Just Another Cynical Election Promise?

metro northAn Artist's Impression of Metro North

The thorny issue of a fit-for-purpose transport system for Swords and the Airport, seems to be further away than ever, with the announcement that any project will take up to 10 years to deliver. This is an option that is truly not acceptable to citizens of the North County, and Swords in particular, who have listened to broken promise, after broken promise by successive governments for far too long.
This comes with the news that Transport Minister, Paschal Donohoe (FG) said, “There is a valuation process underway, in relation to a number of transport options for Swords and the airport.”
While Minister Donohoe is promising a new hard-rail network, a new redesigned metro, or a combination of these, with the controversial BRT (bendy bus), it will take up to 10 years to deliver.
This news will come as a crushing blow to many local residents and business people, who are crying out for a proper light rail transport system for the area. Many feel that the government is long-fingering this project, and that this is just a cynical general election ploy, designed to garner votes for his Fine Gael colleagues in the area. Attempting to fob off the hard pressed citizens of the North County, by using the preferred light rail system as an electioneering ploy to win votes at the next general election, is one that will be judged harshly by the local electorate.
Plans for a light rail system for the airport and Swords was first mooted around 20 years ago, so taking a further 10 years to deliver this project means that it will then have spanned around six general election periods in total. When the Minister stated that, “We don’t have the foundations for the high capacity public transport system our country needs,” residents and business people alike in the area, will believe that the government is simply kicking the can down the road, and has no real desire to deliver the light rail system that is so badly needed.
The fear among most, is that we are going to be saddled with the BRT (bendy bus option), which is fine as a complementary system to a light rail system, but not as a stand alone system.
Taking ten years to deliver what has been promised by successive governments, means that an entire generation of people will have been raised on the promise of a proper light rail system for the North County. In the meantime, there seems to be an insatiable appetite for building Luas lines on the southside of the city, which beggars belief for many people living here. Projections indicate that the population of Swords will be close to 100,000 people by the time a transport system will be delivered, and there’s no guarantee that this will be the desired light rail system.
Local councillor, Darragh Butler (FF) is outraged at the foot dragging that Fine Gael are engaging in, and he told the County Leader, “When the Government shelved Metro North back in 2011 and confirmed that a review would be carried in 2015, at that time I predicted that this would be just in time to be another vague election promise. Just as they had in 2011, that they would once again dangle Metro North in front of us for the 2015/16 election,” he said. “Under no circumstances can we allow a situation where light rail is deemed good enough for the southside but in the north county, we have to make do with bendy buses instead. We want work to start on a rail solution sooner rather than later. Unfortunately for anyone in their 40’s commuting into the city centre daily at the moment, feel that we will all have retired before a rail solution is put in place at this rate,” he said.
“We should not accept BRT Swiftway with a vague promise of a rail link in the future. I fear that if BRT Swiftway is given the go ahead then that’s it, Metro is gone forever no matter what they promise us with an election on the horizon. Equally important is that under no circumstances should we allow a DART spur from Clongriffin to Dublin Airport to proceed.
“My real worry is that this Government will fob us off with the Swiftway bendy buses and this awful Dart spur. Yet again, it would be another great transport win for the southside of Dublin in that they are now connected to the airport and a major defeat for the north county.”
He concluded, “A rail link from Swords, taking in Dublin Airport and DCU to O’Connell Street, should be the only solution that we will accept and we need to make this clear to all parties when they come knocking on our doors for the 2015/16 General Election. We should not allow ourselves to be conned with bendy buses and airport solutions that better suit the southside than the north county” he concluded.