November 2005 Archives

Transport Authority for Dublin

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The establishment of a single transport authority for Greater Dublin is long overdue. If it had been established at the right time, we might not have spent €2 billion on Luas and the Port Tunnel.

The proposed body must operate as an authority in both name and deed. In the long run, it is unlikely to be effective unless it controls (or, at least, supervises) Dublin Bus, Luas and DART and has real clout with the four local authorities and other vested interests which collectively and separately are making such an utter mess of Dublin's traffic. However, no amount of legislation will ensure this.  The only way forward is brute political force and, where this doesn't work, to unhesitantly "name and shame" over the heads of obstructing bureaucrats. When Minister Cullen ditched Minister Dempsey's plans for directly-elected mayors, he also jettisoned the opportunity to put in place a publicly accountable transport supremo for Dublin, namely, a directly-elected Lord Mayor.

It is far from clear whether the authority is being set up to manage future developments  or whether it will also have an overriding role in sorting out the existing traffic and public transport chaos. If only the former, then we could be throwing more good money after bad. I hope Professor Margaret O'Mahony will take this broader need into account when planning the authority and locating its chief executive.

This letter was published in the Irish Times on 8th November 2005.

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