Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Irish Public Transport and the Soviet-style Bureaucracy that runs Córas Iompair Éireann

Last November a survey bought/commissioned by the Dublin Transportation Office (DTO) had a startling revelation for people who need surveys to tell them what should be self-evident.

One-half of Dublin drivers would never use bus services, even if services were improved. Unreliability, long waiting times and poor connections were cited as the main reasons for not taking the bus. As many as four out of five people expressed dissatisfaction with traffic congestion and access to the Luas. Just over 35 per cent of those surveyed were satisfied with the quality and upkeep of roads, and with facilities for cycling.

It often occurs to me when passing through the Pearse Street train station in Dublin at rush hour, that anyone who wants an example of the result of a Soviet-style bureaucracy should visit it.

Our hapless Minister for Transport Martin Cullen and John Lynch, the head of the politburu that runs the State transport company Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), most likely only use public transport when participating in photo opportunities.

Cullen has launched a multi-billion euro plan termed Transport 21 but the existing software leaves a lot to be desired.

At Pearse Street, as a train rumbles over the bridge traversing Westland Row during rush-hour, passengers stampede through a small nineteenth century crowded foyer as arriving passengers fight their way down gangways as other passengers elbow their way up to the platforms.

For a majority of the passengers, walking towards the left seems natural while possibly 30% who are foreign nationals may choose the right.

At Pearse, there is a stone stairway and a gangway with a steel divider but there are no arrow signalling that would simply improve the flow of passenger traffic.

What can be expected of a management that required travellers to Dublin who arrived at its headquarters at Hueston Station to have the correct change for a ride on the No. 90 bus into the city centre but nobody bothered to put up a display notice at the waiting area (most arriving passengers now take the Luas tram)?

Arriving from Cork on one occassion, I witnessed the bus driver telling a baffled young Italian, to collect change at an office on O'Connell Street.

As to taking the bus, standing at a bustop is an experience that been fixed in time. There is no electronic indication as to when a bus will arrive or if a service has been cancelled because of the illness of a driver.

Car drivers prefer the comfort of their cars and gridlock to another aspect of public transportation that is often ignored.

For the many plonkers who place their feet on seats, there is an innocuous request to refrain from it instead of a large notice indicating the such individuals are ignoramuses.

Manners are also in scarce supply as the general practice is to push onto a carriage as passengers are alighting. Then there are the people who would sneeze into your face and mobile phones! It's enough to make a dog strike his father!

When we can't get the small things right in a system where the Buck Stops Nowhere, just wonder how much will be wasted on Cullen's Transport 21 plan:

ESRI Report: Transport 21 slammed as seriously flawed