Following the governments decision to increase fares on bus and rail services but not to increase the state’s subvention of public transport which, at 25%, is the lowest in the western world, Dublin Bus have followed Bus Eireann’s recent fare increases, by putting up all fares on it’s services by 5¢. The government have announced that we can expect annual increases in transport fares “in line with inflation” from now on. Iarnród Éireann have also announced fare increases of an average of 3.2%.
This represents yet another excuse for people to abandon public transport in favour of the private car, and coupled with the government’s much hyped announcements for the state road building programme it shows once more how inconsistent and backward the government’s transport policy really is. There is no evidence of Seamus Brennan understanding the importance of Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann and Iarnród Éireann to the economic health of Ireland. By punishing users of public transport with yet another fare increase, while rewarding car drivers with wider and longer motorways, he sends all the wrong signals to Irish commuters, and once more betrays the governments thatcherite view that buses are for “poor people”. An Alternative Fare Structure
So, what now for an efficient Dublin Bus fare structure? As any driver will tell you, the current structure of no less than 8 different adult fares for regular travel, not to mention several different fares for children and feeder services, delays buses travelling through Dublin just as much as the traffic chaos. It’s bad enough that a bus has to fight through road works, cars parked in bus lanes with no intervention from Dublin City Council, and the huge number of private vehicles, but when the bus does get to a stop it has to deal with 30 people digging into their pockets trying to find 5¢ pieces.
What needs to happen is an increase in state subvention and a decrease in fares. BUSRAGE proposes that all journeys less then 23 stages be set at €1, with journey’s longer than that (including Outer Suburban fares) costing €2. That same 30 people would have no trouble boarding quickly, as both fares result in a single coin being required. This would result in less cash revenue for Dublin Bus, but the function of public transport is not to make a profit, it’s to get people around quickly and efficiently so the state as a whole may reap the economic benefits.
Any delays due to pocket fumblers would be rare and less tolerated once the public got used to the simplified fare system. Money lost by the adoption of this system should be reimbursed to Dublin Bus from state coffers, since the economy would see great benefit by the almost overnight improvement in the capital’s bus service. Any measure that improves the quality of service on Dublin Bus should be welcomed by the government
Consultants Still Calling The Shots
It’s unlikely that the current government would see the wisdom of such a system, having just spent €27M on yet another consultants report on integrated ticketing which came back and reported that we needed to, surprise surprise, spend a even more money on a brand new all singing, all dancing integrated ticketing scheme.
For a cup of tea and a sandwich we could told Seamus, and anybody else who would care to listen, that we mearly need to extend the ticketing system used by Dublin Bus, to Luas and Bus Eireann, since it is already compatible with Iarnrod Eireann’s system. There is no need to waste money on a smart-card system, when bits of cardboard with magnetic strips do the job just fine. Just ask the commuters of Paris or Brussels, cities which operate efficient and integrated multi-modal public transport systems based on those little bits of cardboard costing €1 each. Their public transport companies don’t make a profit either, but of course that’s not what their purpose is.