Protest over Dublin Bus cutbacks

 

Campaigners against changes and cutbacks to Dublin Bus services staged a protest outside the group's headquarters in O’Connell Street today.

The protest, co-ordinated by the fledgling Save Our Bus Services campaign, is designed to highlight the affects of the cuts in public transport services on the most vulnerable communities in the city, took place for two hours between midday and 2pm.

More than 100 people turned out, chanting: "No ifs, no buts, no Dublin Bus cuts."

Campaigners from Dún Laoghaire, Inchicore, Donnycarney, Dundrum, Ballyfermot, Ringsend and Condalkin will be "voicing their anger at the devastating cuts" to community services, organisers said.

Dublin Bus is currently undertaking a major restructuring of its services, involving the elimination of some routes and the re-routing of others, as part of its Network Direct project.

Campaigners against the changes have argued that further planned changes will cause unnecessary hardship for the elderly and the less well-off, many of whom are dependent on the services for getting around.

Senior citizen Lilian Carroll from Artane said: "They're proposing one bus every hour...by the time it would reach our stop it would be full. They want cars out of the city. They're not encouraging that by cutting the buses," she added.

Joan Clinton from Rialto said she lives on the 19 bus route and uses it to go into town and to Glasnevin Cemetery.

"What's great about the 19 is that it takes you directly to Glasnevin Cemetery. Now I'll have to break the journey by getting two buses and paying double the price as it's the same fare again for the second bus," she said.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said people were becoming prisoners in their own homes as a result of the cutbacks.

These attacks are an attack on the old, the less well off and the vulnerable, he said, adding "they're taking out routes that go into estates and to outlying areas...we think this is preparation for privatisation".

People Before Profit councillor for Ballyfermot-Drimnagh, Bríd Smith, said the company’s restructuring plan involved approximately 200 buses coming off the roads on the back of a €30 million cut in subvention from the Government.

While route changes can be negotiated and are in some cases “not a bad thing”, she said, the proposed changes will adversely affect the most vulnerable.

There will also be no direct link between Ballyfermot and Tallaght hospital if the company goes ahead with the cuts, Ms Smith said.

Nicola Curry from the 48 bus campaign said: “The cuts mean longer waiting times and packed buses that may not have room for all the passengers.”

“The elderly and disabled cannot be expected to wait for long periods of time especially when the autumn and winter set in,” she said.

Bobby O'Toole from the 46a bus campaign queried where the support for their campaign received in Monsktown farm from Labour leader Eamon Gilmore and local Labour councillors had gone?

“They marched with us on out protests last Autumn and promised to help restore the 46a to Monkstown farm but since the recent general election the support has disappeared,” he claimed.

Dublin Bus insists the changes are not intended to cause hardship but to improve and enhance services, and were being implemented in consultation with the public.