I don’t talk about personal experiences most of the time, but I have two things that I want to share.
I use public transport a lot, to travel up and down from Maynooth to Limerick. Two things I want to talk about, one that happened on the way down, the other on the way up.
Anyone who has used Heuston Station in the last while will know that the station has undergone some changes. They’ve installed automated ticket checkers and instituted some new station rules: primary among them the one where passengers have to stay behind the transparent doors in front of the platforms proper, until their trains platform is called.
I don’t like the new ticket checkers – they don’t save that much time and Irish Rail have to keep at least one guy monitoring them for those who don’t have the normal tickets or those who just can’t use them so they aren’t saving any manpower – and the “Stay on the concourse rule” adds problems.
Like the following: waiting for the 3.30 Limerick train on Friday. Irish Rail waited until 10 minutes before departure time to display the platform it was on: 6.
For anyone not familiar with the station, it goes like this: Platforms 1-5 are accessable from near the front. The rest require a short walk down the station. You don’t have to go through any ticket checkers until you’re nearly at the platform.
This whole situation was a problem, because not calling the platform until so late – even though there was only one train it could have been – meant you ended up with well over a hundred people, waiting on the concourse. And when the announcement finally comes in, those hundred fed-up, impatient people, all run down the station so they can get a seat.
Over a hundred people. Kids, prams, elderly. All running in a tightly packed mass. And it’s not the first time I’ve see it happen.
See, this would just be something I would shrug off if it wasn’t so easily handled. Just tell people where the train is or is going to be. It’s not that hard. There was only one train it could be. You don’t have to start boarding, just tell them. They’ll just end up congregating further down the station, but they won’t be running down in a large group.
If someone had fallen there, they would have gotten badly hurt within seconds. What would Irish Rail have done then? Would all the money saved on those ridiculous machines have been worth it?
Which brings me to Dublin Bus. Dublin Bus, I’ve never had much of a problem with. I find the services I take with them punctual enough.
They’ve made some service changes recently. I use the 66 and 67 services and these aren’t changed that much, they still run every half hour from Dublin City Centre to Maynooth.
But they have cut back extensively on the 25 service which goes to Lucan. This is a problem for me.
Here’s what happens. I arrive at the bus stop, where around 20 or so people are already waiting. 66 comes. People at stop step up to kerb. It’s packed to the gills and it doesn’t stop. 10 minutes later, the 67 comes. Same story.
It’s never happened to me twice in a row from this stop. Annoying.
90 seconds or so later, the 25 turns up. Everyone, bar myself and one other person, get on.
15 minutes later, another 10 or so people are at the bus stop. 66 comes by, everyone steps up to the kerb, it can only take one passenger. 10 minutes later, I’m finally able to squeeze my way onto a 67.
Then I get to thinking.
Firstly, the sudden lack of 25 services is obviously a problem, since they’re clearly very popular. Something Dublin Bus should think about, because they are going to lost passengers to the Luas and Dart if this keeps up.
But that’s not it. Because see, it didn’t have to be like this. Of all the people at the Bus Stop when I first got there, only 2 of them were going to Maynooth. They were all heading in that direction, but only 2 were going all the way. The rest were more than happy with a bus going only as far as Lucan.
But, when a bus driver with a vehicle packed with people passes a bus stop and sees 20 people waiting to get on, he won’t stop. If he see’s 2 he might stop.
So, if most of the people at the stop had not stood up and just waited for the iminently arriving 25, I could have gotten on the bus an hour before I did. For the price of 90 seconds everyone at the stop gets to go home on time, rather than everyone but the unlucky few who have chosen to live at the end of the line.
No, they get stuck waiting in the cold because of the lack of 25’s first of all and because us people, just don’t think about these stuff at bus stops.
But people are people. I can’t really complain about them, especially when they don’t even know when the next bus is coming.
The two situations do annoy me. I’m fairly sure they won’t be changing anytime soon.