Saturday 18 January 2020

Audrey Kane: 'Why commuter-belt living is not for the light-hearted... I do a four-hour round trip every day'

Long distance: Audrey Kane, who has a hellish commute to work from Athy. Photo: David Conachy
Long distance: Audrey Kane, who has a hellish commute to work from Athy. Photo: David Conachy

Audrey Kane

Commuter-belt living is not for the faint-hearted. I live in Athy, Co Kildare, with my partner and our daily grind involves a 140km round trip to Dublin.

That can translate as up to four hours of our time spent on the road - that's on a good day.

If there is an accident or it's raining, it's guesswork when we will get to work or what time we'll arrive home, but we've had days when it's been as long as three hours each way.

On those days, the long car journey can leave me feeling exhausted even before I clock in at the office.

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Our day starts in the dark when we leave the house at 7.30am.

As soon as we're in the car, we 'Google Map' our journey to check for accidents or delays along our route that can - if possible - be avoided.

We sometimes use the back roads just to avoid sitting aimlessly in the inevitable sea of red lights when there's a collision.

However, if weather conditions are bad, it's simply safer to stay in the gridlock and not venture down a winding country road.

Minor and major collisions on major arteries such as the M50 and N7 can cause chaos some mornings or in the evening rush-hour traffic.

And sometimes it's just sheer volume that brings the traffic to a halt.

I feel sorry for the parents who often have to race against the clock to pick up their children from childcare facilities.

After we navigate our way down the N7, my partner has the added agony of continuing his journey on the M50 southbound to Cherrywood.

Mine isn't much better. I get dropped at the Red Cow Luas stop to hop the red line into Talbot Street for the second part of my commute.

While I'm grateful to be out of the car so I can stretch my legs, unfortunately overcrowding and sometimes anti-social activity make the travel experience less than enticing, especially on the evening trip back to the Red Cow where we begin our trek home.

People can get close to you on the Luas. Real close.

If my partner is held up on the M50, it means that I can be left waiting out in the cold at the Red Cow Luas stop.

By the end of the week we're normally so shattered from commuting all week that we rarely drive anywhere at the weekends.

Just to be out of the car is a joy.

Irish Independent

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