Tag Archives | luas

We need a viable public transport system?

Or do we have one already? At least inside the M50?

Though I was being a bit of a devils advocate, we had an interesting conversation amongst my “real work” colleagues during last week. I ended up defending our Dublin public transport system against the attacks of my colleagues who claimed that it was woefully insufficient (as is the popular opinion these days).

Dublin has a comprehensive set of train connections – north to south, and using the Luas has an east to west rail connection also. It also has a very comprehensive bus network – so much so that the buses clog themselves up in the city centre each morning (though I have referred to that being a major issue in the past).

For most parts of the city, you can access public transport within 10-15 minutes walking distance. That it might not be your preferred mode of transport is actually your issue, not the transport providers.

This, I think, is a major difficulty for most people when it comes to Dublin Bus. For many people, up until recently they were too posh to shop in Lidl or Aldi – and these people are similarly unwilling to take the bus.

As an example, one colleague bemoaned the fact that there wasn’t sufficient parking spaces at his local DART station, despite the fact that there is a bus route outside his front door.

I also think that we in Dublin have unrealistic expectations when it comes to public transport. It’s very rare in any city in the world to have a comprehensive “point to point” public transport network that suits the majority of the cities population. It’s normal to have to take one or two modes of transport, or to have to change between services, to make it to your chosen destination.

There are issues, obviously (such as the bus gridlock on O’Connell street), but I personally don’t think that our Dublin public transport is as bad as many people make out.


Ten Greatest Irish Consumer Rip-Offs

The Sunday World
Des Ekin – July 18th, 2004

Imagine a land where a pint can cost over a fiver, a cup of tea cost €3 and a plain unheated scone in a self-service cafe can set you back €4.50.

A crazy place where it’s cheaper to fly to Paris to do your gift shopping than it is to hop on the Luas and do it in Grafton Street.

A country where people suffering from toothache are forced to fly to Hungary to find realistic prices for dental work.

Welcome to Rip-Off Ireland, where true competition is virtually unknown and the fat, greedy millionaires of the business world are given free rein to rob the consumer blind.

Welcome to the only country in the civilised world where the Government actively pins the consumers arms behind their back while the robber barons beat them up.

This week, as yet another survey shows that Irish people are paying the highest prices in Europe, the SUNDAY WORLD identifies the Ten Greatest Consumer Rip-Offs in Ireland today.

1. Drink

You know the world has gone mad when you order two pints of lager in an ordinary Dublin bar and hand over a tenner – and you’re asked for more.

Throughout the country, horrified tipplers are reporting that bar prices have gone crazy. More than €7 for a vodka and mixer, a tenner for a rum and coke, €5.60 for a bottle of lager, and even €7 for a small bottle of Ballygowan are just some of the horror stories that are being logged by consumers.

One of the greatest rip-offs focuses on soft drinks. A Fine Gael survey reveals that pubs in the capital were charging up to €4.70 for a mineral water and lime – €2.70 for the water and €2 for the lime. (Other typical prices were €3.60, €3.45 and €3.40).

And the Director of Consumer Affairs has uncovered disturbing evidence that some publicans hike their prices by €1 for major sporting events.

Last month, a 15c price increase from Guinness pushed even the price of the humble pint of plain into the stratosphere.

(Note: Dublin pubs change hands for an average of €3.2m and the price is usually two to three times the annual turnover in sales).

2. Eating Out

These days, even the humbles caff or diner thinks it’s Patrick Guilbauds. A simple cup of tea or coffee costs 46% above the EU average.

A tenner for a pizza has become standard. One subscriber to the website ValueIreland.com reports being charged €4.50 for a plain, unheated scone in a hotel self-service bar.

Ripoff.ie, the Fine Gael website, records such jaw-dropping cases as a €7.75 slice of quiche (in Galway), the €3 cup of tea (Donegal) and the 30c dollop of ketchup (Dublin). One parent had to pay €6.25 for a kiddies meal of three sausages and chips.

A formal meal for two in a reasonable restaurant has leaped in price to the €70 mark…more than most couples can afford.

3. Shopping

It’s official. Ripped-off Irish consumers pay more for their trolley load of shopping than anyone else in Western Europe or the U.S.

A new survey from the European Commission shows that Irish shoppers pay €1.40 for every 80c paid by their counterparts in Spain or Germany. Pampers nappies cost a staggering 164% of the Euro average here, compared with 63% in the U.K. We pay FOUR TIMES as much for fresh, ground coffee than they do in in high-priced Finland.

Meanwhile, the ripoff.ie website reports that supermarkets are charging a mark-up of up to 300% on fresh foods. For instance a farmer will be paid 20c for a kilo of spuds that will cost 80c at the supermarket till.

4. Banks

Quite apart from the overcharging scandals, the big banks are ripping us off on a day to day basis. Even in this electronic age, some banks claim it takes five days for a lodgement to go into your account. Meanwhile, they enjoy the interest.

Last year, an Oireachtas committee heard consumers had to fork out €1bn extra interest charges because some banks had failed to pass on European rates cuts. Banking watchdog Mary O’Dea described the difference as “substantial” and was “certainly not good for customers”.

A typical punter will pay €70 a year to run a current account – that’s 17% higher than in the U.K. Although switching to a different account can save you up to €220 a year, the banks make it hard for you to change. The cost of setting up new direct debits – up to €30 for a simple six orders – can outweigh any savings you make. This hurdle is about to be removed but it’s too late to repay the moment we’ve lost over the years.

5. Credit Cards

A recent survey by Consumer Choice magazine found that the average interest rate of our flexible friends was nearly 40% higher than in other European countries. They found an average rate of 16.7% – nearly 2% higher than the U.K. rate.

We could always switch around to find the cheapest rate…except that Charlie McCreevys €40 levy prevents us from enjoying any competition.

6. CDs and DVDs

On the website CDwow.ie, you can buy chart albums by the Scissor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand and Damien Rice for €13.99 each, delivered to your door. Non-current albums by major stars can be €10.99. In Irish high street stores, the same albums could cost you €16 to €22.

A recent survey by the European Consumer Centre found that a batch of five top DVDs cost €50 more in Dublin than online from Amazon.co.uk.

So, buy online for the best prices. But hang on… we need plastic to do that. And, oh yes, there’s that small matter of Charlies €40 tax, which cancels out any savings.

7. Insurance

Whether it’s car insurance, home insurance or health insurance, you can count on being ripped off in Ireland. Despite promises, motor insurance premiums remain sky high. Fine Gael claims that it’s become THREE times as expensive to insure your car in the past three years.

These days, a 22-year old nurse will be asked to pay more than €3,400 to insure a Renault Clio.

Plus, VHI prices continue their inexorable rise, and homeowners seeking home insurance are often charged more by their mortgage provider than by competitors.

8. Medical

Doctors and dentists were identified in a Forfas survey as among those who took advantage of the euro changeover to seriously hike up their charges.

The cost of a typical visit to a GP shot up by nearly a fifth, to €38, and since then has risen to €40.

Meanwhile, a survey by the Director of Consumer Affairs has shown that customers can be ripped off by as much as €1.43 on a basic pack of Alka Seltzer (dearest €3.99, cheapest €2.56) and 81c on a pack of Disprin.

And Fine Gael reports that dental work costing €1,600 in the Republic was performed in Enniskillen for only €270. Others are forced to go as far as Hungary and Cape Town to get realistic dental prices.

9. Retail

Repeated surveys have shown that U.K. chain stores with outlets in Ireland are ripping off their Irish customers across a range of products.

One survey by the European Consumer Centre showed that Irish customers of Argos were paying from €3 to €25 more for identical goods than their counterparts in the U.K.

And another recent survey by Fine Gael showed that Irish prices were up to 87% more expensive. A basket of five goods in Tesco in Ireland was 43% dearer on average than in the U.K.

Habitat was 25% dearer and Dublin customers of Argos had to pay up to 18% more.

10. Phones

Regulatory body ComReg reports that Irish mobile phone rates are among the highest in the world and are more expensive than in Sweden, the U.K., the U.S. and France. One major gripe is the punitive cost of roaming abroad.

As for fixed lines, greater competition should theoretically bring lo
wer prices to home phone calls. But much of the savings have been snatched back by companies with a series of stiff increases in line rentals.

Long distance calls to Australia and the U.S. are dirt cheap now (as little as 5c or 3c a minute), but you won’t find this reflected in your phone bill.


What causes the majority of traffic problems in Dublin city centre?

Dublin Bus do! At least thats the only conclusion one could come to after a couple of Dublin Bus bus rides last weekend.

I’m a frequent bus user – for work every day, and as much as possible for city centre visits at weekends. So it was with that experience the Friday and Saturday of this week have been amazing.

On Friday it took my bus 45 minutes to do the length of O’Connell street at 9am in the morning. Never has it taken that long. And this was the Friday of a holiday weekend – normally quieter than normal. To make this journey worse, the driver was in the wrong lane, and so, wouldnt let anyone out to walk. And on Saturday, something very similar, though not as much time taken.

And for as far as the eye could see – only Dublin Bus buses.

The Dublin Buses are in the wrong lanes for where they need to be going. So they then need to cut across 3 lanes to get to their stops. But then their colleagues don’t yield for them, causing mayhem.

Three times in those 2 journeys did the drivers end up stuck in yellow boxes. And not just a small overhang at the back or maybe the back wheels, but at least half the bus. Enough to block all traffic coming the other way, including the Luas.

Buses go down the inside lane of O’Connell street trying to make time, and then get caught behind the 46a or the 10 which are dumping 50 passengers off, and taking on 50 more. So the driver tries to move to the outside lane again, but again his colleagues won’t let him.

A good example are the bus drivers rounding College Green in order to go up Dame street, rather than around to Nassau Street. Coming off D’Olier street, there’s a choice of two lanes – the left one for Nassau Street and the right one for Dame Street – and invariably the drivers on my route would make their way along in the wrong lane – the left one, getting caught in traffic rather than taking the right lane and getting a clearer run to Dame Street.

Granted, the problems aren’t all of the drivers’ making. But surely there has to be a better way than having nearly all North to South bus routes terminating on one of two narrow streets in the city centre – O’Connell Street or D’Olier Street.

I appreciate that most passengers will want to get off on one or other of these streets, but there is more than just O’Connell street to cross the Liffey, and if people happen to be brought too far west or east, they have the Luas to fix that – if the walk is too much for them.

Of course, all this is going to get worse before it gets better if we’re going to see the start of work to join the two Luas services!


Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

hit counter