LABOUR has promised to introduce a flat fare of €1 for passengers using Dublin Bus services if returned to power.
The party also says it would increase the company’s fleet by 500 buses to increase capacity. The goal is to encourage more people to use public transport.
The bus issue was the focus of Labour’s press agenda yesterday. Speaking on a bus temporarily acquired for the event, party leader Pat Rabbitte said the Dublin road network had been in ‘‘paralysis’’ since 2001.
‘‘The reality is that Dublin frequently comes to a standstill. With average speeds of 10mph, we live in a city that grinds to a halt when it rains and cannot handle even minor roadworks and road traffic collisions without serious congestion,’’ he said.
‘‘Average peak-time bus speeds have dropped to 8mph. Even on some Quality Bus Corridors, the average peak-time speed can be as low as 6mph, and as low as 3mph at pinch points.
‘‘The fundamental problem remains our utterly inadequate public transport system.’’
He criticised Transport Minister Martin Cullen for failing to provide for sufficient bus capacity. Between 2001 and late 2005, the minister had refused to sanction additional vehicles for Dublin Bus, Mr Rabbitte said.
This had condemned tens of thousands of commuters in the Dublin area ‘‘to the misery of long queues and deadly-slow commutes’’ to and from work.
‘‘While there are ambitious plans for the expansion of the Luas and rail systems, the bulk of our population will continue to depend for the foreseeable future on buses to meet their transport needs,’’ Mr Rabbitte said.
‘‘We are counting the cost of all this congestion in our pockets and in our lives. Business groups suggest that the annual cost of congestion could be in excess of €2 billion. There is the incalculable cost to people’s lives in terms of the loss of significant family and leisure time and increased stress levels.’’
Mr Rabbitte said the flat fares of €1 for adults and 50c for children would be introduced first. ‘‘You can’t go down to Tesco and buy 500 buses off the shelf,’’ he said.
But he stressed that, were Labour returned to power, the plan of action for the first 100 days of government would include sanctioning Dublin Bus to order the first installment of new vehicles.
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