‘Clean tech’ Dublin buses on way amid €1bn overhaul

29 May 2017

Dublin Bus is going green. Image: Tupungato/Shutterstock

Ireland’s bid to become a more sustainable country has proved sluggish to date, though the latest Dublin transport initiative shows that that may be changing.

Every new project needs a name. BusConnects is the title given to an ambitious €1bn initiative to overhaul public transport in the Irish capital.

The programme launched today (29 May), with nine targets to achieve over the coming few years.

Future Human

Included in these are the introduction of electric buses, an entirely cashless payment system, an increased number of bus stops –with digital information provided at each – and something called ‘Bus Rapid Transit’.

Dublin Bus

Dublin Bus & Bus Éireann

Armed with €300m from 2015’s capital plan, and with a further €700m required to finish the job, Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority (NTA), said investing in buses, rather than trains, was the best way forward for Dublin.

Ireland faces significant annual fees should it fail to reach EU-assigned sustainable energy targets by the end of the decade, something looking more and more likely of late. Fewer cars and more bicycles, buses, trams and trains would be a decent way to improve on this.

“Dublin is a low-density city, which means that very few areas of Dublin have the size and concentration of population to support rail-based public transport,” said Graham.

“For most areas, bus transport represents the best public transport solution. In any case, rail projects typically have lead-in times of eight to 10 years and, with congestion continuing to worsen every month, more immediate solutions are required.”

Going green

These solutions will see green-energy buses on the streets by 2018. The NTA reportedly refused a previous application by Dublin Bus to trial hybrid buses in 2016 due to a lack of funding.

That has changed with BusConnects, a programme Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, TD, is behind.

“The proposals being put forward today can potentially transform Dublin’s bus system in a fundamental way, so that when it comes to speed, punctuality, reliability and convenience, journeys by bus can be better than ever before,” he said.

“BusConnects will mean more people travelling by bus and will allow bus commuting to become a more viable and attractive choice for employees, families, students, shoppers and visitors.”

The duo feel an increase of bus passenger numbers of “at least” 50pc is possible, which would presumably see a dramatic reduction in the number of cars on the road.

“This plan also aims to make cycling more attractive to all, which can have many positive impacts, meaning that using the bus or bike rather than the car to get around, will make more sense for more people,” said Ross.

Clean air

A recent study from Imperial College London suggests that diesel fumes trigger respiratory reflexes, which could potentially worsen underlying conditions such as asthma.

The report claims that by-products from burning diesel fuel – called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – directly stimulate nerves in the lungs, causing a reflex response in the airways. For cyclists, it’s particularly troubling, with daily commutes often involving the direct inhalation of fumes from cars.

“In major European cities […] we are already exceeding the recommended levels for air pollution, and these findings provide another reason why we need to curb these levels,” said Prof Maria Belvisi, one of the authors of the study.

Dublin Bus is going green. Image: Tupungato/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic