Dublin City Council and An Post are banding together to try and convince delivery companies to let them take over their parcel deliveries in parts of Dublin 2.

Online orders and e-commerce, instead of being delivered by an individual courier, would instead go to an An Post delivery unit in East Wall, called an “urban consolidation centre”, says Angus Laverty, spokesperson for An Post.

From there, An Post vans would take over the delivery of the parcels around Dublin 2. Doing so would ease urban traffic, take pressure off parking and loading bays and reduce carbon emissions, says Laverty.

The pilot is part of an EU-funded project called Senator, which draws in partners from other cities, including Zaragoza in Spain.

“The pilot operation will then be assessed to gauge its usefulness as a model across the EU,” says Laverty

Whether couriers, such as Amazon, UPS, DPD or DHL, will participate isn’t clear. Spokespersons from these companies haven’t responded yet to queries sent last Thursday.

Tackling Home Deliveries

On Tuesday, Claire Byrne, a Green Party councillor, says she had three packages from three separate delivery companies delivered to her house.

“We need to be looking at every opportunity we can to kind of, minimise vehicle traffic within the city and particularly those unnecessary journeys,” she says.

Meanwhile, the council has also been trying to tackle problems with delivery vans parking in cycle lanes, on footpaths, and incorrectly in loading bays, for years.

Sometimes, delivery vans will just pull in to a cycle lane or footpath, ostensibly for a short moment, to make a delivery, says Byrne.

“That is the nature of their business, speed is their thing and efficiency is their thing as well, I suppose, but that does cause a lot of problems for pedestrians and cyclists,” she says.

It can be a struggle for delivery drivers to find a place to park near to where they need to drop off a parcel, and this can lead to parking and getting in the way of pedestrians, cyclists or other drivers.

Since 1 January 2022, 2,284 fines have been issued by An Garda Síochana for parking on footways in the Dublin Metropolitan Region, and 258 fines have been issued for parking illegally or for too long in a loading bay.

But An Garda Síochana doesn’t capture how many of these were delivery drivers.

The new Senator project is in a similar vein to last-mile delivery hubs, which the council piloted in 2017 with UPS, and saw bicycle couriers take over city-centre deliveries of retail goods for trucks and vans. In 2018, councillorsvoted through bye-laws allowing for more such delivery hubs.

The council is also into its second six-month trial of a cargo-bike scheme, launched a year ago, where it gave electric cargo bikes to small- and medium-sized businesses to cart goods around.

It makes sense to want to reduce the number of delivery vans on the streets of the city, says Kevin Donoghue, a Labour Party councillor.

“There’s 100 vans delivering 100 products, but if we could make it 50 vans delivering the same number of products, it obviously makes sense to do that,” says Donoghue.

Delivery vans on Camden Street. Photo by Claudia Dalby.

Laverty says An Post has contacted companies that operate in Dublin 2, to see if they would be involved in the project.

It would have huge benefits to the city and Dubliners, and also delivery companies, to participate and have fewer delivery companies driving around the city every day, said Laverty.

“Instead of delivering direct to a customer in the area, the participating company would hand the item over to An Post for delivery to the final customer,” he said. The basis of the project is a strategy to reduce city traffic, he said.

Danny Byrne, a Fine Gael councillor, says it sounds like it would be a positive solution when it comes to issues of congestion and delivery vans parking incorrectly around the city.

“I suppose it would cut down on the emissions of not doing so many journeys,” he says.

Byrne, the Green Party councillor, says it should be done in a just way, so that jobs of delivery drivers aren’t at risk.

Says Donoghue: “It obviously makes sense, considering the commitments around reducing road traffic in general, and addressing congestion, and moving to a less vehicle-reliant city.”

However, Donoghue thinks the project facilitates consumerism, rather than making an effort to reduce it. “We’re probably spending too much money on consumer products.”

Home deliveries have increased by 46 percent in 2020, according to a 2021 report on national transport trends by the Department of Transport, although they just make up 3 percent of all deliveries.

The project, says Donoghue, “just accepts that the current level of consumerism is okay, and that we just need to be more efficient about it”.

However, he’s not sure you could get a company to reduce the number of consumer deliveries it does, he says. “Private companies only have private profit as their concern.”

Claudia Dalby is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. She's especially interested in stories about the southside, transport, and kids in the city. Get in touch at claudia@dublininquirer.com.

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