With a Green New Deal and a fresh approach, the city council elected this June can draw down millions for public transport. Better city centre access and significant employment will result from a more innovative approach. The new Limerick City Council, due to be elected this June, can draw down the €20 million that has been set aside to enhance public transport, according to James Nix, candidate on the northside for the Green Party. Despite cutbacks, there is €20 million Limerick has not availed of in the past because of an impasse over public transport plans. Drawing down this funding rests on a more innovative city council being returned in the June elections.
The Green Party has put forward a solution to the impasse that has dogged public transport for the past five years and the first proposal has already been accepted. First proposed by James Nix and his colleagues in March 2008, the key to the new approach is city centre priority, enabling public transport to take the space of vehicles drawn out of the city with the opening of the new tunnel under the Shannon next year.
Approval is already in place for the first part of the Green Party plan – an enhancement programme to reduce journey times for public transport between the Regional Maternity Hospital on the Ennis Road and Brown Thomas on O’Connell Street. Traffic light priority over Sarsfield Bridge together with better lane use on Sarsfield Street are central to the proposal. This approach can be replicated on a number of streets, making access easier to the city centre, boosting footfall and helping our urban core. James says he looks forward to making further progress but is relying on voters in the city’s North Ward. If new vision comes with a newly-elected council, William Street, Gerald Griffin Street, Roches Street, and Henry Street can all benefit. New shelters are required with better timetable information. We also need to design a network with high-frequency, well-known, routes in parallel with smaller buses providing more dedicated services (see map).
The benefits of €4 million spent in the local economy in each of the next five years are significant. And the opportunity offered by the opening of the new tunnel under the Shannon next year cannot be wasted, says James. With vehicles drawn out of the city street enhancements can be coupled with bus improvements. While the city councils of Cork and Dublin were able to find the innovation solutions to draw down funding for their cities over the last five years, the impasse in Limerick saw public transport suffer, a situation we need to turn around. Turning away a multi-million euro sum year after year for failing to agree a plan is not a situation we can allow to continue. With many families shedding second cars and coming to rely more and more on public transport, as well as an ageing population, workable public transport is needed more every day.