Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dublin Bus: Get people out of their cars? We compete against the Luas!

More Lunacy from Semi State bodies. This time John Lynch, the man in charge of Dublin's bus service, explains why having increased bus services in the past few years in line with the government's stated goal of encouraging public transport over private motor cars they are now cutting services:

These increases were delivered in a more competitive environment, including the introduction of Luas (tram) services, and the growth in private bus operators, and reflect the success of, amongst others, quality bus corridor development, enhanced commuter services in our cities and regions, and the improved quality of our fleet.

However, the economics of public transport are simple – if there are fewer people working, if there are fewer people shopping, if there are fewer people socialising and making discretionary journeys, there is less demand for public transport.

The key phrase, in case you missed it, is "a more competitive environment, including the introduction of Luas services, and the growth in private bus operators". Even though public transport is a classic example of a network effect and the Luas is in fact good for bus services Mr. Lynch appears to think that other providers are the competition he needs to worry about. And there was I thinking that his government mandated role was to compete against the automobile. Surely now, with many families realizing that they can no longer afford several thousand a year to own and operate two cars this is the time to be pushing the benefits of affordable public transport?

And don't think Dublin Bus is a customer focused organization either. For readers who aren't from Dublin and haven't alreadty encountered this Kafkaesque piece of customer service this is the procedure for getting change back when you get a bus ticket:

Q. How do I collect my change?
A. If you pay more than the exact fare on any bus, the driver will issue you with a refund ticket for the overpayment. This passenger refund ticket, together with your travel ticket, must be presented to Dublin Bus headquarters (59 Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland) in order to claim refund for the overpayment. Note that we cannot refund without both tickets being presented.

The primary purpose of most semi state bodies in Ireland is self-perpetuation with occasional outbursts of empire building, and if the taxpayers somehow see a benefit then good for them.

A great of example of this is that until the music stopped a couple of months ago Irish Rail was promoting a truly lunatic scheme to build an underground railway between the capital's two main train stations. Which is a great idea if you ignore the fact that such a tunnel already exists....

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