The Cabinet has green-lit a plan to overhaul Dublin's bus network, paving the way for planning applications to be lodged.
The multibillion euro BusConnects plan will see 230 kilometres of bus corridors and 200km of cycling lanes built, increasing bus services by 25 per cent, along with the development of next-generation ticketing mobile apps.
Construction will be carried out in three phases to reduce the impact on commuters, with work likely to last until at least 2030. The first phase will start in 2024 and involve routes from Clongriffin, Blanchardstown, Tallaght and Bray to Dublin city centre.
Speaking after the Government gave the green light to the project, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan ruled out calls for free public transport for the remainder of the year, although he said a planned 20 per cent reduction in fares will kick in from tomorrow.
“This is an exciting day for public transport in the city. Commuters will have access to a faster, and more flexible service, allowing them to more quickly move about the city for work, school and pleasure,” Mr Ryan said of BusConnects.
“We will have cleaner and quieter streets, and with the additional roll-out of zero emissions buses, to be incorporated into the BusConnects routes, we can look forward to a much better quality of life for Dubliners and visitors to the city.”
The National Transport Authority (NTA) can now move to submit planning applications for the Core Bus Corridors to An Bord Pleanála, which will see “high-frequency services running along nine new Spines, improved orbital services and increased local services.”
The current fleet of buses in Dublin will be increased and converted to a zero-emission fleet by 2035, which the Government says will save the equivalent of around 85,000 tonnes of CO2 a year in line with its Climate Action Plan targets.
Buses and shelters will be modernised and “next generation” ticketing technology will allow the simple payment of fares with credit and debit cards.
Anne Graham, chief executive of the NTA, welcomed the project approval, saying: “BusConnects is a game changer and will make a major contribution in terms of encouraging people onto public transport.”
It comes as various communities across Dublin have protested against and raised concerns over the project, with the major overhaul of the capital’s bus network involving the scrapping of some current routes, the widening of roads and some households losing front gardens or trees.