As some of you know, I worked to collect petitions against cancelling our Express buses under Bus Connects (link here). However, the transportation issues go further than that, and they are not going to be solved purely with buses, which have a limited capacity and can move with a limited speed on narrow winding roads or in traffic. The bottom line is that in a big city, efficient public transportation can only be solved with rail and an interconnected transportation plan, and that takes a significant upfront investment. Yes, some outlying areas will always need buses, and the way things have developed in Fingal there is certainly a demand for point-to-point commuter transportation which can be well-served by the express buses, but generally speaking the system as a whole needs an overhaul and to get more joined-up.
So, there are small and big things here.
A small thing, for example, would be connecting Rush and Lusk to the Rush & Lusk train station via segregated cycle/ footpath. This would be particularly easy to do on the Lusk side, where the way is shorter and flatter than on the Rush side. Still, it would also be relatively easy to take out from the Rush side as well, via Rogerstown. Ideally, this would also connect to Donabate/Portrane via a bridge. This is a comparatively small project, but it would instantly make the entire area, including the train stations more easily and safely accessible by bike, and alleviate traffic on the roads by getting cyclists onto a segregated path.
The big things are those that everyone knows about, like building Metro North out to Swords and upgrading the DART lines to increase their capacity (right now the DARTs, Commuters and Belfast Enterprises run on the same line and share the same choke points at Connolly and Pearse along with all the other trains).
Up to this point, public transportation in Ireland has been built on the 'day late and dollar short' principle, often planning to deliver projects that don't even meet current demand, much less demand projected into the future.
Recently, the idea that 'hey, in the future, everyone will work from home' has been floated as some kind of justification for not building public infrastructure.
However that may be...we'll probably still have to leave home for other reasons. And, as a person who does mainly work from home, I can say: that transition will be slower than you think - most people need human contact to stay motivated. Also, I still travel for work, just not according to the usual patterns.
Currently, work and education together account for less than 30% of all journeys, and even if third-level education went completely online, I still think we'd want to send kids to pre-school, primary school and secondary school.
So...even if every person in Ireland worked from home all the time (which would mean no human beings actually working in eg. retail or hospitals or in the fire station, and I suppose thus also require us to live in a fully automated utopia), that would create something like a 15% decrease in travel, which would probably be offset by population growth. And that is, as indicated, for our current frame of reference, a completely unrealistic estimate - even if work from home really started to take off right now, you'd be looking at single digit decreases in terms of impact for the foreseeable future.
So, even taking that general trend into account, we'll still need a solid public transportation infrastructure that utilizes the wheel-and-spokes design used pretty much everywhere in the world to transport people quickly to a variety of places.
It would be better for the environment and lowers the cost of doing business, so, as usual, a win-win.
I'm completely fine with leapfrogging development stages - hyperloops, personal flying drones, self-driving electric vehicles that you can order to your door via app - I'm open to it all. I keep up on these things. But then there'd need to be a concrete strategy for rolling that all out with a really aggressive implementation plan, and I don't see that happening here at the moment.
Issue #7: Public Transportation