This week the Blanch Gazette (local weekly paper) picked up on a press release I sent out just after Christmas in which I was pretty critical of Dublin Bus. In it I suggested that if Dublin Bus was looking for a New Years Resolution, I would suggest that they could pick “provide a better service for customers”. I questioned whether the company should be allowed to again raise all its fares in light of its persistently poor service.
Now, I don’t usually go on the attack to such an extent, but, as someone who doesn’t drive and depends on public transport for the majority of my travel, I am really browned off with Dublin Bus. And I know from canvassing door-to-door, that I’m not the only one. Unhappiness with the traffic situation in Dublin 15, and public transport in particular, is the number one issue that I am hearing from people on the doorsteps.
Getting back to Dublin Bus, here are a few of my personal chief bug-bears:
o Buses arriving late: My stop is the start of the bus route, so no, you can’t blame heavy traffic.
o Buses departing early: There’s nothing worse than walking to your stop and seeing the bus cruise past you at 14:56 when it’s not meant to leave till 15:00.
o No bus shelters: This is particularly a problem in newly built up areas. Tyrrelstown has seen over 2,000 houses and apartments built in the last 4 years, but neither of the two stops have been provided with a shelter. In Carpenterstown, the first 3 stops of the 37 route along the Diswellstown Road are without shelters, despite the large number of people who use them. We don’t live in Spain – the least we should be entitled to is that when we are waiting for our bus on a wet winters morning, there is a bit of shelter for our heads.
o No time tables at bus stops: Am I to guess when the next bus will come?
o Dirt on buses: I particularly like it when someone leaves the window open on a rainy night and the next morning, a huge puddle of water sloshes across the floor of the top deck every time the bus turns.
o Smoking on buses: The warnings over the bus intercom don’t seem to be having any effect!
This is more than a list of minor moans. These are all reasons why people aren’t availing of public transport in Ireland. As the price of fuel continues to rise and our emissions from the transport sector rocket, we need to be encouraging people onto the bus (and the train), not driving them away.
I believe that Dublin Bus should have a specific consumer charter, setting out its obligations to all passengers. There should be a phone number advertised on all buses which a passenger can call if they have a complaint. No one is looking for luxury on our bus fleet, but getting the basics right would be a huge step in providing Dublin with the world class public transport service that it deserves.