Big plans in place for Papal visit this month
2018-08-01 15:45:15 -
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Photo source: Wikimedia Commons 

Ahead of Pope Francis’s visit to Ireland later this month, the National Transport Authority (NTA), An Gardaí Síochána and public transport operators have outlined a comprehensive transportation plan and road closure system to be put in place.

The pontiff will visit Dublin and possibly Knock on the weekend of Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 August on the invitation of the World Meeting of Families, which is holding its Festival of Families at Croke Park on the Saturday.

In Dublin, the authorities are urging motorists to leave their cars at home and use public transport. Those who had been expecting to drive to and from the Phoenix Park Mass on Sunday 26 August are advised that there is no parking near the venue.

“This is the largest event Ireland has organised in nearly 40 years. It simply will not be possible to accommodate all the people who have indicated they want to travel by car to the Mass,” said Garda Superintendent Thomas Murphy.

“Therefore we are urging people to go by train, bus, coach or Luas to this event. While walking is inevitable, you will be minimising your walk to and from the event by taking public transport or private coaches.”

Supt Murphy reiterated Garda advice for people to wear suitable footwear and be prepared to walk from public transport to the Mass venue at the Papal Cross.

“Those who have booked a ticket and indicated they would like to travel by car will be contacted next week by the World Meeting of Families,” a Garda statement said. “Public transport is ready to take you to and from Phoenix Park on Sunday.”

Meanwhile, the NTA has put in place what it describes as a “robust” transport plan to cater for everyone attending the event from across the island of Ireland. 
Highlighting their readiness, NTA director of public transport services Tim Gaston said: “Every bus, train and tram is being used for this event and, for the safety of the travelling public, if you have a ticket for the Phoenix Park you will be allowed to travel for free within Dublin on the day of the event.”

Irish Rail, Dublin Bus, Luas, Bus Éireann and Go-Ahead will commence services from early morning, especially for those travelling from outside of Dublin. The NTA is also working closely with Translink in Northern Ireland to provide special rail and bus transport to the event.

In addition, Dublin Bus have created seven dedicated transport hubs which will take guests in close proximity to the park gates. Almost 1,000 city buses will be available to move some 400,000 people to and from the Mass. Meanwhile, Go-Ahead Ireland is providing 40 double-deck shuttle buses to help with transport requirements.

Both Luas lines will be operating a 6-10 minute frequency throughout the day, with a Luas operating on the green line at the Leopardstown Racecourse for the first time.

Special park and ride hubs will also be created at Leopardstown (Luas), UCD Belfield (Dublin Bus), Maynooth University (rail) and Fairyhouse Racecourse (rail).

For those travelling from outside Dublin, the NTA urges people to pre-book their train, bus or private coach tickets to avoid disappointment as networks will be stretched to capacity over the weekend.

Travel restrictions

Dublin will be subject to a ‘controlled access zone’ from 6am to 11pm on Sunday 26 August, starting at the M50 boundary.

“If you are planning on using your car to access Dublin city on Sunday 26 August then you should be aware that there will be diversions/road closures and other restrictions in place on the day,” the Garda statement said. “You will need to leave plenty of time for any journeys to and across Dublin city from 6am to 11pm on the Sunday 26 August, and pay attention to restrictions in place on the day.

“There will also be rolling restrictions on Saturday 25 August as Pope Francis visits a number of locations in Dublin city centre, which will be announced soon.”

For those who live and work near the Phoenix Park, Pro Cathedral on Marlborough Street and Capuchin Day Centre on Bow Street, a business and community liaison team is in place to handle queries. Business briefings and community meetings plus advertising in local shops are planned in the run up to the weekend.

“In addition, a package of information regarding road closures, diversions and advice for getting around that weekend will be distributed to over 125,000 homes and businesses, as well as a dedicated helpline and an office in the Phoenix Park to help answer people’s queries,” the Garda added.

“For those not attending the event, the NTA will also be operating all normal Sunday scheduled transport services. With road closures, some buses will be diverted, but customers will be informed of any changes to their route.”  

In relation to the expected event in Knock slated for the Sunday, Garda said road closures will be in place from the previous evening.

“From 6pm on Saturday the centre of Knock village will be closed except to residents. The N17 between Charlestown and Claremorris will be closed from midnight on Saturday until at least 3pm on Sunday.

“For those who live and work near Knock, a business and community liaison team is in place to handle queries, working closely with Claremorris Garda Station,” the statement added.

The latest information on the Pope’s visit can be found at www.gov.ie/popeinireland
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