I've been meaning to post this for some time now, but witnessing a particular movement on Saturday has finally confirmed my belief that Suffolk Street is dangerously overloaded in terms of the number of bus stopping movements that take place within a small and very confined physical area.
The large number of routes stopping there is such that the distinction between the two different stops is hard to maintain, and the street is often packed with buses seeking a bit of kerbspace in which to load/unload. The narrow pavements make the problem worse too, as the number of passengers waiting and moving around each other is quite large.
On Saturday I saw a far from rare situation in which many of the elements which contributed to the tragedy at Wellington Quay were in place.
An Aircoach and a Dublin Bus were beside the pavement loading at the forward of the two stops, while about two thirds of a bus length back a Bus Eireann 100X coach was loading for Dundalk. A 46A came along the outside of the BE vehicle, and unable to fit into the space, stopped in the outside lane to let a lot of people off, while a crowd of some dozen or so surged forward onto the road to board it.
At this point, I rather hoped that the BE coach was in neutral with the parking brake on, because otherwise those getting on and off the 46A were boxed in on three sides by a wall of buses, and the narrow pavement was thronging with people. If one single point of failure (driver or vehicle) caused the BE coach to move forward unexpectedly, there would have been no way for these people to get out of the way.
Of course nothing untoward happened. Nothing does, 9,999 times out of 10,000. But by not having proper loading space in place, the layers of safety which prevent that 1 in ten thousand event are stripped away.
Apart from the safety aspect, which worries me, it must be hell from drivers to operate through. It's not that pleasent for the passengers either, too little space, hard to know where your bus will pull up, if it will be at the stop, or do you need to run back past other buses to board it.
This is the kind of problem that the NTA should be looking at and adressing.
So what could we do, accepting that we don't want to remove the routes themselves?
First off, we should remove the stops for tour buses and slow loading coaches (DB, Dualway, Aircoach and BE) from Suffolk Street. Perhaps there could be a rearrangment of stops in Dawson Street, so instead of many buses stopping wtice, they stop once, and a stop at the bottom could be freed up for the coach and tour services.
Priority for stopping space should be given to the cross-city routes, perhaps the 15A/B could be rerouted via Westland Row?
I'm sure the brains at the NTA could come up with a solution, but believe me, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.