Commuters asked to show a little patience if they come across some early confusion


Whatever about planes, those using buses, trains and automobiles may be faced with some confusion in the early days after the euro is introduced.

To avoid serious inconvenience, customers are advised to allow a little extra time for their journeys and to keep their cool while everyone gets used to the currency.

New year revellers are likely to be among the first to experience the euro and its ramifications as they wend their way home in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

But those taking taxis may not notice much change at all at first.

Mr Vincent Kearns, vice-president of the National Taxi Drivers Union, estimates that only about 50 per cent of the 7,600 taxis on the road will have their meters reprogrammed and verified by tomorrow.

But even those with euro meters won't be in a position to hand out euro notes as change in the early hours of the changeover. Unlike retailers, Mr Kearns says, taxi drivers were not provided with euro notes by the banks so all they will have at first is a supply of euro coins.

As a result, a taxi driver getting a £50 note is unlikely to be able to give back change in euros until the new currency starts to flow into the system.

Taxi customers however will notice that the cost of journeys will rise from tomorrow under fare increases agreed by local authorities in Dublin. From the new year, the minimum fare will be €2.75.

For journeys taking place between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., passengers will be charged 15 cents for every one-ninth of a mile or 30 seconds or part thereof. From 10 p.m. until 8 a.m. and on Sundays and public holidays, this will cost 20 cents.

Those opting for public transport will find that all bus fares will be rounded down to the nearest five cents.

For example, a £1.15 fare directly converts to €1.46 but will be rounded down to €1.45. The 60p fare becomes 75 cents, an 85p fare will cost €1.05 and the £1.05 fare becomes €1.30.

Pay slots on Dublin Bus have been fitted with a warning asking customers to pay for their journey in one currency only during the changeover period. To prevent delays at bus stops, drivers will not issue change tickets to customers during the first three weeks of the changeover period.

Bus ╔ireann fares will be rounded down to the nearest five, 10 or 20 cents, except for city services fares where there will be a straight conversion.

For example, a return journey from Dublin to Galway, which currently costs £12, will be priced at €15.20 instead of the exact conversion price of €15.24.

Fares for DART, suburban and Intercity services will be converted exactly to euro amounts or rounded down from January 1st as part of Iarnr≤d ╔ireann's "Fare and Square" policy.

The company is requesting that rail-users allow extra time to buy tickets and tender the exact fare in one currency only during the changeover period.

Information leaflets, including fares conversion tables, are available at all stations.

Iarnr≤d ╔ireann is also urging customers to buy pre-paid weekly, monthly or 10-journey tickets to help ease rail station queues, according to Mr Barry Kenny, spokesman for the company.

For those using their cars, pay-and-display parking units in Dublin are already fully euro-compliant and charges will be converted directly to the euro rate.

Drivers will not have to pay using awkward amounts of coins as the length of time will instead be adjusted to ensure the public don't lose out during the changeover.

For example, a £1-an-hour zone will cost €1.30 rather than the exact conversion rate of €1.27 but users will receive an extra minute of parking time.

Customers will have a choice of which currency to use until February 9th when pay-and-display machines will only accept euro coins.