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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 12 December, 2018
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Transport Minister Shane Ross criticised for stating that BusConnects 'isn't under his remit'

The minister said he was attempting to explain that he isn’t in charge of details of the plan.

Transport Minister Shane Ross.
Transport Minister Shane Ross.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

TRANSPORT MINISTER SHANE Ross has defended himself this morning for comments attributed to him from a local meeting in which he said that the BusConnects plan is not part of his job. 

The BusConnects plan is a radical redesign of the Dublin Bus route network that is due to take effect in 2020.

The plan’s designers say that it will cut commuting times but some locals have voiced concerns over plans to cut current routes and the requirement that the size some people’s front gardens may be reduced as a result

Ross has previously argued in favour of the BusConnects plan but sought to distance himself from the proposals at a community meeting in his constituency on Wednesday. 

The Irish Times reported that Ross was speaking at the AGM of the Nutgrove Loreto Community Association and that he told those present that he had nothing to with the BusConnnects project.

One of those present at the meeting, Fianna Fáil councillor Shay Brennan, said that his comments were “astonishing”.

Brennan told TheJournal.ie that Ross brought up the BusConnects plan himself, telling those presents that he would not be taking questions about the project but that he planned to make a public submission.

“It was astonishing. Such remarks coming from a minister who, whether likes it or not, clearly is in charge of transport policy,” Brennan said.

He said he wouldn’t be taking questions about BusConnects and that it didn’t come under his remit but that he’d be making a public submission.

The proposals are currently part of a public consultation phase by the National Transport Authority (NTA) that will finish at the end of next week. 

Earlier that day in the Dáil, Ross had hailed the potential of the BusConnects plan, saying that it will:

enable more people to travel by bus than ever before, and allow bus commuting to become a viable and attractive choice for employees, students, shoppers and visitors.

Speaking this morning on Newstalk Breakfast, public transport planner Jarrett Walker, who helped design the BusConnects project, said the Department of Transport was kept updated during the design process. 

He said that Ross “was certainly there next to us when we announced it” but may not have been briefed on an ongoing basis.

“I think it’s understandable that he delegated that to the NTA staff who are the experts in that and we designed the plan around the table with NTA and Dublin Bus and staff from the councils,” he said. 

Transport Minister

Addressing criticism of him this morning, Minister Ross told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke that reports of the meeting are accurate but that he was attempting to tell his constituents that he is not responsible for the detail of the BusConnects plan.  

“Their recollection is broadly true but specifically maybe not in accordance with mine. When I got up to speak at the meeting there was an enormous map of the BusConnects plan on the table there. So it was obviously a matter for discussion,” Ross said. 

What I wanted to make absolutely clear was that, yes, I do make government policy on BusConnects, bus and transport, of course I do that. But don’t ask me questions about the detail of this map in front of me, because I don’t micromanage the issues. 

But Ross’ distancing of himself from the plans has been criticised by opposition politicians. Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys said that the minister is “asleep at the wheel”.

“Minister Ross seems to have a gross misunderstanding of his role if he believes the largest review of public transport seen in Dublin in decades has ‘nothing to do with him’,” Humphreys said.

“It is worth noting that the minister’s distancing of himself from the BusConnects plan comes after a day of severe criticism for the plan in Dáil Éireann. I would ask the question that if it is not the job of the minister for transport, who in the cabinet is responsible?”

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Rónán Duffy

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