Wednesday 22 May 2019

Bus Éireann not in tune with customers


Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

It is just over two years since Bus Éireann vehicles began to roll again after a three-week industrial dispute.

Back then the company claimed that it was close to insolvency and needed to introduce serious cutbacks. The previous year, 2016 Bus Éireann lost €9.4 million. A deal was done, the drivers went back to work and the buses have been running ever since.No news is good news but anyone who uses Bus Éireann could easily be tempted to wonder how well our State-owned company is managed.

The late Fergal Quinn is the business man who championed the phrase that the customer is king.

I was on my way from Dublin to Cavan to visit a colleague who had returned from the US and is now living in a nursing home close to Cavan town. The real time destination board at Busáras read Donegal via Cavan, departure time 14.00. Clearly that was my bus so I duly stood in the appropriate queue.

Boarding commenced. I had my fold-up bicycle with me. When I got to the top of the queue I went to the side of the bus and loaded my bicycle. Boarded the bus, asked for a ticket to Cavan. The driver told me that his bus was going to Donegal and I could not board this bus. I explained that the destination board said via Cavan but he was having none of it.

I then told him that I had already placed my fold-up bicycle in the bus. He looked at me and in quite a surly tone told me as I did not have the bicycle in a bag he would have to charge me €10 for the bicycle. I actually had a bag for the bicycle but thought there was no need to pack the bicycle and certainly in the queue with people behind me I did not have the time, energy or inclination to go through the motions of bagging the bicycle. I was also embarrassed.

I knew that this bus was going to Donegal via Cavan, at least so it said on the destination board but I was not allowed board.Not a happy passenger, I took my bicycle off the bus and queued successfully for the 14.15 bus to Cavan.

The story is as follows: the Donegal bus travels via Dublin Airport and does not take Cavan passengers at Busáras so that there will be seats still available at the airport for Donegal and Cavan passengers. But why then does Bus Éireann advertise it as a bus going to Cavan? Mysterious. After my encounter I got talking to a fellow passenger, also going to Cavan. He regaled me with hilarious experiences he has had travelling the route. On one occasion he was asked to show his flight boarding pass.

Castlegregory, which is approximately 30 kilometres from Tralee has a once-a-week bus service between the village and Tralee. It departs Fridays at 10.33 and arrives at the Tralee bus station at 11.10, at least we did the day I was on it. The Tralee Cork/Dublin rail service departs the rail station, which is beside the bus station at 11.05. Is there no one in Bus Éireann to tell someone that it might be a good idea for the bus to arrive 10 minutes earlier, so that passengers can make the connection with the train. I said it to a bus driver and his reply was: 'ah, that would be too easy'.

Customers or indeed, passengers, feeling they are kings?

Fingal Independent