Traffic chaos in Dublin

NEW traffic policies in Dublin must be approved by 43 separate state agencies before being adopted, sparking fears the system is being overrun by quangos.

The situation has been criticised for seriously delaying important traffic initiatives so that often irrelevant bodies can give them their seal of approval.

The claim comes on foot of the recent announcement that the new Dublin Transport Authority (DTA) will be replaced by a larger National Transportation Authority (NTA). That move has been denounced by detractors who say Dublin qualifies for its own dedicated body.

Labour councillor Dermot Lacey said traffic policy should fall to the office of the directly elected mayor of Dublin, alongside the Dublin regional authority.

As things are, he said, policies can be drastically delayed during their process through a variety of agencies from transportation bodies such as Irish Rail and Dublin Bus to the Garda, the Office of Public Works, the Railway Procurement Agency, the Dublin Port Company and even Waterways Ireland.

The entire list of those bodies, which have varying degrees of involvement in such decisions, was drafted by Dublin's former director of traffic, Eoin Keegan.

"It means that we never take decisions; it takes forever," said Lacey. "You could be talking about years. For example, the integrated bus ticket system: that is about 12 years since it began to be discussed and that is because of the internal squabble between transport providers. It comes down to turf wars.

"Everything is delayed. When we agree on double yellow lines, for example, the garda commissioner has to sign off on it, and why? What is his authority to decide whether or not Rathgar Avenue needs double yellow lines?"

Lacey believes the responsibility should fall on the new directly elected mayor of the city when the position comes into effect, and he criticised the decision to subsume the DTA into the NTA.

"On one level some say that that might make sense – less quangos and that – but on the other hand Dublin is different and you can't have the same body running transportation in Leitrim as in Dublin. It's chalk and cheese," he said.

However, the Department of Transport played down concerns, saying the DTA was simply being expanded and the plan would not affect what goes on in Dublin. In a statement, it said it was merely an appropriate name change and Dublin's issues "will be addressed by the NTA in exactly the same way".