I have written previously about how shockingly difficult it is to reach one of the largest industrial estates in the country, on public transport, during rush hour, every morning. A place where tens of thousands of people work, served by such a primitive and unreliable service, clearly ought to be regarded as a problem. The problem is simple – the 40D bus from Parnell Street to Ballycoolin Industrial Estate is ‘The Bus that Never Arrives’. If I arrive at 8.25am for the 8.30am service then the bus will arrive at 8.44am. If you crawl out of bed early to make the 8.15am service then it will rock up at 8.44am.
There is absolutely no rhyme nor reason as to when (or if) the bus will show. Which is rather problematic when you consider that so many people are dependent on the service to get to work. (I have not recently seen the bearded guy who told me one mournful morning that he had received an official warning from his employer about his timekeeping, for his persistent lateness. Even though he was at the stop every morning with adequate time to reach work on time. I hope he has not been fired, because that would be largely the fault of Dublin Bus.)
This service used to be reasonably regular and reliable – as you’d expect and require, for a major commuter route. About six months ago it suddenly became a consistently, persistently unreliable service – running on schedule a maximum of 25% of the time during rush hour. It all seemed to go to the dogs when the new tram line was almost complete.
Dublin Bus has an online feedback form for complaints. Last November after the fifth consecutive day of my bus not arriving I made a complaint. The response was that because of the train strike the bus schedules were out of kilter. My polite reply asked what the reason was for the delay on the four preceding days. I received a phone call from a contrite sounding gentleman, to state that there was nothing they could do because of the ‘union’ (the bus drivers’ union I imagine).
Change the route to avoid the wildly congested intersection of O’Connell Street and Parnell Street? Not possible because of ‘the union.’
Change the route to avoid Finglas village which can be gridlock during rush hour? Not possible because some passengers would be upset.
Add extra buses on that route in the morning? Not possible because of ‘the union’.
It was almost as if ‘the union’ was being used as the catch all excuse as why absolutely nothing was going to be done to address the utterly appalling service to the industrial estate.
I forgot to ask why the real-time information causes buses to mysteriously vanish. At 8.27am, the next bus should be due in 3 minutes. At 8.31am, when the bus is now one minute late, it disappears from the screen. The next one is now scheduled to arrive in fourteen minutes. The mystery of the disappearing 40D? Enid Blyton ought to investigate. How can a ‘real time’ system allow for vanishing buses? How much money has been squandered on this worthless system?
I am confident however that Dublin Bus would place responsibility for the failure of Real-time information on ‘the union’ also.
The bottom line is that the 40D route is an absolute joke of a service– a symbol of tragic failure, and the contempt that Dublin Bus feels towards its passengers.
You can’t blame the drivers. They cannot be held accountable for the fact that the previous bus didn’t arrive. They are the face of the company however, so clearly they take the brunt of the public’s response to the dismal inability of their employer to run an effective bus route to an area where thousands of people are employed.
Today there was a hint of revolution in the air. I was at my stop by 8.21am. At 8.40am the bus finally rolled up. The thoroughly dejected commuter population boarded resentfully, chilled to the bone. I know for a fact that many other passengers have made complaints to Dublin Bus about the tragic fiasco that is the 40D service – I have heard them saying so. Absolutely nothing has been done.
Well this morning an energetic young woman (who I suspect may have vegetarian tendencies owing to her chirpy demeanour and slightly hippyish dress style) was gathering signatures for a petition to Dublin Bus, to request that they urgently address the fact that it is endangering people’s livelihoods due to its inability to run an appropriate bus service.
Absolutely everybody on the bus this morning, signed the petition and had a sorry tale to tell of how they have waited in vain for the 40D to take them to work on time.
And what was this? There was also a Dublin Bus employee on board (not the driver) with sheets of paper, who disembarked at every stop en-route and noted the bus stop number and time. Could it be that Dublin Bus are finally listening to their customers, and are starting to understand that some pretence at time reliability is required on a major commuter journey? Probably not – Dublin Bus doesn’t care about its customers after all.
In typical Dublin Bus style this gentleman was noting the stop number and time, at each stop on a bus that was already late. His valiant efforts were actually causing further delays to passengers.
I must try to find that petition taker. Maybe if people start refusing to pay fares for a bus that is fifteen minutes late it might force the Dublin Bus company to address this issue? She has everyone’s email address.
Time for resistance. To the barricades commuters.