NTA has today published details of expenditure on BusConnects Dublin since 2018.
BusConnects Dublin is a major programme of investment, the aim of which is to transform the overall bus system in Dublin, and to that end, €2,000 million has been allocated under the National Development Plan for the implementation of the plans.
The programme includes, among other things, the redesign of the overall bus network for the Dublin region, investment in infrastructure along 16 core bus corridors delivering over 200 kilometres of bus lanes and safe cycling facilities, plus the introduction of Next Generation Ticketing.
Transport infrastructure and investment projects on this scale involve a planning and design stage, where the detailed designs of the relevant projects are developed, progressed, amended and finalised. This is an essential phase without which properly developed, robust, high quality and safe designs to take forward to planning consent, and then to construction, would not be available.
Without undertaking these activities these projects simply could not be progressed to the implementation stage. The planning and design of a large infrastructure and investment project like BusConnects takes several years, and involves the input of hundreds of people in order to develop the designs to the level required to bring them to physical delivery.
In the case of BusConnects, this requires the development of engineering designs of multiple roads, bridges, retaining walls, pavements, drainage, lighting, services, landscaping, traffic signalling, signage and similar, resulting in thousands of detailed engineering drawings defining and describing every aspects of the projects.
This work also involves undertaking multiple detailed topographical, geotechnical, utility, traffic and environmental surveys, across a wide geographical area.
It also requires the preparation and development of detailed and comprehensive environmental assessment documentation, and other documentation required for the planning process.
Procurement of construction services must also be undertaken as part of the planning and design phase, and in advance of that, detailed construction contracts running to thousands of pages and incorporating thousands of design drawings need to be prepared.
Ensuring that members of the public, public representatives and other stakeholders are fully informed about the plans is another essential aspect of the process. It is also vital that they are given an opportunity to genuinely engage with the process so that they can provide feedback, articulate concerns and suggest improvements. For the NTA this involves: the production, distribution and promotion of materials such as plans, revisions and updates, including versions in both official languages, and versions that are fully accessible. It also involves setting up public information and stakeholder engagement events; meeting directly with members of local communities; producing local documentation; building and maintaining websites; engaging with the public on social media and so on.
For the most part this work relies on a specialised skill set that is required for a set period of time on a project-specific basis. Given the uniqueness of large mega-projects like BusConnects, MetroLink and the DART+ Programmes, it is not feasible for any single agency to retain the spectrum of specialised engineers, planners and other experts required to develop and deliver such international scale transport infrastructure projects.
BusConnects is a critical element of the Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016 – 2035 and is provided for in national policies such as the National Development Plan, the Climate Action Plan, and the 2020 Programme for Government.