Minister is ‘asleep at the wheel on Bus Connects’

by Rebecca Ryan

The Minister for Transport has said he is “fully committed” to the Bus Connects project.

It comes as he was slammed last week after media reports claimed he told a residents’ association meeting in the constituency that “he had nothing to do with the Bus Connects plan” and that he had “no responsibility for the National Transport Authority”.

The plan is proposing to change bus routes into the city centre with a €2 billion investment. However, some aspects of the plan have sparked outrage among some local communities who could be “left without a direct link to the city centre”.

Justin McAleese (FF) said: “It is unacceptable for the Minister for Transport to take a back-seat role in billion-euro transport projects.

“It is remarkable that judicial appointments, the location of Garda Stations and peace in North Korea appear to fall under the remit of the Minister for Transport but the €770m Bus Connects plan, which was officially launched by the Minister 18 months ago, does not.

“It is ironic that the Minister is proposing to make a submission through the public consultation process about a transport policy that he has the ultimate responsibility for.

“Speaking of transport policy, it is hugely concerning that the Minster has not yet published the cost benefit analysis of the proposed MetroLink project.

“The current plan will see the closure of stations between Charlemont and Sandyford on the recently opened cross-city Luas line for between 18 to 24 months and will mark the end of the LUAS green line as we currently know it.

“Standing back, taking a back-seat role and saying it has nothing to do with him is unacceptable,” said McAleese.

Senator Kevin Humphreys (LAB) has also criticised the Transport Minister and said he is “asleep at the wheel on Bus Connects.”

He said: “It is worth noting that the Minister’s distancing of himself from the BusConnects plan comes after a day of severe criticism for the plan in Dail Eireann. I would ask the question that if it is not the job of the Minister for Transport, who in the cabinet is responsible?”

A spokesperson from the Department of Transport said: “Minister Ross never said he had ‘nothing to do with BusConnects’.

“He is of course responsible for public transport policy and instructed the NTA to devise a plan to dramatically improve our Bus system over the coming years. He didn’t draw the map, nor is he involved in specific route selections.”

Minister Shane Ross said: “I am fully committed to the BusConnects project and believe it will deliver radical change. Buses will be more frequent, journey times will be shorter and more reliable, and 200 km of dedicated, segregated cycle lanes will be delivered. All of this is good news for our community and our city.

“There are obvious problems in certain areas, both in my own constituency and across Dublin. This is the reason the NTA engage in a public consultation so that these gaps can be discovered and remedied.

“I urge all TDs to represent the concerns of their communities to the NTA before the close of the consultation process. It is important that any issues are highlighted, and I too will be doing that for my local community.”

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