government and politics

Dublin City councillors finally notice Dublin Transport Authority on horizon

Two months after it was announced, Dublin’s councillors have finally woken up to the fact that all of their transport powers, and some of their planning ones too, are being transferred to the new Dublin Transport Authority (DTA).

Even though all the detail of the DTA was available in the text of the bill in April apparently none of the councillors bothered to read it. What has awoken them from their slumber is a report from their director of traffic, Michael Phillips, who has told them that “…the DTA was seeking to interfere unduly in council business without giving councillors adequate representation.”, or, to put it another way, “feck this lads, I’m out of a job, what are we going to do?”

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general issues

Scrap road signs, save lives says Dublin Transportation Office

Having spent €200,000 on traffic signs that were critised by all and sundry (apart from us, we were uncharacteristically nice about them) and then more money replacing them, the Dublin Transportation Office (DTO) now wants to remove them.

While the plans to establish the Dublin Transport Authority move along at a pace akin to a Dublin bus, it’s predecessor, the DTO, is busy making noise.

We wouldn’t dare suggest that the people running the DTO are after top jobs in the new authority, but some of the things coming from them of late are a tad avent-garde, to say the very least.

It’s not just the street signs that, current DTO chief, John Henry is proposing to remove, but also the footpaths and all road markings. There’s no mention in the interview if this includes bus stops or even bus lanes, of which there are not enough as it stands.

Another idea being floated yet again and presented as new is to allow trams priority at traffic lights. That sounds very nice for tram users, but what about the buses? Dublin Bus carry far more passengers than the Luas system ever will, why not give our buses priority at the lights? In fact, what not let our buses share road space with the trams?

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government and politics

Irish Government mulls cuts in transport spending

The Sunday Business Post is reporting that the new Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, is considering making cuts in spending for the National Development Plan, connecting economic growth (or lack of it) to spending on key projects like transport improvements.

Is Transport21 part of the NDP or considered a separate entity in this context? We’re not sure, but this doesn’t sound good. When are the powers-that-be going to realise that you need to spend money to make money?

Instead of cutting spending on transport during a downturn we need to increase it – history shows that key infrastructure projects can be an engine for growth in an economy. And that’s leaving aside the most obvious point, the more time people spend getting to work means the less time is being spent energising the economy. In the market driven society the Government seem keen for us to live in, does it make any sense to have all your consumers and workers sitting in gridlock for hours each day?

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general issues

Report reviews the current state of reviewing reports about reviews

The Irish Times have picked up on something we’ve been banging on about for a while, namely the obsession in this country with continually reviewing and reviewing infrastructure plans, without actually doing any of it.

Repeated reviews and constant consultations have halted progress and stifled innovation in our transport network, writes Tim O’Brien

ON MONDAY May 12th, the Department of Transport announced the end of public consultation on its sustainable Travel and Transport Action Plan. On Monday May 19th, the Minister, Noel Dempsey, announced the start of a period of public consultation on the Future of Transport in Dublin.

In the week between, the Dublin Transportation Office (DTO) called for the public to engage in consultation on its new Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow) for the period up to 2030.

The new DTO strategy will replace the DTO Platform for Change 2000-2016. The Platform for Change is similar, but not the same, as the Dublin elements in yet another policy document: Transport 21.

Confused? Well you ought to be. The State’s policy in relation to air and sea ports, road and rail plans, even road safety strategies and the encompassing legislative framework is, and has been for a decade, beset by review and counter review.

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industrial action

Irish Rail service hit by industrial action

But would there be enough drivers to run a full service even without a strike?

In addition to the ongoing problems due to Iarnród Éireann rolling out a timetable with not enough drivers to drive the trains, and then blaming the drivers for not driving the additional trains on their time off, there are now problems in the training of new drivers who are presumably intended to drive these additional trains.

The question is, has Iarnród Éireann engineered the current dispute to draw attention away from the timetabling problem? In any case, this means significant inconvenience for passengers as rail services in Ireland today, and over the weekend, are hit by cancellations.

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car free

Government furiously backpeddles on Dublin City car ban

It looks like the Dublin traffic ban kite flying exercise is going to be even more short lived than we first thought, with it now being delayed till 2011. And that is assuming that the projects scheduled to begin that year even happen at all.

There is further talk of a congestion charge, but of course that cannot occur without significant (and visible) public transport improvements. As it stands it is not something that would survive a mauling from the motoring public.

If we were cynics we would see all these recent announcements from various, usually silent, officials as having little to do with improving the transport situation in Dublin and much to do with posturing in order to secure places on the board of the DTA.

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general issues

Dublin Bus ordered to pay out €143,000 for passenger’s crushed foot

Maybe all the money squirreled away from unclaimed change receipts on the buses could be used by Dublin Bus to pay out all these compensation claims. It’s not clear what route this happened on, maybe the 70N?

The Irish Times [subs required] reports:

A man has secured €143,000 damages from the High Court after he had to have five toes amputated when a bus drove over his foot.

The action by Sean Horan (58), unemployed, McClean’s Court, The Coombe, Dublin, was against Dublin Bus arising out of the incident at Usher’s Quay, Dublin, on December 18th, 2003 as he was attempting to board a double decker bus.

Dublin Bus had denied negligence and also pleaded that Mr Horan had failed to remain in the designated bus queue.
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light rail

Expensive study of fantasy Luas line published

Consultants continue to swallow up our transport budget

The RPA have published a report explaining why a line it is proposing would cost lots of money, require the purchase of 10 buildings and 150 gardens and wouldn’t make enough money to justify itself (their criteria, not mine). To make matter worse, it would mean the removal of the Rathfarnham Quality Bus Corridor.

It’s bad enough that we have a situation whereby there are two state transport companies who do not get on with each other, and have to run to the minister every time one wants to play with the other’s toys. In addition to this, the fact that the RPA are bleeding money away with report after report on Luas lines that simply have no chance at all of ever being built is ridiculous. Forget the fact that everyone seems to think it is a bad thing that a particular mode of public transport wouldn’t make any money (public transport is not there to make money!), how about we use the money spent on these reports to build some proper QBCs instead of proposing to remove them.

If these routes justify a Luas, surely a far cheaper alternative is a segregated or part-segregated bus lane (i.e. expanding and augmenting the already existing QBC), with Luas style frequency of service. It would be a damn sight cheaper and could be up and running in no time.
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government and politics

Transport Minister rejects the need for extra buses

Noel Dempsey says he’s not sure, doesn’t know and remains to be convinced.

While appearing to make all the right noises to the media, there is something of the same old story when you actually take a look at the kind of things Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, is saying in relation to bus provision in Dublin, and public transport in general.

Speak with a member of the travelling masses and they will agree that it’s great that Dublin Bus are after getting some newer buses recently, but Seamus Public will also be keen to point out that he is still uncomfortably crammed onto the shiny new bus, staring at someones armpit the whole way to work. This, after probably waiting quite a bit too. And that’s assuming he can even get on a bus that isn’t completely rammed in the first place.
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fares and ticketing

Integrated ticketing scandal continues

Some more detail on what we reported last week follows below. The nonsense of the Irish Government’s ill-conceived and over complicated integrated ticketing fiasco continues, with the solution to the delays now being to hire more consultants. Of course, why didn’t we think if it before!

Ian Kehoe of the Sunday Business Post writes:

The government plans to hire external consultants to speed up its long-delayed €50 million integrated ticketing system for public transport. The project is running four years late and €20 million over its original budget.
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