herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Bus lanes will not be open to traffic during strike

transport

Bus lane
Bus lane
Paschal Donohue
Martin Nolan

Gardai have confirmed bus lanes will not be open to traffic in tomorrow's strike by bus drivers to which is expected to lead to commuter chaos.

In a statement released this afternoon, Gardai said that the bus lanes would operate as normal.

"An Garda Siochana in consultation with Dublin City Council and other stakeholders would like to advise road users that the bus lanes will operate as normal on the 1st and 2nd May 2015 during the planned bus strike.

The statement went on to say that the bus lanes only facilitate taxis, cyclist, private bus companies and the Emergency Services

Gardai also advised motorists to allow for extra time when planning their journey during the planned bus strike.

Earlier, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe insisted that "huge efforts" have been made to avert the industrial action.

He warned that Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann will lose €10m from the 48-hour strike over drivers' concerns about the privatisation of some routes.

While bus users scramble to make alternative arrangements to get to work and school, the cost to business will "run into the millions," according to AJ Noonan of the Small Firms Association.

He accused the unions of "holding the country to ransom."

Many commuters will turn to their cars which will lead to log-jam during rush hour.

READ MORE: Last-minute deal to stop strike possible, Bus Eireann claims

Dublin city councillor Daithi de Roiste today wrote to assistant garda commissioner in charge of Dublin, John Twomey, asking him to open the city's bus lanes to all traffic due to the impending strike.

"Bus lanes have been opened before and it would bring clarity to commuters if somebody could come out and do it again," the Fianna Fail councillor told the Herald this morning.

READ MORE: Taxi fares up 4pc as day of action begins

"All it takes is an announcement to say that gardai will not be enforcing the restrictions on bus lane use on the days of the strikes.

"Can you imagine the quays in the morning if there is going to be all that extra traffic trying to use one lane while the lane beside them lies empty. It will be very frustrating and there will be traffic chaos," he added.

The AA's Conor Faughnan said having the bus lanes open would be common sense but he said unfortunately it is not possible to change the law for just a day or two.

"What has happened in the past and what may happen tomorrow is that gardai on traffic duty might instruct drivers to use the bus lanes in areas of high congestion, but it would be inadvisable to assume you can use them without being given a direct instruction," he said.

"We can only hope that the gardai will take a pragmatic approach to the situation and that common sense will prevail," he added.

Minister Donohoe again this morning argued that there is no reason for the bus strike to go ahead saying that he has offered guarantees to drivers in relation to the tendering of 10pc of bus routes.

"Earlier on this week I made an intervention - any employee in one of these companies that would be tendered out will not be asked to transfer unless they want to," he told RTE Radio.

"While I absolutely understand these legitimate concerns, we can't get ourselves to a position where the principals of policy are determined by the people working for the companies," he added.

Both unions say they are prepared to go to talks at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC). Siptu's Owen Reidy today said that if the LRC lifted the phone today the union would "never refuse to engage".

"But It's not enough to say 'call off your strike and come and talk to us'. We need proposals that can be the basis of an agreement, and that is not forthcoming at the moment," he said.

"We'd like to be able to avoid a strike, and it's a pity things have come this far, but whatever would be proposed by the LRC would have to address the issues in dispute," he added.

"We can't march our men up the hill and then march them down again for nothing, and at this point in time it looks like this strike is going ahead," said Mr Reidy.

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