Yes, let’s get cars out of Dublin City centre.But wouldn’t it help if we had an underground railway as promised – in 1970.

Dublin’s underground. Sadly the idea itself is the only thing underground…it’s dead and buried

A couple of years ago, Dublin City Council removed a couple of parking spaces on Jervis Street which had been reserved for disabled drivers. It was done to facilitate traffic entering and leaving the Jervis Shopping Centre car park. They were never replaced.

That might not seem like a bit deal to most people. But it is a big deal for those who used those spaces.

This is the council which now wants to ban all traffic from College Green. Well, all traffic apart from the LUAS which we were told would be underground.

You don’t remember us being told it would be underground? I’m not surprised. Because we were told that in 1970 and 1975 (when I wrote a lead story for the Herald which carried the headline UNDERGROUND RAILWAY FOR DUBLIN.)

We’ve been told every few years that we’re going to get an underground railway. Now, it seems, if the various planners get their way we might get one. In 2040.

Of course we all want to see fewer cars in our towns and cities.

But it’s not a simple process.

Look at the main street in Bray. It’s dead.

Same in Dun Laoghaire where not just the main street is dead, the shopping centre is too.

Biarritz at the front, Beirut at the back. That’s a description of Dun Laoghaire I’ve heard more than once.

There would be fewer cars in Dublin of course, if the City Council didn’t have its offices in the centre of the city, beside Christchurch where its underground car park sits on a site which was once occupied  by the 1,000 year old remains of Viking Dublin.

The excavation of the space for that car park was carried out with little regard for the material being removed. Much of it ended up in landfill.

I haven’t heard a proposal from the council to close that car park or to relocate to their offices to the suburbs.

We’re going to get buses. Hundreds of buses trundling through our urban villages like Glasnevin and Rathgar and Terenure and many others.

Trees, some of them more than 100 years old will be chopped down. Our Dublin councils seem to have a thing about chopping down trees, God knows why. I wish they had the same enthusiasm for picking up litter but, I suppose, you can’t have everything.

I would love to see more bike lanes in Dublin, wider segregated bike lanes. I would love to see a congestion charge for motorists. I would love to see more pedestrianisation.

But I am firmly of the belief that sending more and more double decker buses through our urban villages is not the answer. I am firmly of the belief that turning suburban roads into bus corridors is madness. The slogan used by those opposed to Bus Connects – Communities not corridors – is perfect.

Let’s take this opportunity to remove as many cars from the city as we can – bearing in mind that there are some for whom the car is the only way they can get around.

The answer is straight in front of us.

Or rather, underneath us.

An underground, starting with the line from the city to Rathfarnham. That line would remove thousands of cars from the roads, boost all the urban villages along its route and leave trees and front gardens undisturbed.

When will it happen?

I reckon three years after Dublin City Council moves from Wood Quay and a year after the official opening of the Viking Museum on the site.

That is…NEVER!


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