swords are all continuing to grow in population. Dublin county is the fastest growing area in western Europe. The problems for the county in relation to transportation. whether we use roads, rapid rail or the existing rail system, are rather different to the problems in the city area. In the county area. in places like, Swords, Tallaght, or Blanchardstown, the existing road network without building new roads. is not good enough and there will have to be an input into that.
I was in Milan recently and I saw an underground system there which was not as sophisticated as the CIE proposals. Essentially it was only one line with a spur off it, but it has made a tremendous contribution there. There is no doubt that, as Deputy Boland says, if we have to opt for one or the other at the moment, a rapid rail system should operate between the new towns and the centre of the city. However. I do not accept that we can afford to neglect the road network, especially that connecting the new towns; and the road programme adopted by the County Council should be implemented.
237. Chairman.—Would the council go so far as to say, as do CIE, that without some kind of extra rail system the problem will be almost insurmountable? CIE say that the corporation and the county council would find it impossible to provide an adequate road system to solve the transportation problem by buses alone.
Mr. Morrissey.—They could not provide it quickly enough because of the difficulties of land acquisition for building major roads. There are examples of roads which have needed to be improved for ten or 15 years. What appears to be slow progress is in fact the normal delays inherent in compulsory purchase operations which we have but which cannot be speeded up any more.
238. Chairman.—Even assuming the council had adequate funds?
Mr. Morrissey.—Even assuming we had adequate funds.
In relation to the co-ordinating committee that the DTS envisaged on the lines suggested by the Department of Tourism and Transport, the Department of the Environment, CIE and the local authorities, the members of the local authorities should be represented on that. It is not just enough to have planners, engineers and managers; there should be public representation on it.
Mr. Boland.—The projected population for the next 12 years in the county of Dublin is 600,000, so that as many people will be living in the county as there are living in the city. To a large extent traffic management or the improvement of road networks in the city are all trying to cater for new populations that have been forced to live in the county because the city is at its capacity now. The population in the county will increase by 50 per cent in the next 12 years, so obviously the greatest amount of work needs to be done in the county. If we can begin to move people within the county to one point or another without moving them through the city all the time, that would be a major contribution, as Councillor Barrett said. That is where the DTS ring road around the city-county boundary comes to prominence.
Mr. Barrett.—There are enormous social implications in trying to construct roads in areas having a large population. When it is intended to improve or widen a road there is much pressure on public representatives and this is reasonable. These people have genuine grievances and I would agree with Deputy Boland in opting for the RRT system.
Mr. Morrissey.—The last resolution calls for the electrification of the line from Balbriggan.
Mr. Boland.—Phase one of the CIE proposals only envisage the electrification of the line from Howth to Bray. This will not affect commuters travelling between Balbriggan and Howth junction. We feel very strongly that this line should be electrified as part of phase one. A link to Ballymun is envisaged in CIE’s long-term proposals and we are considering in our review of the development plan extending that link through the airport and the town of Swords back into the northern line. That would help to give a circle route, as well as electrifying the north county town developments. We feel the electrification of the Balbriggan-Howth junction line is vital to that concept.
The witnesses withdrew.
Mr. E. S. Doherty, Assistant Commissioner and Mr. F. Davis, Chief Superintendent of the Garda Síochána called and examined.
239. Chairman.—You are aware of certain evidence given by CIE about traffic in Dublin. We have also had a very interesting discussion with Dublin Corporation in which they told us of their liaison with the gardaí and various other bodies in relation to traffic problems. There was a suggestion that the gardaí have not sufficient expertise in traffic management to solve some of the problems met by CIE. What is your view on that?
Mr. Doherty.—It depends on what type of expertise we are talking about. All our men are trained in traffic laws and their practical application and enforcement. Many of our senior officers have gone on courses abroad where the subject of traffic was included in the curriculum. Senior officers also attend IPA courses. Traffic experts have come from abroad to speak on traffic matters. Mr. Davis, our traffic expert in headquarters, is very much involved with the various bodies which have been mentioned; he has been abroad with Dublin Corporation and CIE and is familiar with the situation in other countries. We have available to us the expertise that is available to Dublin Corporation, the Department of the Environment and every local authority. We have not a traffic engineer or traffic consultant, but the Ryan report recommended the employment of such personnel as advisers in the future. I would not agree that we lack the expertise necessary to look at the problem in an objective way.
240. Deputy Kenneally.—Are there sufficient gardaí on the beat to keep the traffic flowing? It is said the parking laws are openly flouted. What is the problem in regard to traffic wardens?
Mr. Doherty.—This problem has been left in a vacuum over a number of years and there was a dual responsibility. Special legislation was passed some years ago to enable local authorities to employ traffic wardens to enforce parking regulations. Despite this legislation, there was a reluctance on the part of elected representatives to take over the scheme. Following much correspondence and discussion between the corporation, the Department of Justice and ourselves, the problem was handed back to the gardaí on 30 April last. Following an induction course, we put on the beat 35 gardaí from the training centre. We also made special arrangements about the operation of clearways. The main bone of contention everywhere is the rate of traffic flow. Towards improving this situation we have approximately 24 motor cyclists operating on the clearways during peak periods. They operate as far out as Whitehall, Fairview, Ballsbridge, Ranelagh and Harold’s Cross. The clearways are heavily manned each morning. Traffic flow is improving and we intend to maintain the impetus.
It is fair to say that we may have been handicapped to some extent due to pressures in other areas as a result of which motorcycle training had been suspended for a while so that when we were handed back the problem, of which we did not have much advance notice, we were not as well equipped to deal with it as we might have been had we had more advance notice. The situation of the traffic flow is our first problem and we are concentrating heavily on it. So far as the enforcement of the parking regulations is concerned we have these gardaí on the beat in the centre city. I am not saying for a moment that 35 men are sufficient to deal with this problem nor am I saying that it is a problem that can ultimately be left to the gardaí alone. We have many other important matters to attend to. If a gardaí is dealing with matters of parking and there is a robbery, for instance, his priorities change of necessity and he must leave the parking situation. He is likely to have left a clear street but may return to find it full of parked cars. However, we are hopeful and we have got approval for a warden scheme to be operated within the Commissioner’s area of responsibility. In the near future advertisements will be appearing for the recruitment of wardens on a part-time basis of four hours per day. The reason for the part-time element is that many of the problems encountered by the corporation in this regard related to industrial problems and we would wish to avoid getting into that sort of situation. We shall be seeking 50 of these part-time wardens.
241. Deputy Kenneally.—We have been informed that you do not have sufficient towing-away vehicles, that there is no vehicle with which lorries can be towed away and that there is not a pound to which vehicles can be taken. What is your reaction to that?
Mr. Doherty.—That is true especially in relation to lorries because we have not got any vehicle capable of towing away an articulated truck, for instance. This is a matter that will have to be explored. While we are at liberty within the State to engage the services of any agency that could do the job, I doubt that there is any such agency. On the issue of the tow trucks in general— for the smaller type vehicles we have four vehicles of our own and we have taken over the two vehicles that were in use by Dublin Corporation. It is true that we do not have a pound at present but the corporation have agreed to let us have their pound. There are some problems in that regard. For instance, there are a number of cars there which the corporation wish to dispose of and there are certain security problems involved. In addition there are some manning problems that cannot be overcome until we have the warden system in operation.
242. Deputy Kenneally.—Another problem mentioned by CIE was that when they made representations in regard to a bus lane in Parliament Street, there was an excessive delay in the Commissioner’s office in coming to a decision. Is there usually a lengthy hold-up?
Mr. Doherty.—There is a study group which comprises officials of Dublin Corporation and of CIE. They examine this problem as it pertains throughout the city on the basis of benefit or otherwise to road users. The only recommendation they have put forward is for a counter-flow lane for Parliament Street. We have considered that recommendation and as officer in charge in the Dublin Metropolitan Area I agreed that we would do this as a pilot run, but before going ahead I felt that the traders in the area—and it is completely a trading area— should be notified and that we should examine what are their problems, too. We found that many people in the area had no rear access to their premises so that loading and unloading is conducted on the street. In many cases the wares concerned are of a heavy type, for instance, one is a carpet business. No later than Friday last Mr. Davis and I met a deputation from the Parliament Street traders association. Initially they had indicated that they would not allow this development to proceed. They indicated that if necessary they would get an injunction from the High Court on the basis that we would be the cause of ruining their business. After meeting with them last week when we discussed various possible solutions to their problems they agreed to co-operate with us on this matter. Consequently, when the necessary legislation is processed the counter-flow arrangement will be operated in that street but it will be on the basis of a pilot scheme until we see how it operates and whether it will affect those traders in the manner they anticipate.
Mr. Davis.—A number of feasibility studies have been conducted throughout the city to ascertain whether such arrangements would be of benefit but the places examined so far indicate that the disbenefits to the public generally would by far outweigh the benefits to CIE. This area is the only one at this point in time that shows potential benefits.
243. Chairman.—From your initial tightening up on traffic control which began about a month ago, are you hopeful of being able to exercise strict control of illegal parking? The corporation repeatedly referred to the fact that there is no solution to the problem until illegal parking is dealt with effectively. They would consider, for instance, having extra parking spaces, but they said such a move would be futile at present because of the lack of enforcement of the parking regulations which resulted in people not using official car parks but parking anywhere they wished.
Mr. Doherty.—We asked the Minister for the Environment to increase the penalties and he agreed. We would not have asked for such action if it had not been our intention to enforce the law. It is our intention to enforce the law in so far as it lies within our capability to do so but much will depend on the response to the advertisement for traffic wardens. If the terms of appointment do not prove attractive enough we may not get an adequate response. In such circumstances we would have to go back to the Department of the Public Service for the purpose of having new conditions negotiated. However, on the assumption that we get the wardens we are looking for, with the strength of gardaí in the area and with some changes that we are suggesting to the Department of the Environment in the matter of the removal and storage of vehicles, our efforts should prove successful. In other jurisdictions—for example, in England and Northern Ireland—police have power to move vehicles, not necessarily to a place of storage but into an adjacent street where they would not create problems. Putting a tow wagon into a crowded street and moving one or two vehicles at a time will not provide a quick solution to the problem but the removal of vehicles to an adjacent street does provide a quick solution.
244. Chairman.—Do you mean directing car to go into an adjacent street?
Mr. Doherty.—No. I mean getting into a car and driving it to another street rather than towing it across the city to a pound. In the long term a tow vehicle would be used to tow the vehicle from the street to which it had been moved and there would be an on-the-spot fine anyway of £5 or £7 depending on whether the vehicle was parked in a no-parking zone or in a clearway. If all of these measures come into effect I would be confident of a marked improvement in the traffic situation in Dublin.
Mr. Davis.—The current regulations regarding the removal of vehicles impose an obligation on us to store them but there is no such regulation in Britain or in Northern Ireland.
245. Senator Cooney.—I take it that the proposed warden service will be under the control of the Commissioner. Is it intended that it will supplement the existing garda force with regard to parking regulations or will it replace them?
Mr. Doherty.—No, it will supplement them. In particular the wardens would enforce the meter system, which provides for progressive movement during the day, and they would supplement the activities of the Garda.
246. Senator Cooney.—And will their power come from the 1975 Act?
Mr. Doherty.—No, the 1975 Act refers to wardens. It is somewhat similar.
247. Senator Cooney.—Will their authority extend to dealing with tax on cars?
Mr. Doherty.—It will.
248. Senator Cooney.—Is it considered that the new wardens, supplementary to the gardaí, might at some stage be given some traffic control functions? In particular at the moment the wardens, if they see a traffic jam building up, have no power to direct traffic to prevent it building up. Is it intended that extra powers along these lines be given to the wardens?
Mr. Doherty.—No, not at the moment.
249. Senator Cooney.—Would you think that it would be desirable? I know that the 1975 Act, when being processed, met with considerable opposition from the Representative Bodies even in regard to giving them powers to put on tax tickets. Do you think there would be similar opposition to giving them an extension of their powers to allow them to control traffic? In other cities traffic wardens have powers to control traffic and they would be very useful at a busy time. Do you think they should have those powers here?
Mr. Doherty.—In this situation I do not think they would have the expertise. Anyway currently, so far as the main arteries are concerned, they are fairly well signalised. If signals were to be put out of action and we were going to go for manual enforcement, that would be a matter for somebody who has had more training in the matter than a traffic warden.
250. Senator Cooney.—I do not mean that this should be done on a wide scale but if, for example, a traffic light goes out of action, it can be very helpful to the flow of traffic if there is an immediate official present to direct traffic at that junction. Would it not be beneficial in the genaral traffic control situation if these people did have that function?
Mr. Doherty.—In this particular arena a lot would depend on the type of persons we get on the basis of the wage being offered and whether or not they would be capable of taking over in the situation the Senator envisages.
251. Senator Cooney.—Would it not be desirable to try to recruit persons capable of taking over in such situations, because I do not think it would be a very intricate function and I do not think it would require an awful lot of training? I think any citizens with common sense could do this job.
Mr. Doherty.—I would not like to give a specific answer at this point until we see what our experience in this field is. It is quite possible that the opposition the Senator referred to in the last instance would be no longer valid since the new wardens would be under the direct control of the Commissioner. It may be possible to extend the operation in this way.
252. Senator Cooney.—Am I right in thinking that in other jurisdictions, principally the UK, wardens do have extra traffic control powers?
Mr. Doherty.—Yes. They come out and operate on busy junctions at busy periods and they control school children as well.
253. Senator Cooney.—It would seem to me that that would be a desirable function for them to have. Do you agree?
Mr. Doherty.—I presume that in relation to anybody under the direct control of the Commissioner and who has an input into the traffic system it would be desirable that he be able to carry out such functions.
254. Chairman.—The former wardens had no power really except to put a parking ticket on a car. If a man came up and double parked in their presence they could not really do anything about it. Will the new wardens be able to deal with that kind of situation?
Mr. Davis.—The new wardens will have the same powers as the previous wardens.
255. Senator Cooney.—On the question of the processing of parking tickets, that ran into some difficulty with the result that tickets became well nigh meaningless and motorists soon realised that. Is there anything being done to ensure that the penalty falls reasonably quickly on the offender?
Mr. Doherty.—We have looked into that. We are currently up to date and I think we will continue to maintain that situation. There are problems at the moment with motorists and with the postal strike and particularly in regard to the question of the registration disc. Many people’s applications are in the post or lying in River House because they cannot be sent out. There are difficulties at the moment that we would not normally have.
256. Senator Cooney.—What percentage of motorists would pay fines on the ticket without waiting for a summons?
Mr. Davis.—I would say about 10 or 11 per cent. A reminder is sent out and about 35 to 40 per cent of people respond to that.
257. Senator Cooney.—To get back to this question of traffic management, you are represented on a joint study group with CIE and the corporation. The proposals that emanate from that group are the result of the discussions within the group. How do you feel about how quickly they are being implemented? Do you feel that the machinery to implement the proposals quickly is adequate or do you find difficulties or frustration in getting your views across?
Mr. Doherty.—One proposal was the question of extension of the clearway hours back from 8 o’clock to 7 o’clock in the morning and from 5 o’clock in the evening back to 4.30 as it was felt that might improve conditions. We implemented that and it did not call for any fresh legislation; we were able to do it. A lot depends on what has to be done. If we have to process it to the extent of looking for new legislation it can take some time, but if it is a simple matter it will be done fairly quickly.
258. Chairman.—In relation to this bus lane—the pilot scheme in Parliament Street —do you think it is likely that this will be extended to many areas? You made a very interesting point about the difficulties from the point of view of shopkeepers and so on but, leaving that aside for the moment, do you think that there is scope for improvement in traffic conditions, and in the flow of buses in particular, by having these bus lanes?
Mr. Davis.—We must look at this from a practical point of view. Take one or two bus routes in Dublin for instance. On the bus route through Dame Street, Patrick Street, the Coombe, Cork Street and Crumlin Road there is only space for two lanes of traffic. The same situation obtains on the bus route through Clanbrassil Street to Harold’s Cross. There may be short areas here and there where we could provide a bus lane, provided there could be one or two lanes for traffic in addition to bus lanes. Where the buses actually dictate the speed of the traffic, I do not see much improvement. There is very little space on footpaths where one could provide lay-byes where buses could pull in to pick up and unload passengers.
259. Deputy Kenneally.—O’Connell Street is one street where there is a lot of congestion. Would a bus lane be of any advantage to O’Connell Street?
Mr. Davis.—In practice, there are bus lanes in the east and west sides of O’Connell Street to all intents and purposes. There is nothing else there except loading and that has to be permitted. The same could be said for D’Olier Street and Westmoreland Street.
260. Senator Cooney.—What is the strength of the motor cycle force throughout the city now?
Mr. Davis.—The overall strength of motor cycles and cars is 60, it could be 61 or 59.
261. Senator Cooney.—That is, on traffic?
262. Senator Cooney.—Are there plans to increase the number of motor cycles?
Mr. Davis.—Yes, as more trained personnel become available.
263. Senator Cooney.—How many do the Garda aim for?
Mr. Doherty.—We aim to increase it by approximately another 20 per cent. So far as traffic control is concerned, and so far as clearway control is concerned, the motor cyclist is really the only effective weapon. We are anxious, as far as possible, to see that traffic flow improves and that clearways are clear. We are also anxious that the public be educated in regard to lane driving, where the biggest problem arises in relation to traffic flow.
264. Senator Cooney.—Has there been any feed-back from the new men on the parking enforcement as to the reaction of the public? Has it been resented?
Mr. Doherty.—We had a deputation last week from Parliament Street, who commented that we did not need the contra flow bus lane there, that traffic flowed smoothly in Parliament Street. They were very complimentary to the garda in the street. They said he acted totally impartially and that, if a person had a problem, he was given time to look after it and the garda kept the traffic on the move. Basically all we can do is look at the situation when we go out, or listen to the comments of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the Centre City Traders’ Association or the Parliament Street Traders’ Association. Admittedly we are in the beautiful situation that the petrol shortage has reduced the volume of traffic in the centre city, but the feedback is heartening.
265. Senator Cooney.—Was there a substantial increase in the number of tickets issued in the last month as compared with the last time there was a crack-down on illegal parking?
Mr. Doherty.—Our attitude for the first few weeks was that we wished to educate the public into the fact that the gardaí were now heavily interested in this problem along with their other problems. We were anxious that the people would abide by the law rather than that we would enforce it on them. Strangely enough we see the issue of a lot of parking tickets as being negative in that it does not improve traffic flow. We have tried to prevent parking. Once a street becomes clogged by parked vehicles we have lost out in the traffic flow situation. In the matter of the issue of tickets we were a bit lax in the beginning, but now our men have a clear direction to issue them if they do not get the co-operation of the public.
266. Senator Cooney.—Are there signs of co-operation?
Mr. Doherty.—There are very definite signs. Ultimately the only answer to the problem is the co-operation of the public and we are anxious to get that. If the number of tickets continue to increase, we are losing the battle and we are not improving the traffic flow.
Mr. Davis.—We would like to issue no tickets at all, but that would be Utopia.
Mr. Doherty.—In this traffic control area, sufficient use is not being made of the off-street parking facilities made available by the corporation or of the available private car parks. We have prepared aide memoirs for the gardaí on traffic duty, setting out where parking is available within their designated areas, so that when motorists come along to park in a particular street, they can bring to their notice that if they would drive 40 or 50 yards further on parking would be available to them. We feel that at the moment not enough use is being made of private and off-street parking spaces.
267. Senator Cooney.—Would it be of assistance to the gardaí who participate in the study group to have some specialised training in the field of traffic engineering generally? Or is that end of it already dealt with by the corporation and CIE personnel?
Mr. Doherty.—The people involved in the study group are never below the rank of Inspector. It comprises either the Traffic Superintendent of the city, the Traffic Superintendent in Mr. Davis’s Department or one of the Inspectors. These are people who have actually been working—exploring the problem on the site—with the traffic engineer from Dublin Corporation, and generally they have arrived at a mutual viewpoint as to what the answer to the problem is.
268. Senator Cooney.—Am I correct in saying that traffic control is the Garda area and they are qualified in it, and that traffic management is for the corporation technical experts?
Mr. Doherty.—Yes, and there is tremendous co-operation and tremendous interest in a solution to the problem.
269. Senator Cooney.—But the corporation and the Garda have two different roles?
270. Chairman.—There is the question of not enough parking spaces in the city centre and then the other question that we could reach a point where, if we had too many parking spaces, we would only encourage people to come in and that might cause a traffic problem. Have the gardaí a comment on that?
Mr. Doherty.—My personal view is that we will have a problem in getting people to park, say, in Donnybrook or in Dorset Street or in any one of the outer areas unless there is some method by which the motorist can continue on to his destination. If there was good cross city transport available—through a rapid rail system— from points where people could park their cars, I am quite sure that the public would use it. Indeed in urban areas where there are rail facilities more and more people are parking their cars at the railway station and are using the rail services. Until such time as we can guarantee that to the motorist he will continue to drive to his place of business, and we cannot blame him for that.
271. Deputy Kenneally.—There was a lot of comment about the maintenance, cleanliness and general condition of CIE buses and that the Carriage Department have no control over that. Are the gardaí happy about that?
Mr. Doherty.—CIE like any other big organisation obviously have industrial problems; but when they are operating smoothly I am satisfied that the traffic experts and the management in CIE are as considerate about having their buses up to standard as our PSV people would be. Even if we were in there at the moment we would find ourselves faced with problems in a situation where industrial action means that the buses are not cleaned and are not serviced. I do not know how anyone would get over that. I would not blame CIE management for it.
The witnesses withdrew.