2017-02-01 15:12:34 -
‘Rip-off’ public transport must be brought to account

It is no small wonder why Bus Éireann are in financial difficulties, with the prospect of withdrawing services, given their passenger-deterring fares. There is hardly a bus you can get on anywhere without breaking €10, or paying out up to a €100 or more for a monthly ticket. 

Bus Éireann have heralded the Leap Card as a cost-saver to passengers, but there are significant doubts about the zones or limits of these cards, as with many other cards and discounted services on public transport in this country.

The Leap Card also has a complicated system of cost-saving depending on what services are used and how often they are used, which is daunting. Savings may not be as transparent as they might seem, demanding high use and regular topping up to gain any benefits. 
Individual fares can also be irrational, with monthly returns costing far more that daily returns. What difference does it make what day you come back? A return should be a return. There is no extra expense involved for the carrier. 

Many buses are nothing but crates on a badly serviced set of wheels and offer no comfort. Just a long, drawn-out and bumpy ride with little ventilation. Buses can be filthy with rubbish and diesel fumes from the engine compartment all too frequently leak into the passenger area. There is simply no value for money, I’m sure many like me regret not getting a taxi, given the hassle. 

There is also a lot of waste in public transport with hundreds of ghost buses travelling around the country with no one in them, except the driver, which may go some way to explaining why fares are so high. The same is also true for Irish Rail, with their sky-high ticket prices and their lousy, unreliable services. They, too, are now considering cutbacks to their services.

The public transport system seemingly only exists in this country for tickets paid for by the public purse, such as free travel and contract rail tickets subsidised by public institutions. There must be revenue loss in this area which is ultimately passed on to unsubsidised users.

The way things are going, there will be very few people travelling on public transport in the future, as it offers very poor service and incredibly bad value for money overall. We have the most expensive public transport system anywhere in the world, with passenger numbers declining all the time, and it should be no surprise.

Privatisation is certainly on the cards for public transport in this country. It seems arrogant, presumptuous and foolhardy of the Government to claim it will remain a public entity, given the unsustainable mess it is in. Rip-off fares and poor service quality will be its own undoing. Meanwhile, the private car is here to stay.

Maurice Fitzgerald
Shanbally, Co Cork

Ireland’s double standards over animal welfare

In December, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, announced funding awards of €2,460,500 to 137 animal welfare organisations throughout the country involved in protecting animal welfare. An examination of the figures indicates the amount allocated is down from €2,541,000 to 140 groups in 2015.

This paltry sum, which is nowhere near adequate to deal with the myriad animal welfare problems around the country, amounts to less than four per cent of the amount recently handed over to the horse racing (€64m) and greyhound racing (€16m) gambling industries.
The comparison is striking. While funding to horse racing saw a €4.8m increase and the greyhound industry received an additional €1.2m, the money paid out to groups dealing with Ireland’s animal cruelty crisis was cut by €80,500.

Animal welfare organisations face an uphill battle to keep their services going. Existing on the proverbial financial shoestring they are forced to divert time, resources and energy away helping animals into conducting fundraising events.

It is ironic that this minister reduces funding for animal welfare organisations with hollow platitudes of concern for animal welfare, while being a supporter of two animal exploitation industries that provide a flow of cruelty cases to be cleaned up by voluntary welfare groups.

It is an outrage that with so much animal cruelty in Ireland, the Government chooses to prioritise the funding of racing industries which are contributing to the problem.

To add to Minister Creed’s shame is his refusal to implement legislation that would consign bloodsports like fox hunting and hare coursing to history. When it comes to Ireland, double standards and political cowardice is the balm for the people. Spending taxpayer’s money on cruel activities while reducing the amount allocated to curbing cruelty is something that can only be squared in mind of an Irish politician.

John Tierney
campaigns director, Association of Hunt Saboteurs
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