Wednesday 23 August 2017

'We would be checking tickets but now we're just trying to help people to work': Bus strike causes Luas chaos

Passengers pictured unable to board the oversubscribed LUAS during the Bus Strike at Heuston Station today. PIC/ Colin O'Riordan
Passengers pictured unable to board the oversubscribed LUAS during the Bus Strike at Heuston Station today. PIC/ Colin O'Riordan

Cian Murray, Conor Feehan

The Luas was packed to capacity this morning as the Dublin Bus strike took place throughout the city.

One staff member even told Independent.ie that they had stopped checking tickets in an attempt to relieve the pressure.

Many commuters were spotted walking the Luas tracks as an alternative, with both the Red and Green line experiencing serious delays due to congestion. 

During day one, commuters had to tolerate approximately 25,000 extra cars on the roads, City Centre collisions and several issues with alternative public transport.

This morning, heavy tailbacks have been paired with severe congestion on available public transport.

No relief

By 7.45 am city-bound Luas trams were arriving full, and while a handful of people would disembark there would be throng trying to get on, with many simply unable to.

"It's much busier than usual, you can certainly notice it," said John Healy, who was traveling from Naas to the north inner city.

Pic via/ Gillian Fitzpatrick
Pic via/ Gillian Fitzpatrick

"I think I'll end up walking," he added as another tram pulled away with not an inch of room on it for him.

Meanwhile, Transdev crews were on hand trying to get as many people onto the trams as possible, and urging people to move down into the carriages so that more could embark.

"We're just trying to keep things moving. There was a woman in a wheelchair we had to make room for. We would usually be checking tickets too at this time of the morning but for the moment we're just trying to help people get to work," one told independent.ie.

Meanwhile, by 8.10am more and more passengers were coming out of Heuston's main train station from the commuter towns outside Dublin, and filling the platform at the Luas stop.

Dublin Bike stands were also empty at the station, with all bikes already in use.

Traffic - This morning's worst hit areas

* Slow inbound on the N4/Lucan Rd from J4 Newcastle past the Palmerstown Bypass.

* Nearby, there are delays from Parkgate St onto the North Quays and throught to Ellis Quay. Busy again at Bachelors Walk and from Custom House Quay to Samuel Beckett Bridge.

* Busy inbound on the N7/Naas Rd from the Green Isle Hotel to the Red Cow Interchange.

* Slow on the Navan Rd inbound from before the railway bridge to Baggot Rd and then through Cabra Cross onto the Cabra Rd and the Old Cabra Rd inbound.

* Very busy moving inbound on the Swords Rd from Whitehall Flyover to Drumcondra.

Striking Bus drivers, Aidan McCabe and Garrett Pimlott at The Conyngham Road Depot picket today. PIC Colin O'Riordan
Striking Bus drivers, Aidan McCabe and Garrett Pimlott at The Conyngham Road Depot picket today. PIC Colin O'Riordan

* The Finglas Rd and Botanic Rd are both slow heading towards Hart's Corner with delays then onto the Phibsborough Rd and through to Doyle’s Corner.

* The NCR is slow from before Doyle's Corner to Dorset St.

* Delays inbound from Edge’s Corner in Fairview to Connolly Station on Amiens St.

* Busy nearby, from Seville Place through to Samuel Beckett Bridge on Guild St.

* Slow inbound from Mountjoy Square onto Gardiner Stand through to Beresford Place.

* Busy inbound on Harold's Cross Rd from Harold's Cross Park to Leonard's Corner on Clanbrassil St.

* Eastbound along Grand Canal it's slow from Donore Rd through to Ranelagh Rd.

* It’s busy but moving inbound on the Rock Rd from Booterstown Ave to the Merrion Gates.

More travel misery

Day one of the strike saw heavy traffic in Dublin city centre compounded the crowding on the DART and Luas services, as city workers sought to get home yesterday evening.

"It was so crowded today that I had to walk down a few stops before I found a station that wasn't packed," said Luas user Kevin O'Dwyer (22) from Kilnamanagh, in south Dublin.

Read more: Same-day strikes on both the buses and trains loom down the track

Working in the heart of the city centre, Kevin said he had seen a lot of new faces on the tram line. "There was a lot of confusion at each of the stops as they tried to figure things out."

Irish Rail reported that all services were "very busy" throughout the evening and most Dart lines expected delays of more than 15 minutes.

Irritated bus user Aileen Griffin (22), heading home to Sandymount in the south of the city, told the Irish Independent she faced a 30-minute trek in the rain. "I don't live near the Dart or the Luas, so not being able to get a bus today has been a big pain."

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)

Another Dublin resident forced to take the Dart was Avril Collins (19), from Booterstown.

"I always take the bus because it stops right outside my house, so getting the train this morning was a new experience," she said.

"I was so afraid that something would go wrong that I practised earlier in the week."

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

A Dublin Bus Service notice as motorists use the Bus Lane at Whitehall.
PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
A Dublin Bus Service notice as motorists use the Bus Lane at Whitehall. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN

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

But mother-of-two Emma Vealie (36) backed the strike action, saying that no complaining commuters had "walked in the shoes of the bus drivers".

Speaking to the Irish Independent, striking driver Maurice Coen (47) said that it was an extremely tough job at times.

He said many of his fellow drivers had experienced violent attacks on their vehicles and themselves during their time navigating the capital's commuter routes.

"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.

Serious Concern for cyclists

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.

Read more: Dublin Bus strike: Trams, trains and long walks home in rain

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.

Retail hit

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.

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.

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