Gee, is global culture really that predictable nowadays? It sounds as if you can describe a city such as Dublin from across the Atlantic, better than most people I know here can. The city as designed for automobiles. Wow. So close, to what Dublin is. Thanks to an inflated importance of the traffic engineer, and a lack of architects or other 'spatial designers' being involved in the debate. If there even was a debate. As a general point, and to make debate possible at all - I feel strongly that architects should be encouraged while in school to understand how code affects the environment we live in. Visa versa, I think that people educated in writting code for urban places, should have a basic appreciation how design can somehow make it all fit together. You do need the designer, otherwise it is pointless. There are certain things you cannot 'code' your way around. Otherwise, you are left with gaps, where things should join up. Take the following for instance,
In the historic cores the parking ratios are less and everyone complains about the lack of parking. Usually some behemoth shopping center(s) is sitting close serving the core business of the community and providing lots of free parking.
I think that is why projects like the LUAS, lightrail system here in Dublin have gained such a position of importance in the recent years - to somehow try and redress the imbalance created by the suburban betemoth shopping centre, and make city cores accessbile once more. As if the city core, is a place where all people should want to go. Dublin bus company failed to do anything much, after decades of campaigning, advertising and influence over the operation of the city. Today, Dublin bus has competition in the form of a new younger upstart, the Railway Procurement Ajency or RPA, for short. Which has become a very sexy and powerful institution in its own right, with its own attitude and way of doing things. The unfortunate thing about 'competition' between these too gorillas, is that wherever light rail stations are made, you can associate that with a tendency for Dublin bus to pull out of the area, and leave it all to the light rail. They are afraid of direct confrontation, and have become territorial with each other. Each one sticking to areas, where they can play up their own advantages. This seems the exact opposite to what you want. As pointed out by other posters here on the thread - you do need bus and rail systems interlocking with each one another, in loving, cooperative embraces. Rolling gently about in the dense undergrowth of urbanity, like two mating gorillas, as opposed to territorial competitors. To obtain the most efficient and best overall use from public investment in transportation. In a time of rising inflation, Ireland has a duty to cooperate when and where possible.
It needs to be pointed out, that one function of LUAS and Dublin bus has been allowed to overshadow all others. Over zealous use of PR to wage war on both sides. The apparent 'linking' of shoppers to the various retail centres. This one function, has been 'done to death', especially around the holiday season, for 'publicity' reasons. The over-emphasis on that function, has prevented people from looking much deeper into the possibilities presented by transportation in our city, of allowing the debate to take place. Emphasising one particular 'cool' function of transportation above others. Going to high street at weekends, or this-centre-or-that, to spend your weeks earnings on 'all new shit'. This is really a debasement of the concept of public transportation and the very people who want to use it. It displays a depressing Irish characteristic, of seeing everything from behind the wheel of an automobile. In Dublin city, we are bringing thousands of foreign workers in every year. We thank them for coming here, by giving them a pretty useless transportation system. Sometimes, with a loosy attitude towards service to boot. In Ireland, we are guilty of having blinkers to transportation. The car is for getting to work, while the LUAS or bus is a cool novelty item, for going to parties in the evening or going shopping at weekends. This is an over-simplification of the whole problem, I feel. What is lacking in Ireland now, is an organisation or individual with real insight, into how different modes of transport need to fit together.
Yeah, the Dublin bus company has been around while. In later day, the bus service would have tried to fill a similar role to that of light rail now - trying to link up shoppers with their favourite high street. As a result of that narrow-ness of thinking, we have a series of bus-passges which are designed to carry people from the car-oriented suburb, into the high street. Like any project, transportation being no different - the important thing seems to be getting people to work and think as a team, rather than all pulling in all different ways. What we do have is governments who regularly use transportation to orchestrate large scale PR, on TV, on radio and in print. I began this thread to mention the behaviour of the taxi driving community in Foster Place, trying to establish their iron grip on that territory. I have discussed the personal automobile, the surburban shopping centre, Dublin bus and LUAS light rail system. I think you can agree, that urban transportation resembles a study into a gorilla behaviour in the jungle, the hard-fought battle for survival.
Starbucks likes to nest among these places on corners as well as at transit locations.
I also noticed something with 'record' stores - (gee, I still call them record stores, even though they are really CD stores nowadays) sometimes when in the city centres - the big HMV idea doesn't work at all. I notice where they have stores on the main streets here - selling thousands of CDs and DVDs, the que at the counter is a mile long. Just walk down the road, and drop into a small store and you can usually get what you want, without the que. So it isn't always handy to be big in the music retail game. I mean, if you are even inside the HMV store itself, and are waiting in a que, for ten minutes to get to a counter - that is just not fun to me. And being big, on main street, they are probably losing business as a result. Because they have to staff the place, just the same, on slow days. While on busy days, the existing staff aren't able to cope with the sudden surge in customer volumes. That is why I think online, is probably suited to selling music - because digital network bandwidth is the only thing able to cope with surges and drops in customer demand.
While I am on the topic, of all things global, I might as well mention construction too. Which appears to be going the way of prefabrication and about getting greater economy of scale, with more predictable quality/costs/timescales. The building industry here in Ireland was organised around a lot of separate trades for a long, long time. This makes projects hard to schedule and predict in terms of time and cost. You are seeing a lot of projects, re-designed to avoid, bottlenecks and time overruns. We will probably end up with a different Irish construction industry than before.
Brian O' Hanlon.