‘Don’t fob me off’: Luas passengers vent their anger

Cyclists complain about broken bones following crashes on light rail tracks

The NTA said the new Luas service improved with the introduction of longer trams.

The NTA said the new Luas service improved with the introduction of longer trams.

 

“I’ll start by saying I have never written a letter of complaint to a government department before,” begins the email ominously - one of dozens received by the National Transport Authority concerning the new Luas service. Inexperience notwithstanding, the writer soon finds their rhythm, upbraiding the NTA about overcrowding before signing off: “disgrace!!!”

In the months following its opening, the extended Green Line drew the ire of commuters, bus passengers and cyclists. The NTA released the above email as part of an FOI request seeking passenger feedback since the service started operating in December.

Several complaints contained the signature, “Sent from my iPhone” suggesting the writer drafted their message as they crawled through city centre traffic. “I write this as I sit on my bus,” tapped one. “The traffic has never been worse,” said another. One passenger said there were “about another 20 buses in front of us” while another said the delay between the GPO and Trinity was “Crazy!”.

Risks to cyclists

By and large the complaints focus on overcrowding, delays to buses and risks posed to cyclists. There was not a great deal of positive correspondence. The NTA received the majority of complaints before the introduction of longer trams in February, which helped ease congestion on the line.

One woman described a two-hour journey from Stepaside to the city centre which was held up after the doors of her Luas broke in Milltown because of overcrowding. She said there was no point complaining to Luas. “You may as well complain to a Teflon frying pan.”

Another commuter said her and her daughters’ “very comfortable” journey into the city centre had now turned into an “extremely uncomfortable” and “squashy” experience. Some morning passengers, according to one email, even started taking outbound trams so they could catch the inbound service before its carriages filled up.

“There certainly were issues with Luas capacity and frequency in the early weeks of the operation of the extended Green Line”, acknowledged an NTA spokesman. But he said this has been addressed by the introduction of longer trams - the 55m Alstrom Citadis 502 - in February, six of which are now in operation with a seventh coming into service this month. Congestion in College Green was dealt with by rerouting some bus services and restricting taxis from the area, he added.

“As a result, the Luas Green Line journey time from St Stephen’s Green to Broombridge has settled to approximately 24 minutes and this forms the basis for the new timetable that will operate from June 25th,” he said.

But cyclists have also complained about the new Luas with several letters describing bad injuries following crashes on the line. One cyclist swerved onto the tracks at Dawson Street to avoid a car. “The wheel of my Dublin Bike lodged into the track and I fell to the right, breaking my elbow,” they said.

Parnell Street

In April a cyclist wrote with details of a crash they had on Parnell Street when their wheel got stuck in the tracks. “I sustained injuries to the right side of my face and cut and broke my nose,” they wrote. The cyclist required surgery on their nose and at the time of their letter had paid nearly €250 in medical fees with an invoice for the surgery expected. “Since my accident I have heard anecdotes of many similar accidents having occurred. It would appear to me that this is a significant and often serious safety problem that is not being addressed as far as I am aware.”

On a less serious matter, one passenger complained that since the platform extension at St Stephen’s Green, trams now pull up further than they used to but the Leap car validators have not been moved. “This means anybody exiting the tram from the first three doors needs to walk back towards the oncoming crowd to tag off.”

While another passenger, clearly angry at being delayed by a “stranded Luas”, took exception to a recent radio appearance from the Luas boss. “Don’t fob me off like you tried with Mary Wilson,” they wrote.