Two TDs and a local city counsellor have voiced their concern over city-wide plans to redesign Dublin’s bus network, highlighting the impact the changes could have on Dublin North West residents’ ability to access Beaumont Hospital and other public healthcare facilities.

The new plans, aimed at increasing the frequency and efficiency of the bus network in Dublin, will have a detrimental effect on some citizens – including the elderly, it has been claimed.

“The communities that are served by a number of existing routes that pass through the constituency of Dublin North West have the potential to be severely negatively impacted by the proposed Bus Connects plan,” Roisin Shortall, joint leader of the Social Democrat party and TD for Dublin North West told us in a written submission.

Shorthall, a TD for Dublin North West and former Minister of State for Primary Care highlighted the discontinuation of the 17a orbital route as a “glaring oversight” of the proposed plans. The route currently runs from Blanchardstown to Kilbarrack, through Finglas, Ballymun, Santry and Coolock, and crucially, through Beaumont Hospital.

Dublin North West is the only constituency in Dublin that relies solely on buses as a means of public transport, Shorthall pointed out.

This fact was also alluded to by local Fianna Fail Dublin City Counsellor Paul McAuliffe, who, also in a written submission, confirmed that he is opposing the Bus Connects plan and is campaigning for bus services to remain as they are now.

“Given that the much-vaunted Metro North project has not yet materialised in a tangible way, it is vital that the current bus network is maintained and improved for local people”, the counsellor explained.

Any bus system should be as easy as possible for the elderly to understand, McAuliffe continued, also citing concerns about disability access and the impact of increased traffic on centralised routes to pregnant women and those in need of assistance while travelling.

McAuliffe expanded on Shorthall’s assertation that the 17a route provides vital access to Beaumont Hospital, pointing out that at present the route is the only one that serves Blanchardstown’s Connolly Hospital and Cappagh Hospital in Finglas too.

In literature circulated throughout the local area, Noel Rock, Fine Gael TD for Dublin North West stated that he would “strongly urge” residents to submit any concerns they had to Bus Connects.

Established as a Department of Transport initiative, Bus Connects aims to increase the efficiency of Dublin Bus routes throughout the city by 2020 and emphasises the need for more frequent services and a greater number of orbital routes (routes not passing through the city centre).

Since being revealed to the public at the beginning of Summer, feedback to the plans has been provided by more than 30,000 people. Submissions were made through busconnects.ie. The website now states that the period for public to submit feedback has elapsed. Bus Connects entered a 12-week public consultation period in July 2018 and ended on 28 September. The findings of the consultation process have yet to be published.