Luas celebrates 10 years and 100m tickets

Tram services seen as a success but in advance of cross-city link there is concern over crashes

Nile Rodgers of Chic: a life-size cardboard cut-out of  the American musician  was among the lost property recovered from Luas trams

Nile Rodgers of Chic: a life-size cardboard cut-out of the American musician was among the lost property recovered from Luas trams

 

A life-size cardboard cut-out of American musician Nile Rodgers, a heart monitor, a wheelchair and a sack of potatoes are among the lost property found on Dublin’s Luas over its 10 years of existence. In advance of a photocall today to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Luas Green Line by then minister for transport Séamus Brennan, the Railway Procurement Agency has issued a fact sheet celebrating the weird and sometimes wonderful aspects of the tram system.

Some 100 million tickets for Luas trips have been sold since June 2004, when the introduction of the line was followed by four free travel days. Ten years on, Luas operator Transdev is not offering free travel but is instead giving away cash prizes of €1,000 a day for 10 days to passengers who access the twitter feed at @luas or the Luas Facebook page or website.

There are now 66 trams serving 54 stops on the Red and Green lines. Passenger numbers have grown from 6.6 million in 2004 to 30.5 million last year. The cost of the original Red and Green lines was €775 million and Luas is currently self-financing. Unlike CIÉ companies, it does not receive an annual subsidy from the Government.

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar and Minister of State Alan Kelly will this morning hail Luas as one of the State’s most successful projects. However, since its start-up 10 years ago, there have been more than 270 crashes between road vehicles and trams and the numbers are rising.

The increase – up from 24 collisions in 2012 to 38 last year – is of particular concern in advance of the opening of the Cross City Link in 2017. Some 60 per cent of all crashes have happened on the city centre section of the Red Line – the shared road space and junctions in the area representing a key danger for the trams. About 90 per cent of all Luas crashes have happened on the Red Line, where a tram can pass through light-controlled junctions about 800 times in a single day.

The main areas where crashes have happened on the Green Line are at St Stephen’s Green, Harcourt Street, Cuffe Street and Dunville Avenue/Beechwood Avenue, again at junctions with other traffic.

Mr Varadkar and the Railway Procurement Agency are so concerned about the rise in Luas crashes that they recently released videos depicting vehicles breaking red lights and crashing into trams. Mr Varadkar said the Garda would be mounting additional patrols in the high-risk inner city area and motorists would face fines and penalty points. The rise in the number of crashes does not augur well for the Cross City Line, according to Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Timmy Dooley.