Friday 30 September 2016

Luas faults, collisions and huge traffic on day one of Dublin Bus strike

*Extra 25,000 cars on roads
*Luas not running from certain stops
*AA Roadwatch - traffic heavier at earlier stage
*Several collisions in the City Centre

Cian Murray, Conor Feehan, Alan O'Keefe

Published 08/09/2016 | 08:14

Commuters make their way throught the city as bus workers strike in Dublin this morning,
Pic: Mark Condren
Commuters make their way throught the city as bus workers strike in Dublin this morning, Pic: Mark Condren

Traffic chaos hit the capital this morning as the first day of the Dublin Bus strike took place.

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Delays were reported all over the city, while multiple collisions and Luas faults made commuter's journeys even more strenuous.

There were approximately 25,000 extra vehicles on the road and although many opted to hit the roads early this morning, AA Roadwatch reported that traffic was unusually heavy from early.

Approximately 400,000 people were affected by the strikes.

A small silver lining at the edge of this cloud is that Dublin Bus last night confirmed holders of annual and monthly Dublin Bus Leap cards are eligible for refunds of €5.50 a day for each day of the strike.

Earlier and busier

AA Roadwatch reported that traffic was unusually heavy coming into the capital from a much earlier stage than usual this morning. It said traffic levels at 7.30am would be what they would see at 8am to 8.15am.

It also said that the worst difficulties seemed to be on the M7 and N7 routes from the commuter towns of Kildare into the capital.

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)

"Traffic was backed up to Junction 6 Celbridge by 8.15am with long delays reported to the M50 which also saw increased volumes in traffic at a much earlier time than we would usually see." said a Roadwatch spokeswoman.

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 official said.

These delays were made worse by a collision during rush hour around Parnell Square, while the Luas Red Line was out of action for a short time after 11am because of a van parked on the line.

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)

Problems on the Green Line added to the problem, with the tram only running between Carrickmines and St Stephen's Green due to a technical issue.

Serious Concern for cyclists

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)

Motorists were 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.

Watch: 'I will have to call in sick, I've no other way' - Commuters open up on Dublin Bus strike woes

Read more: Dublin Bus passengers with monthly or annual tickets WILL get their money back

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

"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.

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)

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.

"It will be a pain"

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.

"I couldn't get into the Luas trams at Heuston Station. There was just no room," complained Joe Daly (31) who was travelling  to work in James Joyce Street in the city centre.

"I get the train from Tullamore every morning and get a bus from Heuston but there was absolutely no room on the Luas this morning. I waited for the next tram and it was full too.  I lost patience and decided to give up trying to get on a tram.

"Now I've got to get a taxi," he said, as he joined a long queue for taxis. I've had to got on WhatsApp and tell my team in work that I won't be there on time.

"I can see the reason for the strike because the bus drivers were promised a pay increase in the past.  It is up to Dublin Bus to get them to the table. If there was an agreement to pay them more, it should be honoured. 

"The strike should be settled locally instead of going to the Government about it'" he said.

Commuters have been warned to leave extra time for travel to work or school.

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