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Saturday 24 February 2018

'I couldn't get the Luas, there was just no room' - Commuters struggle to find alternative transport during bus strike

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)

Alan O'Keefe

Tens of thousands of people were forced to change their travel plans as striking bus staff began the first of a series of threatened two-day stoppages.

Large numbers of people left home early to walk long distances to get to work on time while others joined crowds cramming onto Luas trams and commuter trains.  A significant increase in cars coming into Dublin worsened the daily traffic problems in the city.

"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.

"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.

Noel Rooney (34) from Clondalkin in Dublin said the bus strike had added a half hour to his journey time.

"I normally get a 40 bus into O'Connell Street but I had to change to a train.  It is taking me longer to get to work but I feel the bus drivers are entitled to a pay rise.

"Everyone else are getting pay rises.  A lot of people are upset about the strike, but there's an awful lot more that's going wrong in the world to be getting upset about.

"Minister Ross hasn't been seen doing much about the strike. It's time he got involved and the Government do something. It's time to start getting more money off the banks they rescued," he said.

Tony Flanagan (62) said he wasn't  able to get a Luas tram to his appointment because they were over-flowing with extra passengers who normally get buses.

"I looking for a taxi now because the trams are jammed.  Maybe it's time for the army to start driving the buses. I was in the army during a bus strike in the 1980s and the public were picked up at their stops by army lorries.  I was busy helping people into the army lorries during that strike.

"The army lorries nowadays are a lot more comfortable than the ones the public used in the 1980s.  The army did a very good job picking people up from bus stops. People were glad of a lift in the trucks," he said.

Mr Flanagan travelled to Dublin from Portlaoise and had gone to a LUAS stop as normal today before he realised he would not be able to get on.  He needed to have enough space to travel comfortably, he said.

"This strike is going to be hard on elderly people.  How are they going to get to the hospitals for their appointments. A lot of elderly people can't afford to get taxis. 

"It's time for Mr Ross to do something," he said.

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