PUBLIC VERSUS PRIVATE
Sir, - In response to Mr John Henry's piece (August 29th), as a mere bus driver with Bus Atha Cliath, I would concede that I do not meet his criteria for expert status. Not possessing degrees in either traffic management or planning, I am forced merely to attempt to implement the ideas of those who have attained this exalted status. This includes attempting to make use of so called bus lanes in the centre city, in which the last object to be seen is a bus.
Did the individual who dreamed up Dublin's sole "Bus Only" street have a degree? Did whoever was responsible for dangerously reducing the pull in space at the No. 15 termini in College Green possess a Primary Cert? Is Mr Henry telling me that mass brainpower to the Nth degree has been unable to devise a method of allowing buses to have priority in Lincoln Place?
It is somewhat condescending to be addressed as a form of nitwit, simply because one does not happen to accept that £200 million spent on an LRT system is the best way to begin to sort out Dublin's traffic woes. I am not a LUAS basher, as defined by Frank McDonald (August 16th). I firmly believe, however, that this portion of the DTI/DTO masterplan is being prematurely introduced before it has been shown that the city actually needs it.
This LRT, costing £200m +, does nothing that the bus service could not do, given some realistic implementation of meaningful priority measures. Ten per cent of the LUAS budget directed towards the bus infrastructure would result in gains for many more citizens than will feel the benefits of LUAS. The studies and research carried on into LRT might have been better deployed on researching the unwillingness, or inability, of the Gardai to enforce what few public transport priorities there are.
Similarly, it needs to be ascertained why our city and county authorities, and the public transport service provider, are so often at loggerheads over even the simplest measures to improve the operating environment for public transport in the city. Make no mistake, if it comes down to any politician having to take an unpopular decision regarding private motorists' access to the city centre, then don't lay any bets on public transport winning out. The bus system now seems ready to be dismantled, pending the arrival of deregulation/competitive tendering.
The fragile situation in Dublin Bus simply does not reinforce the DTI's talk of a coordinated and strategic approach to transport in the city. In fact it appears the opposite is true, with the suspicion abounding that the bus service will be emasculated in order to provide LUAS with a ready made pool of disenchanted former bus customers who, no doubt, regard the shiny new tram as manna from heaven.
It seems that Dublin Bus, with passenger figures of 185 million in 1995 (a four per cent increase on 1994), is somewhat overly successful for some of the LRT protagonists. There are many staff at all levels in Dublin Bus who would testify to the need for continuing investment in bus priority - not all of the investment need be cash.
By far the greatest need is interest in moving the company forward. This interest is hard to find, when it appears that 8.5 km of LRT is to be afforded the long sought priorities which would have allowed the bus service to achieve acceptable levels of performance. The other 3,500 km is now deemed to be failing because the drivers are overpaid.
How very fortunate it is that at least there are whipping boys ready to be blamed. So, Mr Henry, please take a step back and pause for reflection. Look again at what £10 million would achieve if allocated to bus service improvements.
Once again, my apologies at my lack of a degree or expert status. I did, however, get an A in English in the Group cert in 1973. Would that suffice? Yours, etc.,