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Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
Rush Hour

Will private cars be able to use the empty bus lanes tomorrow?

If you’re planning a commute in a car tomorrow morning, it might not be any easier than normal.

Updated 2.07pm

DRIVERS WITH DUBLIN Bus and Bus Éireann are due to take to the picket lines tomorrow unless an eleventh-hour agreement is reached.

This means rail services will be busier, cycle lanes a bit more clogged, but most importantly for motorists – the bus lanes empty.

But private car drivers won’t be able to use these to alleviate the heavier-than-normal rush hour traffic.

In one quick sentence, Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe dashed the hopes of those who will be behind the wheel tomorrow. Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, he said:

No, bus lanes are preserved for public transport.

Private cars were allow to use bus lanes during strikes in 2000, but they have remained closed during industrial action since.

However, one Fianna Fáil councillor will this morning write to the Assistant Garda Commissioner in charge of Dublin, John Twomey, calling for him to open up the lanes to normal traffic in the capital.

Councillor Daithí de Róiste said in a statement released this morning that a decision this will need to be made as soon as possible:

Up to now, the Gardaí have said that Bus lanes will remain in operation for the times designated by Road Traffic Regulations. The decision to open them is solely a matter for the Guards so I would encourage them to make the decision to open them up early today, so that commuters and those travelling across the city can make arrangements, safe in the knowledge that authorities are doing their utmost to alleviate delays.

In a statement this afternoon, gardaí said “in consultation with Dublin City Council and other stakeholders would like to advise road users that the bus lanes will operate as normal” during the strike.

“Gardai are advising motorists to allow extra time when planning their journey during the planned  bus strike,” the statement added.

Taxis and privately-owned public transport – of which there is likely to be a higher volume of tomorrow – will still be able to use these lanes, along with emergency vehicles and controversially cars carrying a Government minister, the Attorney General, or the Ceann Comhairle.

This was introduced in 2011, after the Government withdrew State cars from service in a cost-saving measure meaning they were now driven by civilians and not gardaí. This meant the vehicles were not subject to the same traffic and travel exemptions.

Plan your journey: Bank holiday transport chaos begins tomorrow as bus drivers strike >

Read: Gardaí CAN use bus lanes outside of emergencies (but they don’t want to shout about it) >

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