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Saturday 10 December 2016

I'll consider opening the bus lanes, says Ross as strike misery goes on

Dublin Bus staff striking outside Harristown Bus Depot, Dublin. Pic: Collins Dublin
Dublin Bus staff striking outside Harristown Bus Depot, Dublin. Pic: Collins Dublin

Under-fire Transport minister Shane Ross again refused to intervene in the Dublin Bus dispute, saying that he wouldn't be seen as "having a soft touch" but said he is monitoring the strikes "every hour".

He has also made a U-turn on his stance regarding opening bus lanes during Dublin Bus strikes saying he "won't rule it out".

Fifteen strike days are looming this month and next, as crunch talks between Dublin Bus and its workers have failed to yield any positive outcome.

When previously asked about opening bus lanes to help ease the flow of the extra volume of traffic, the Transport minister stated that it would be illegal.

Advice

However, yesterday he rolled back saying that he wouldn't rule out opening bus lanes to commercial vehicles.

"We looked at his very carefully and we're still looking at this very carefully. I'm taking advice from both the gardai and from the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

"I'm not ruling it out, you realise I'd love to do it, but the advice I'm getting is that there are serious safety issues and I have to take that into account," he said.

The minister added that he was keen that the bus drivers' dispute end.

"I'm not indifferent at all, I'm eager to resolve this and I feel great empathy for all involved, especially the communities who have been inconvenienced but I am certainly not inactive," he said.

Mr Ross was speaking at the launch of the European Day Without a Road Death - named Project Edward - at Garda HQ.

The imitative has been organised by Tispol, the traffic police network in Europe, and its aim is to have no road fatalities across Europe on Wednesday, September 21.

Meanwhile, commuters expressed their frustration on the fourth day of the bus drivers' strike.

Orla Shatwell (23), from Raheny, gets the Dart to work.

"This week has been a nightmare. There's so many more people getting on, the trains are always jammed packed," she said. "It's been so stressful every morning because it feels like everyone has gone crazy. If the strikes go on, it is just going to get worse.

"I understand the drivers have to deal with a lot, and I do think they deserve equal pay with the Luas drivers, but everyone else has to get to work, too. It's not fair for all of us to be held hostage."

Laura Surman (18), from Galway, couldn't get on the Luas at Jervis St yesterday evening because it was so packed.

"I've been unable to get on three Luas so far in the last 20 minutes, it's crazy. I've never seen it so bad.

"It was even worse this morning. I almost missed my stop because there were so many people crammed into the tram.

"The bus drivers aren't winning any fans with these strikes. I know a bunch of students at UCD who didn't come in Thursday or Friday. It was just too hard for them to get in," she said.

Packed

Peter Robinson (23), from Raheny, acknowledged that it has been hard on all travelling to Dublin.

"Everything has been packed. I live on the Dart line and it wasn't half as bad last week as it is today.

"I got on the Luas and I swear, it was like we're sardines - you had to peel people off one another it was so crowded.

"I don't know what the drivers hope to achieve with the strikes, they must have seen how pissed off everyone got at the Luas drivers. The same is going to happen here. People will just get fed up," Peter said.

Siptu member Owen Reidy hit out at the losses which Dublin Bus claim to have suffered as a result of the strike action.

"I hear Dublin Bus say they have lost €4m in three days of action, when we had talks with them they told us it is €600,000 a day, because they save on fuel and labour costs.

"So, I think we need to look at the facts of this, we are prepared to negotiate, we are prepared to concentrate but we need the other side to do likewise," he said.

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