Dan Boyle: Road To Nowhere


From top: Washington Street, Cork as it would appear under plans for a Luas-style rail system contained in the Cork Transport Strategy; Dan Boyle

So we are to have a Cork Luas (CLUAS), or maybe not. Another launch of a big spending plan spread out over a significant time span, by a government that seems intent to be the cast of the latest remake of ‘Brewster’s Billions’.

Another spin-dominated presentation that is as much about business as usual, than it is about any Brave New World of transportation.

The reasons to be cynical? This plan, despite its PR gloss, is made from the same template of all previous plans that have preceded it.

The biggest tranche of spending will continue to go to the construction of new roads, with payments front-loaded ahead of any public transport options.

The shining bauble of a CLUAS system is presented with a number of caveats. Much will depend, we are told, on whether hoped for demographic changes occur, and in whether other public transport (bus) initiatives will have taken up the slack by then.

When is then? 2031 apparently, the date it projected to begin a CLUAS system. To be finished for operation by 2040.

Twelve years from now, the twelve years that we need to change tack to avoid climate change becoming irreversible. Twelve years when we should be prioritising public transport over roads only initiatives. Après le déluge CLUAS.

As with most spin presentations the main emphasis has been out on the headline figures. €3.5 billion is to be spent over a twenty year period on this plan. This averages out at €175 million each year, a not insignificant sum.

Except that spending won’t be averaged on an annual basis. There will be very little upfront expenditure with this plan, as has been the case with all previous plans.

Early expenditure will go on scoping exercises. These will rarely be in house with consultants being brought in to reinforce the already held biases of the National Transport Authority.

Future expenditure, the longer implementation gets delayed, will see more of the anticipated budget being eaten up by construction cost inflation. Either that, or the costs get layered on. Much like we are experiencing with the National Children’s Hospital.

The belief is that new road announcements are what pleases the punters. The truth is rather different. Most voters would prefer the proper maintenance of the existing road network, especially pavements.

There is a notorious double standard in transport planning. Asphalt carpets designed largely for single user vehicles, which operate under capacity for decades after construction, are created under a build it and they will come philosophy.

Public transport infrastructure always seems to be assessed on justifying its use on existing, not future, population load.

The basis of infrastructure spending should be to provide now to create development, not to respond later, and inappropriately, try to meet uncatered for needs.

Public transport initiatives should now become the overwhelming focus of transport planning. Such projects should be prioritised for soonest possible implementation.

Brian Nolan, as Myles na gCopaleen, once wrote that the Irish roads programme was to build a series of parallel roads, with the construction equipment being left in situ, in the yet to be completed lane.

That was satire. Current transport planning thinking, and how it been historically informed, is much worst than that.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator and is standing in the Local Elections for the party in Cork on May 24.  His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

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11 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Road To Nowhere

  1. Johnny

    Any chance bit positivity you being a visitor or guest in Ireland,typical spoilt yank always moaning :)
    On a more serious note,what’s the greens position (head in sand) on decriminalizing weed ?
    A good way start is to allow it for ‘medical’ use,say have one grower allowed grow few plants for small number patients initially.That allows a micro business develop,which tends be care givers,hippies,off grid types who are more often than not environmentally friendly.After,allowing and encouraging a thriving locals small business medical ‘market’ to develop,give out a few BiG growing licenses for say 500,000 to 1 million sq.ft. of canopy.Greenhouses grows or indoor is way go,that type scale will allow a extraction business which is the future to develop,basically you get vaping and edibles,but you need lots trim/flower for extracting to be viable.
    Anyway,cmon Dan get with the times man,stop the grumpy old man schtick,go with a positive upbeat message,bit more of that yank can do attitude,good luck Dan.

      1. Donal

        have you taken into account the increased flatulence caused by higher numbers of junk food devouring munchie suffering smokers?

        1. Vanessa the Holy Face of Frilly Keane


          But is that a thing?
          Stinky weed farts
          Like mouldy scourry Guinness ones?

          1. pedeyw

            Its not the weed casuing the farts, its the copious amounts of junk food eaten while under the influence.

        2. Johnny

          It’s a billion dollar market in EU growing like crazy,as far as I know the greens can own this issue,no one else touching it and be at the forefront,SF is already heavily involved what with the RA providing security and taxing dealers…..

  2. SOQ

    A little known fact is that the original Luas was designed and half built by CIE which is of course a state owned company.

    Nowadays with the advent of the religion called outsourcing, nobody even mentions such a possibility. Another consultanty the feeding ground so.

  3. McVitty

    No cycle lanes…interesting. I wonder how they would manage up Barrack St or Patrick’s Hill.

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