Luas strike: Getting a bus like ‘The Hunger Games’

Commuter: At this stage they ‘should rip this line up and replace it with a greenway ’

Luas strike: Crowds of people wearing suits and runners with rucksacks on their back and coffees in hand decided the fastest way to get to their destination without the tram service was on foot.  File photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Luas strike: Crowds of people wearing suits and runners with rucksacks on their back and coffees in hand decided the fastest way to get to their destination without the tram service was on foot. File photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

It was traffic chaos around Dublin as the Luas services came to a stop for a 10th day as part of the pay dispute.

But as the car horns beeped and buses waited patiently to get through the increasing delays during peak hours , there was a “highway of calm and peacefulness” as thousands of commuters walked along the shut down Luas lines to get to work.

Crowds of people wearing suits and runners with rucksacks on their back and coffees in hand decided the fastest way to get to their destination without the tram service was on foot.

Overall, there was little sympathy for the Luas drivers but an acceptance the staff had a right to strike and fight for better pay and conditions.

About 90,000 passengers faced travel disruption again on Wednesday as Luasdrivers stop work as part of an on-going campaign for improved pay and conditions.

Sally Lyons, from Goatstown, said she would normally use the Luas to commute daily and had not realised there was another strike scheduled for Wednesday.

“I don’t have sympathy for the drivers. They are fairly well paid in comparison to other similar jobs around Europe and everywhere else,” she said.

Mark Grealish, Windy Arbour, said his previous experience of getting the bus during a strike was like “The Hunger Games” and “way too hard”.

“It’s quicker to walk. I think they should rip this line up and replace it with a greenway because at this point , that’s just what it is. The green line will become a greenway,” he said.

Mr Grealish said commuters were frustrated with the inconvenience of the increasing number of strikes.

“You’ve two parties neither of which will give any ground and we’re the ones suffering,” he said.

“I understand the drivers position and what they want but they are asking for a bit too much.

“I hope they can sort it out. At this point both sides are entrenched and have their backs up, it’s more about losing face.”

Michael Redmond said his journey on foot would take about 1.5 hours from his home in Dundrum.

“It’s a bit annoying, they should sort it out. But we’re lucky today it is a nice morning,” he said.

“ I understand where they (the Luas drivers) are coming from but they have to be reasonable as well.

“People are being told by the Government things are picking up and some feel can go back to boom level salaries again, pre-austerity wages, which is probably unrealistic but that’s what their expectation is.”

Coffee shop owner Michael O’Donovan said it had become a common sight seeing hundreds walking along the track.

“It’s nice seeing people walking past and chatting away,” he said.

“It’s in contrast to the road which is mad this morning, there’s beeping and aggression going on, people are getting very impatient and then there’s this superhighway of calm and peacefulness going through the middle of it all.”

Mr Donovan, whose business Mima Coffee is at the Beechwood stop in Ranelagh, said the atmosphere around the area changed during the days the line was shut down.

“The biggest change is the Luas normally acts like ticking clock behind people and people are normally impatient to get their coffee. When the trams are not going there’s a much more peaceful atmosphere,” he said.

“The strike is a nuisance but people are trying to find a positive especially when it’s a nice day like this morning. When it’s raining it’s a different story.”

Tod Walsh said he also did not realise it was another strike day until he arrived at the station and decided to walk to work.

“I’ve no sympathy for the drivers. They need to have a reasonable expectation of salary,” he said.

“From what I’ve read the negotiation tactics are a little bit hard-lined and with such outlandish figures to start with didn’t help.”

Goretti Murphy, who lives in Cowper, said it was a pity to see the Luas services come to a stop.

“Today, I feel more frustrated than I have in the past. I realise the drivers have a right to strike but the longer it goes on the more exasperated the public is becoming,” she said.

“When I came to the station I saw lots of people on the tracks, it is surreal. You can hear people’s footsteps behind you as you walk along, and it’s so quiet. like something from a movie.”

Ms Murphy said she would also walk back home from the city after work.

“The last strike I took the bus home and it was unreal, just crazy, no one could get on they were so packed,” she said.

“I hope they sort this out soon.”

Drivers are expected to serve notice over the coming days for further strikes at the Dublin light rail system.

Further stoppages are already planned for Friday, May 13th; Friday, May 20th; Thursday, May 26th (four hours from 3pm–7pm) and Friday, May 27th