Tuesday 27 September 2016

Dublin Bus strike to cost company 5.5m over six days

Allison Bray, Luke Byrne and David Kearns

Published 08/09/2016 | 02:30

Workers on the picket line for the Dublin Bus strikes (Photo: Mark Condren)
Workers on the picket line for the Dublin Bus strikes (Photo: Mark Condren)
Workers on the picket line for the Dublin Bus strikes (Photo: Mark Condren)
Workers on the picket line for the Dublin Bus strikes (Photo: Mark Condren)
Workers on the picket line for the Dublin Bus strikes (Photo: Mark Condren)
Dublin Bus

This month's six-day strike at Dublin Bus will cost the company up to €5.5m - with refunds for Leap cards alone potentially costing €660,000.

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Dublin Bus last night confirmed that holders of annual and monthly Dublin Bus Leap cards are eligible for refunds of €5.50 a day for each day of the strike.

Commuter Angela Velazquez empathised with bus drivers. Picture: Arthur Carron
Commuter Angela Velazquez empathised with bus drivers. Picture: Arthur Carron

The potential cost would amount to €110,000 a day if all 20,000 taxsaver Leap card holders apply for the refunds, which are available at the Dublin Bus headquarters on O'Connell Street once the strike is over.

Refunds do not apply to those Leap card holders who use top-up credit on their cards.

The refunds alone will cost Dublin Bus up to €660,000 if the six-day strike goes ahead later this month, or €220,000 for the two-day strike planned for today and Friday.

That's on top of €800,000 a day in fines and other costs, ­according to a Dublin Bus spokeswoman.

Workers on the picket line for the Dublin Bus strikes (Photo: Mark Condren)
Workers on the picket line for the Dublin Bus strikes (Photo: Mark Condren)

The National Transport Authority (NTA) is levying fines of €200,000 a day to Dublin Bus for not delivering service as contracted. It will also cost the company around €600,000 a day in lost revenue.

Meanwhile, Retail Ireland has expressed "serious concern" about the potential effect of the industrial action on the wider Dublin economy.

Student Brody Smyth was less sympathetic. Picture: Arthur Carron
Student Brody Smyth was less sympathetic. Picture: Arthur Carron

"Dublin Bus is a crucial part of Dublin's transport infrastructure and those using the service account for 42pc of all retail spend in the city," it said.

Public opinion on the strike remains divided. According to a survey conducted by Coyne Research, 24pc of people support the bus drivers while only 17pc of people supported the Luas drivers' strikes.

Commuter Angela Velazquez (32), living in Clontarf, says she empathised with the drivers. "It will be a pain ... [but] I understand why they're doing it. They want a better life for themselves and their families."

Christina Savage (67), living in Santry, also supported the drivers. "My husband has been in the Mater for six weeks now with double pneumonia and I get the bus in every day to see him. I don't know what I'm going to do now with the strike," she said. "Even though it is going to be hard, I still support the bus drivers striking. Everyone deserves a decent wage."

But others were less sympathetic. Terenure student Brody Smyth (19) has no way to get to his classes at Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology. "I'm really screwed by the strike. I can't get into work or college. I don't live near the Dart or Luas, and I can't afford to be taxied everywhere," he said.

Thousands of extra cars will this morning flood roads in the capital causing bottlenecks on feeder routes and main roads into the city centre.

As traffic chaos caused by the Dublin Bus strikes take hold, commuters have been warned to leave extra time for travel to work or school.

Expected traffic black spots have been identified as roads into the city centre from suburban areas with no access to Luas or Dart services.

"I think it will be particularly bad on the N11 corridor coming in to town. We're also likely to see heavy traffic on the Naas Road, the Lucan Road and on the northside, the Swords Road," the AA's Conor Faughnan said.

Workers on the picket line for the Dublin Bus strikes (Photo: Mark Condren)
Workers on the picket line for the Dublin Bus strikes (Photo: Mark Condren)

And while it was impossible to estimate the number of extra cars that will take to the streets with bus workers on strike, an official said it could be in excess of 25,000. "We know that there are around 400,000 people who take the bus every day. It's very difficult to say what percentage will now take their cars, or will just take the day off work.

"But it's fair to say it's a lot. It could be 10,000, it could be more," the council official said.

Motorists have been warned to be aware of extra pedestrians and cyclists on the roads. AA Roadwatch had called for bus lanes to be open for private cars for the duration of the strikes, but this has been rejected by the National Transport Authority and Transport Minister Shane Ross.

There has been no bus service since 9pm last night, after Dublin Bus management pulled the service for logistical reasons.

The strikes started officially at 12.01am and will run until the same time on Saturday morning. After that, four more days of strikes have been planned, including next Thursday and Friday and the following Friday and Saturday.

Irish Independent

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