Dublin Bus, Luas and Go-Ahead fined €5m for delays and no shows
Frustration for commuters left in the lurch hasn’t gone unpunished – as National Transport Authority takes companies to task
Bus operators in Dublin have been fined nearly €2.5m in the first six months of the year for not showing up on time or cancelling services.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) hit Dublin Bus with penalties of almost €1.5m, while Go-Ahead – the company that has taken over many of the Dublin Bus routes in recent years – was fined more than €850,000.
The Luas service has been hit with penalties of €2.67m for services not operated and services not operated on time.
Online community forums have been inundated with posts about poor services in recent months, with many commuters saying they cannot get to college, school or their workplace on time.
Workers who rely on buses to get them to their jobs have reported they are getting warnings from their employers about being late and they fear it could affect their employment.
The 175 service from Citywest to UCD – a route run by Go-Ahead Ireland – came in for criticism because if it gets cancelled or does not show up on time, students are forced to get two other buses from their locations in order to get to university on time.
Some stranded students have even shared taxis to the Belfield campus when their 175 has not arrived, which is a more expensive commute than the bus.
Frustrated commuters have said the current bus service makes a mockery of assertions by governments that more people should use public transport and leave their cars at home.
On Saturday, Green Party councillor for Kimmage and Rathmines, Carolyn Moore, tweeted that she had been waiting 50 minutes for a Number 13 bus to Ballymun that is supposed to come every 15 minutes.
“Could have hopped in the car and gotten there in 25 minutes, or biked it in 35, but I figured I’ll take the bus. Big mistake,” she wrote.
“When I eventually get there, I’ll be an hour late, and it will be almost two hours after I left my house this morning, because I chose to make an 8km journey by Dublin Bus.
“I long for a city where the car can truly be the last option people consider, but we’ve still a way to go,” she added.
An NTA spokesman said that as with many industries, bus operators have been experiencing significant challenges in recruiting qualified staff, following the return to economic activity in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“The Authority apologises to passengers for the inconvenience that the current poor reduction in service performance is causing them,” said the spokesman.
Go-Ahead Ireland said it “sincerely apologises to any customers impacted by this disruption” and wanted to reassure passengers that it is working to avoid a repeat of such occurrences.
“Go-Ahead Ireland has recently launched its largest ever recruitment campaign for drivers and staff across our business. We have had an excellent response and currently have new drivers undertaking training in our driver school and being deployed across our network to enhance our service and the experience of our passengers,” said a spokeswoman.
Chairperson for the Dublin Commuter Coalition group, Feljin Jose, said the problem of poor bus services has existed for many months, and that it really cannot be solved until new drivers come on stream.
“Questions we need to ask are: where are the drivers who were recruited six months ago? The bus companies are struggling to hold on to drivers,” he said.