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Brave new world – Dublin Bus steps into the future

DB (Dublin Bus) has finally given some target dates for the next phases of it’s modernization.
The plans themselves have, in the main, been announced several times before.
However, it seems DB feel they must announce their future plans again (and again) in the run up to the next general election, to discourage any feeling among politicians that the company is stagnant and in need of privatisation or PPP (Public/Private Partnership, which is newspeak for….privatisation!).

DB plans to increase the size of the fleet by 500 buses to bring it’s size to 1,500 buses, operating out of existing and new depots, including the new depot at Broadstone (which cost over €7 million) and planned one at Harristown, near the M50 (to cost over €50 million). DB also plan to integrate their communications system, about time, we say. Anything would be better than the current situation, where if an inspector from one garage wants to talk to a driver from another garage, he has to phone that garage to have a message sent to him! This is clearly insane, and can lead to a total breakdown in communication between inspectors and drivers and ultimately contributes to some of the distrust they hold for each other.

There are even plans for “real-time information displays” at each stop, similar to the Dart system. This has been tested in the Lucan area and will be extended to the QBCs for Ballyfermot and Clondalkin this year. Unbelievably, DB plan on having it in service across all routes by 2004 or 2005. Call me cynical, but do they expect to have less routes to worry about by then, or have they invented a new type of display that can’t be smashed in by drunken yobs?

The number of QBCs is to increase, but of course that is to be expected. It isn’t a new proposal, but another reannouncement of old news. What is new is the improvement in journey times across the city,
with the new restrictions in place at the junctions of Dawson St & Nassau St and South Great George’s
St & Dame St. When Dublin Corporation finally pull the finger out, and sort out O’Connell Street, there should be quicker journey times into the city from the Northside. If only the Corporation would take more of an interest in Public Transport and spend less time actually building needles an O’Connell St., but that’s another story.

There are some worrying plans to ‘reorganise’ the ticketing system to reduce
the number and variety of ticket options. It’s bad enough that they got rid of 10 journey tickets, what else have they got in mind for us? I dread to think. While the Rambler tickers are, of course, useful for people who use the bus every day, and know they are going to be using it on 5 or 7 consecutive days, they are of no use to irregular bus users, who can be put off by the need for exact change every time they board.

BUSRAGE calls for the re-introduction of 10 journey tickets. They would be a valuable aid to getting people out of their cars and onto the bus.

The ticketing arrangement will change yet again, of course, at the end of 2002 (they announced this last December), as DB plan to roll out the new smart-card system. This will link up with the Luas and Dart ticket systems. If the tickets are genuinely ‘smart’ this could actually be a useful development.

BUSRAGE applauds any improvements which Dublin Bus, Dublin Corporation and the Government make to the plight of Dublin’s commuters. However, we smell a rat when these plans are announced with barely any mention of the topic of privatisation or the proposals to contract out and sell many routes. Dublin Bus employees are telling us privately that they are up in arms about some of these plans, and that industrial action may be in the cards over the next year.

We hope it doesn’t come to that, and that whatever happens Dublin Bus is retained in a form where it can, first and foremost, perform it’s public service duties on all it’s routes, from the likes of the profitable 46a all the way
to it’s poor cousin, the 75. Unfortunately, if the plans for the modernization of DBs infrastructure go the way of so many others we could be in for another few years of standing in the pissing rain waiting for our ride home.

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