Early-morning odyssey of international workers as capital lurches into action
Shiny buses with wifi and cosy carriages make for a satisfied commuter
The first bus
Number 4 from
It’s a freezing Monday morning and 300 buses wait to be driven out of Harristown Bus Garage just beyond Ballymun. Some are brand new. “The ones that look like sliced pans,” says bus driver Paul Kinsella pointing to a row of shiny buses. The resemblance is uncanny.
These buses have wifi, a few extra seats and impressive wheelchair areas. Inspector Tom Kitt is delighted with the new developments in Dublin Bus, electronic signage at stops and the journey planner app. “All of this has made us raise our game a bit,” he says.
My number 4 arrives and it’s one of the sliced pans. There’s electronic signage on board which means that even though it’s pitch black outside, you know where you are and you learn stuff like Provost House is Teach An Phropaist in Irish.
The bus, which crosses the city and ends up in Monkstown, sets off a few minutes late. One of the first people to get on is Algerian Rachid Madour, just off the night shift at Keeling’s fruit factory. He brings a book on the bus, and today he’s reading a translation of journalist Christopher Dobson’s The Carlos Complex: A Study of Terror. “Very exciting,” he says.
Beside him Nigerian Andy Zuluike, on his way to work at St Vincent’s hospital, complains that the bus service is fine during the week but “terrible” at weekends “up to an hour late sometimes”.
Lithuanian woman Arina Kaslinkaite is heading to her shift at the deli counter at Superquinn in Blackrock, where she has worked for the last seven years. “I love the bus service,” she beams a bit too brightly for this time of the morning. “No complaints at all.” With many of the other passengers giving out about the lateness of buses, Dublin Bus should sign up Arina as an ambassador immediately.
The first Luas
from Bride’s Glen,
This Luas, one of the newer models, is gleaming, thanks to the cleaners who come in overnight.
Before Glen, the driver, sets off, he gets something off his chest. He reckons those people who chance running, cycling or even driving across the path of a Luas must think trams are easy to stop.
“They don’t understand that it takes a lot to stop a 45-tonne Luas – there’s a 10m stopping distance. It’s not like a car.”
Wayward pedestrians, car drivers and especially cyclists are the bane of the Luas driver’s life, he says. Glen departs exactly on time.
Rosaleen Power gets on at Cherrywood. She works in catering and says that last year when the Luas extended out to Bride’s Glen it was a happy day.
“Before that I had to get the Ghost Bus, the 84X which was a pain . . . this is brilliant,” she says, clutching a magazine.
Anita Oman-Wrynn also works in catering in a bank near the Dublin quays. Her head is wrapped in a scarf and in the bag at her feet is a travel pillow. “I often get a little snooze on the journey, it’s a very comfortable way to travel although the woman announcing the names of all the stations is a bit loud,” she says.
Mark Devlin never sleeps on his way from Leopardstown Valley to St Stephen’s Green. He works in maintenance in Smithfield. “I like the Luas but it’s annoying that it doesn’t connect with the other line . . . I have to get off and walk.”
Heading to Blanchardstown, Joanna Dmitrous from Poland isn’t bothered that she has to take a bus after getting off at the Luas terminus in town. “But I do wish the 39 bus was on time. It is supposed to leave at 6.20 but never leaves before 6.30am and sometimes it’s 20 minutes late. I’ve waited an hour a couple of times.”
The first Dart,
If you are a first Dart regular, you know to wrap up warm. There’s a chill wind blowing down the platform at Howth where a couple of people are waiting to board the 6.05, final destination Bray. It seems nobody has a bad word to say about the Dart. Karen Pryal, who is heading to work at the Educo gym in Blackrock, says it’s “good, very good”.
The only thing she can criticise is that there isn’t a 5.30am train.
Wearing big headphones, 21-year-old Karen Roberts, a veterinary student in Dundalk, is as happy as someone who makes a four-hour round trip to college every day can be. She gets the first Dart into town and then a bus to Dundalk. “I’m used to it now – this is my third and final year,” she says. “But I am getting a bit sick of the travelling so I might move up there in January.”
The Dart is bright, clean and comfortable. You mightn’t fall asleep on a bus that has to lurch around corners, but it’s definitely possible on the tracks.
Adrenaline is keeping Melissa O’Donnell (17) alert. She is starting a new job as a waitress in a city-centre hotel.
“The Dart is going to be very handy, I’ll get off at Pearse Street.” She should be in fifth year in school but she left because she was bullied over the course of a year. “I think I made the right decision; it was unbearable. I do hope to go back to education at some point. I’d like to be a nurse,” she says.
Across the aisle, Rafeaela Ramos from São Paolo in Brazil is off to work handing out free newspapers from 7-9.30am in Blackrock. It allows her to do another job in a coffee shop and study English.
By the time we reach Killiney the morning light is creeping into the sky. Then passengers are greeted with those breathtaking dawn views across Dublin Bay arriving like a reward for all those on the early-morning commuter odyssey.