Travel time limit on Leap card must change

 

JUNE RUIGROK got in touch because she wanted to highlight a problem with the new Leap travel card. “We live within the short hop commuter zone of north Co Dublin,” she writes. “I recently subscribed to the Leap travel card for my teenage daughter, who travels once a week to the city centre. This avoids carrying cash and ensures she always has the means to travel home.”

Over the Easter holidays, Ruigrok’s daughter was doing a training course in Greystones, so the card was duly topped up with €30 which, added to the existing balance of €9, should have been more than adequate for the week as the cost of a single adult fare using the Leap card is €4 each way.

“To my surprise, on the morning of day three and after just four journeys, she texted to say there was just €10 left on her card. I checked the travel history online and found charges of €8.60 per one-way trip instead of €4.”

She contacted the Leap card help line and, after much debate, they suggested the double billing on each journey might be due to the 90-minute journey limit imposed by Irish Rail.

“Fortunately, I had registered the Leap card and therefore I had full access to the travel history. True enough, on further checking the journey history, after 90 minutes an additional fare is charged and no credit returned for the privilege of using the Leap card.”

She has reviewed the Irish Rail timetable and discovered it is virtually impossible to travel from north Co Dublin to Greystones within 90 minutes even if using full Dart-only journeys (eg Malahide to Greystones), rather than combinations of commuter rail and Dart.

“Add in the factor of arriving five to 10 minutes before departure time and that the timetable time for the Dart component of the journey is a tad optimistic – it seems to run about 10 minutes behind (according to our experience that week) – and you have a dysfunctional travel card.”

When Ruigrok first made contact with the Leap card office, she was told it would look into the issue, but said it was a matter for Irish Rail. Customer services at Irish Rail passed her on to their “Smart Card” office, “who said it was nothing to do with them and passed me back to Leap card.

“In fairness, my second contact with the Leap card back office pushed a resolution up the chain of command and a refund has now been processed for the double-charge journeys.”

However, her daughter was unable to use the Leap card for the subsequent journeys and had to buy day-return tickets for the remainder of the week in question.

While she has now had a resolution “after the event and with considerable persistence, I doubt the issue of the Irish Rail 90-minute journey limit has been changed and [it] will remain a problem for those in a similar situation.

“Tourists and visitors using the system are particularly vulnerable as they may not register the card and can then remain unaware of the double-charge issue until it is too late.”