Forced to spend €30 per day on taxis - the people really affected by the Luas strike
AS Luas drivers held their 12th day of industrial action, thousands of commuters were left scrambling to find another way of getting to work.
For researcher Lisa Reid, each strike means an additional cost of €30 per day to get taxis to and from work.
Travelling from the Heuston stop to Mayor Square on the red line, the strikes mean the length of her journey is doubled and she often struggles to find a taxi when travelling at peak times.
“Every time that there’s a strike on, I have to get a taxi in. The buses are so busy so that’s not really an option. Everyone else is doing the same thing so it costs €15 when it usually would cost about €10 and it adds up. It’s an additional financial cost you don’t need,” she told Independent.ie.
As she works on Saturdays as well, she has been hit by almost every strike, and has spent close to €200 on taxis since the industrial action began.
“Today, I didn’t know there was a Luas strike on, so myself and my husband went to the bus stop, and the driver said the bus was full and only one person could get on.
“We tried to get a taxi instead but once I opened the app it said they were experiencing high demand because of the strike,” she said.
“There are a lot of delays, so you could be waiting more than 10 minutes to order a taxi, and then you have to abandon the app and try hail one off the street. Even then, there’s just not enough taxis to go around, so it’s the luck of the draw.”
Her shift starts at 9am and ends at 7.30pm, so she finds herself competing with the thousands of other people delayed by the strikes and is equally affected by the half-day stoppages.
“Lots of people I work with have been affected by the Luas strikes and there’s a lot of anger there. We have to pay this extra dividend, even when you drive in you still have to pay for parking so in any case it’s an extra cost incurred. There’s a lot of resentment now,” she said.
Outside of the city centre, workers at the Citywest business campus have found their work routes hugely disrupted by the strike actions.
The Luas red line provides the most direct route to Citywest, and many have been forced to get taxis to make it into the office on time.
The Irish business telecoms operator Pure Telecom is based at Citywest, and commercial sales manager David Sheill said that of their 50 staff members, up to 15 have had their daily commutes affected by the strikes.
“I’d be fielding the calls from them when there’s a strike, and there have been four incidents where they’ve had to get taxis,” he told Independent.ie, noting that a taxi from the city centre costs a minimum of €25 one way.
“Some of them wouldn’t even know until they get to the Luas stop that there’s a strike on, and they realise they only have one option to make sure they get into work on time, and that’s to get a taxi,” he said.
The majority of the staff are based in Dublin, and many travel from Swords and further afield in the greater Dublin area to get the Luas to work.
“Our shifts would start anywhere from 8am-11am, and there have been days where guys would be on a 11am shift but you’d see them here at 8.30am in the morning because that was the only bus they could get to be on time.
“Every time there has been a strike, there have been people late to work, but we try to be accommodating to that. In the evenings, we’ve had to let people go early so they can get a bus and get home.
“The buses don’t serve Citywest as well as the Luas, so when they have to make alternative travel arrangements, that sort of thing happens,” he said.
As well as those heading to work, holiday plans have been turned upside down by the stoppages.
Guests at the Gibson Hotel in the Point Village have made several complaints to staff about the inconvenience of the strikes.
“With our guests, it’s become an issue from a leisure perspective. Guests are coming here for a break, they like to park their cars downstairs or come in from the airport and know they can jump on a Luas to get into the city or to the attractions along the line,” said Nicky Logue, general manager at the hotel.
“Guests have passed comment that it’s very frustrating and it’s an added expense when they come to Dublin.”
He added that they have been booking a lot more taxis on the days of the strikes, and although they use a company with a large base of 400 cars, they still see delays during peak times of 7.30am-9am.
“June, July, August and September are the key months for our home market, our UK market and a high number of American visitors. In June, you could be looking at around 13,000-14,000 guests,” he said.
“The summer is our peak leisure season, particularly with families. We do a zoo package for two adults and two children, and they would expect to be able to get as close to the zoo as possible on the Luas.”
In addition to the upcoming stoppages, the closure of nine stops on the red line is another cause for concern at the hotel, and Mr Logue said guests are likely to be confused by the replacement bus service.
“That came out of the blue for us. We’re told it may go on for longer than nine weeks. That’s becoming a big concern, there’s no real final point as to when they’re going to come back on,” he said.
Further strike action is planned to take place on May 26, May 27, June 2, June 3, June 7, June 8, June 9 and June 10.