27 April 2009

Dublin in Traffic Chaos over Bus Drivers' Strike

Dublin Bus services are in disarray and many city routes face severe disruption as a result of an unofficial work stoppage by numerous drivers at the company's bus depots.

The strike action began already yesterday morning, when drivers stopped working in sympathy with a colleague on route 128. This driver was suspended by the management "for refusing to work to a new schedule".

Trade unions had accepted Labour Court recommendations on the bus company's € 31 million cost-cutting measures that included a reduction of the fleet by 120 buses.
Most of the drivers are unhappy with new schedules which were coming into effect yesterday and had been recommended by the Labour Court.

Dublin Bus routes that will have no service at all are the numbers 4 and 4A, 13 and 13A, 17A, 33B, 40, 102, 128, 140, 142, 237, 238, 239 and 270.
There is also disruption to at least ten routes, partly serviced by drivers and buses from the Harristown depot. These are the numbers 37 and 37X, 38 and 38C, 39 and 39X, 41 and 41X, 43 and 70.

The drivers claim that while the broad proposals had been accepted by their unions over a week ago, the working arrangements for drivers on each of the routes affected by the cuts had to be worked out locally before the implementation of the cuts.
They said agreement had been reached on all but one of the routes due to be cut or changed. And when the first driver turned up to work that one route - the 128 - yesterday morning, he refused to operate the new schedule and was suspended, prompting the action by the other drivers at the depot.

There were already serious implications and traffic disruptions all throughout Dublin yesterday. But today, on a normal working day, things are a lot worse. Tens of thousands of commuters who rely on the services of Dublin Bus to get from their homes to their places of work are affected by the bus drivers' dispute. Many did not manage to reach work at all, and many more arrived late, in cases up to four hours late.
Others, who - in anticipation of the bus strike - decided to come into the city by car, had not much joy either. The increase in private cars coming in, together with some bus routes operating irregular intervals, while others operate normal as always and some are shut down completely, is causing a massive traffic chaos, with long tailbacks and traffic jams on all major city streets and ringroads.

But while hundreds of thousands of Dubliners (and the visitors to our capital) are suffering from the various elements of this complete chaos and breakdown of organised inner city traffic, the man responsible is enjoying himself on a day out in the country. Transport Minister Noel Dempsey (right) decided not to bother at all with Dublin today and to stay for another fine day in his rural constituency of Co. Meath, which is not so far from the capital, but far enough to escape the traffic chaos and the angry bus drivers.

Noel Dempsey, one of the most pigheaded and incompetent of Fianna Fáil's politicians, is now in his fourth ministerial job at cabinet level. After being a junior minister and the government 'chief whip' from 1992 to 1994, Dempsey was promoted to the cabinet in 1997 as Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government. After the 2002 election Bertie Ahern moved him to Education & Science, and in September 2004 Dempsey moved again, this time to Communications, Natural Resources and the Marine. In each of these three positions he proved to be a complete disaster. He dreamed up the introduction of electronic voting machines for Ireland in his first cabinet job, and it took more than ten years to decide to get rid of them eventually.
As Education Minister he upset the Curriculum and many teachers, and after his spell in charge of the Marine the department was so wrecked and depleated of resources that it was abolished in 2007 and incorporated into the Department of Transport, to which Dempsey was moved subsequently.

He has absolutely no idea about traffic and transport, and his only real involvement in that matter was the fact that he and his brother bought up most of the land in Co. Meath that was later allocated - and thus bought by the government for a much higher price - to the route of the controversial M 3 motorway.
Since last December Dempsey has been working hard to undermine the already weak system of public transport in Ireland (see my entries of December 17th, 2008 and January 20th, 2009). Part of that process are fare increases and budget cuts for the state-owned transport company Coras Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) and its component parts Iarnród Éireann (Irish Railways), Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus. The most severe measures, including the cuts of bus routes and decommissioning of 120 buses, Dempsey applied to Dublin Bus.

He is the one man solely responsible for today's traffic chaos, and for a lot more damage to this country's transport system. Every day he remains in the cabinet and in charge of Transport, things can only get worse.

The Emerald Islander

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