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Dublin: Teaching an Old City New Tricks

A month ago or so I had the opportunity to visit Dublin an old city that in recent years has reinvented itself as a modern, cosmopolitan metropolis. While I didn’t have the opportunity explore the country by rail (somewhat thankfully considering that a bridge collapsed the week after my visit) I was able to experience Dublin’s new transport system. Some highlights are presented below.

LUAS Red Line

LUAS Red Line

Ireland, like the United States, once boasted a relatively complete rail network. Today, Ireland national rail network is about 1/3 the size it was in its peak in the 1920’s. Like many US cities, Dublin once boasted an extensive tram network, with over 30 routes along 60+ miles of track. The fully electrified system, one of the largest in the world, was dismantled and fully replaced by bus service by 1949. The map below depicts Dublin’s tram system at its peak in 1922.

Dublin Tram Network (c. 1922) - Via Wikipedia

Dublin Tram Network (c. 1922) - Via Wikipedia

Today, Dublin features five suburban rail lines, the most famous of which has been branded the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit), and operates with near Metro-like frequency (15-20 minutes off peak.) The first light-rail/Tram line of the system dubbed LUAS, opened in June 2004, providing local service from St. Stephen’s Green to Sandyford (10km). In September of 2004 the second LUAS line, the red line, commenced operation linking Connolly Station to central Tallaght, a 15km route. The two lines operate independent of each other and feature minimal intermodal connectivity with the suburban rail. As such, the tram system still garners 90,000 daily riders while DART attracts approximately 80,000 more.

LUAS Green Line at St. Stephen's Green

LUAS Green Line at St. Stephen's Green

It’s important to note that Dublin’s Transport system is privately operated and fully profitable. The city’s former growth, dense and mixed use, is well suited for public transportation. Meanwhile, the city is working to curb sprawl and the destructive growth that has taken place since the dismantling of the tram network. Highlighted below are some of the new municipal planning initiatives that have been undertaken to revive Dublin. You’ll notice that much of the work is oriented towards reclaiming street space by curtailing the vehicular environment.

Traffic Calming Measures

Traffic Calming Measures

Above, notice the traffic calming measures implemented along this street. The use of chicanes lowers vehicular speeds in pedestrian areas. A truncated street serves dual purposes, opening up street space for pedestrians and as a loading zone in the early morning hours. The painted pavement (under the delivery truck) serves as a reminder to motorists of the pedestrian zone.

Dublin's Temple Bar Neighborhood

Dublin's Temple Bar Neighborhood

Above, a perfect example of how traffic flow should be restricted by truncating streets to divert traffic from a popular pedestrian thoroughfare. The end benefits are twofold: Traffic is slowed in pedestrian spaces and public space are established in neighborhoods without vacant land on which to work with.

A typical Main Avenue

A typical Main Avenue

A typical  avenue in Dublin allots tight space to a number of modes. Dublin’s extensive bus network operates largely along a dedicated bus lane system throughout the city center. While the sidewalk space is narrower than what would be ideal, bollards are utilized to protect pedestrians from motorized activity.

Cyclists at St. Stephen's Green

Cyclists at St. Stephen's Green

Dublin's New Bicycle Sharing Service

Dublin's New Bicycle Sharing Service

Slated to open this month, I was able to get a “sneak peak” at many of the new bicycle sharing facilities popping up all over the city. The city already has a decent bicycle lane network a requisite compliment for any sharing system.

Dublin's Black Gold

Dublin's Black Gold

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2 Comments

  1. Felipe Azenha says:

    Pretty sweet! How about a pub review too?

  2. Mike Lydon says:

    Good coverage, Gabe. I have spent quite a bit of time walking around the old country, including Dublin, which is one of my favorite cities-if not other reason than its scale. The LUAS is indeed modern, attractive, and easy to use.I hope Dubliners take to the streets on the bike system as readily as they have in Paris…it will totally transform the city.

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