What makes a city? Some may argue that if a larger town has a cathedral, it’s a city. In the modern day, there are many elements to a city, not just a larger church – shopping centres, business parks and a functional public transport system. While Dublin ticks many of these boxes, the so called ‘metropolitan’ city miserably and utterly fails when it comes to public transport.
Infrastructure and, specifically, public transport have never been a priority for the Irish government. As the housing crisis and questionable presidential candidates consume op-ed columns and panels on televised morning politics shows, the topic rarely crops up. The time has now come to finally address yet another crisis on Dublin’s streets – our inefficient, unreliable public transport system.
Budget 2019 saw the allocation of €2.36 billion for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, consisting of €755 million in current spending and €1.61 billion for investing in infrastructure. Once analysed, the allocated sums just feed into what we already have – adding another runway at Dublin Airport (amid talks of a third terminal), improving local roads (a project long overdue, as residents in rural Ireland will confirm) and extending trams on the Luas.
None of the above address the drastic need for a complete overhaul in the city’s public transport system. We remain to be the only major capital city in Europe without a train network to the airport; a nightmarish system for any tourist who arrives between midnight and 5 am, when buses are not in operation. The scandalous €368 million Luas Cross City, which seemed like a good idea, failed completely- not only did it completely jam College Green, but it takes just as long to walk across the city as it does to travel by tram.
Dublin Bus is infamously known for its unreliable routes, with any trip on average taking approximately twice as long as it would by car. Meanwhile, the new DART system sees even more complaints of services being late, delayed or cancelled altogether.
Dublin city is gasping desperately for a metro line – and it will finally get one in 2027. The MetroLink project will see Swords and Sandyford linked, with, finally, a stop at the airport and even DCU itself. While this is good news, 2027 is much too far away – Budapest opened its first metro line in 1896 and Amsterdam in 1977 . Today, the underground metro systems are the heart of transportation in both cities.
According to CSO figures, Dublin airport saw a 4.8 per cent increase in passenger numbers in comparison to quarter four in 2016 and 2017, a significant increase in the short space of 12 months. More so than ever, Dublin is seeing a staggering influx of people, commuting in and out of the city. With tenants paying an average of €1,500 a month in rental costs and a public transport system that leaves much to be desired, these figures will gradually fall, as basic facilities are simply not there to sustain a large population.
As our society loses its attention span and time dissolves into money, waiting around for a bus just doesn’t cut it. For a city to sustain its busy professionals, it needs to evolve alongside them; otherwise, they will leave, and find another city that has not only beautiful Romanesque cathedrals, but reliable and fast public transport.
Image Credit: Alison Clair