Monday, 4 January 2010

A sprinkling of snow and the place seizes up.

I was one of the unlucky souls who had to work on New Year’s Day. Usually I take the train, but on Sundays or bank holidays that’s not possible as the “service” is too infrequent to deserve such a description. As for gettting back home, the last train out of town to my place on such days is 8.48pm.

So I drove in with the other half and left the car in the Phoenix Park, and we walked/slid our way along the quays to get the benefit of a bit of exercise. The plan was that I’d go in, do my shift and get picked up when I had finished.

When I got into work I heard that all the buses had been cancelled - just like that - and there were poor sods waiting at bus stops for buses that were never going to come. I can’t verify this, but people on the Boards forum claim that Dublin Bus had nothing about the sudden cancellations on their website.

Later on I heard that the Phoenix Park gates were closed due to icy conditions on the park’s main road, which is an important artery running out of town to Castleknock, Blanchardstown, Clonsilla and beyond. Many of the roads around Chapelizod were closed too, so bang went the idea of getting a lift back home. The only thing for it was to take an early cut and get the (early) last train. At least I had that option - those living in places served only by Dublin Bus were well and truly snookered.

Even last Saturday, when we headed into town again (we had to), the Phoenix Park was like an ice rink. What’s more, the place was jammers with people who evidently had no idea how to drive in such conditions. That same evening, the park gates were shut again.

Question: Why did the Powers-That-Be find it necessary to shut the park? Haven’t they heard of grit?

Bloody hell. A couple of centimetres of snow and the whole country literally seizes up.

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Anonymous said...

Sometimes it is wise for public transport to be cautious…but it is nice when they tell us first…
I went to Monkstown swimming pool on Sat or Sun I think, by 46A from Dun L centre, but instead of swinging thru Monkstown Farm, the bus turned up Kill Ave, I got off (I was only 10-15 mins walk, from the pool by then, and my normal total walk from home was only 20-25 mins, tho on slidy pavements- my reason for getting the bus in the first place. I was surprised so I asked what bus I was on (Thinking I’d got the 75). The driver said it was the 46a and that it was now going up Kill Ave- no more explanation. 2 hrs later I waited 15 chilly mins on Monkstown Farm for a bus that didn’t come. I walked to Kill Ave (picked up another chilly wannabee passenger at another stop on the way) - then a 46a came down Kill Av. I enquired about the sudden change of route- he said the usual way was simply too slippery. I applaud Dublin bus drivers for taking this initiative- too often people here blithely go on with their usual activities at times when caution would be wiser- but, although I did not listen to radio that day I imagine there was little announcement by Dublin bus or other travel operators that if your usual road seems slippery, these operators may not use it. - Anna

Anonymous said...

The incident above reminded me of the time, 3yrs ago, my 46a bus stop on O’Connell St vanished…over the weekend. I was then commuting, got off at Connolly Stn, went to where my bus stop was …where, indeed I had last left it on Friday. On Mon morn it was gone, after searching frantically I found it, several shop lengths away, it was all new and poshed up (much more info and a map of route on it) but you would think Dublin Bus could have stuck a notice on it, the previous week, to say it was moving to outside a Spar shop. Incidentally I work near Parnell Sq and but usually walk down to O’Connell St to get 46a …so I can shelter in the Spar shop because on the main St of a EU capital city there do not appear to be ANY bus shelters. Yes you do occasionally see one around Dublin (they seem to be placed at intervals of 1 / per 15 miles of road) but are rarely placed where a large no will be waiting, namely around locations like major streets in the city centre). I lived in Belfast for a few yrs since 1980 and even then there were plenty of bus shelters round the city centre (now they have real time displays telling you when the next buses will come). Its in little details like that, tho ones that can really improve peoples lives, nonetheless, that this city really falls down- I am continually BEWILDERED BY THESE OMMISSIONS- does no one ever notice that other EU cities have plentiful bus shelters?? And you would think (maybe) that at least 1 or 3 very late night Dart services could run on New Yrs eve, instead of last one being 9 pm.
But yes the real issue is lack of planning for cold spells…as a child in rural South Armagh in the ‘60s and 70s even into the 80’s, every autumn I would see council trucks dump mounds of orange salt/grit rock by the side of some road in readiness for frost…. when that came the gritter lorries were out in force. Did that constant gritting policy happen here? Maybe not – one garage man, here, told me he always knew used cars from the North as they sometimes had rust/ salt damage…
I get used to the logic here, so no doubt someone will say that in those frostier times it was better policy Irish people were spared a little rust damage …so they could use cars as ice rink dodgems.
They might not even dump by the roadside now in the North (winters are not so harsh) but I’m sure the grit would be stored in a shed somewhere,.. Recently I read the “40 yrs ago” column in a Dundalk paper, an item on the fierce cold snap in 1967…anger was voiced at a local council meeting at the treacherous state of the roads…as no foresight had been given to having grit ready if needed…. and the 60’s REALLY had blizzards ….be vigilant in Groundhog Nation…it will happen again…and again ..and again…what DID Bill Murray do to break the spell?…Became a Nicer, More Caring Politician, oops I mean person, yes that is what we need from our leaders… or its 1967’s hard snap/ financial scandals/ health scandals, etc etc all over again - Anna

The Gombeen Man said...

Good point about the shelters, Anna. You're right, I don't remember seeing one on O'Connell Street or the other city termini. Mad.

As for Belfast having "real time displays telling you when the next buses will come", what can I say?

Sometimes, when I can't get the train or take the car, I have to get on the 37 or 39 (awful). All too often, the driver can't even be bothered flicking the switch to display the number, so you have to ask what bus you are getting on to.

Where else, eh?

Bernd said...

"And you would think (maybe) that at least 1 or 3 very late night Dart services could run on New Yrs eve, instead of last one being 9 pm."

Hear, hear ... spent a very enjoyable New Year's Eve in London a while ago, not only was the whole city in party mood and out and about without too many gross incidents (apart from that couple bumping and grinding against the pub window ... but hey, free show). London Underground also actually EXTENDED its operating hours far beyond what is normal.

And to top it all up the use was free for the night. Now that's what I call a public service!

Anonymous said...

Dear Bernd, before I left Belfast nearly 13 yrs ago to come here, Belfast Citybus were already running some free festive bus services on key dates, at key times :I can't remember which ones,( Xmas eve anyway , maybe New Yr eve, ) but ones where you could expect large nos to be out late- and to spare the population from cold late nights/fierce competition for taxis/high fares/having to drive after a few drinks/or risk of frosty season roads etc...all sensible reasons to provide free, late transport ..Anna

Anonymous said...

You are an angry wee man!

The Gombeen Man said...

Not sure about the "wee".

Anonymous said...

Here is an approx timetable of my
Public-spirited activities yesterday.

1.0 Tried Dublin bus website- crashed. Phoned Dublin bus, as I now permanently reside in Dun Laoghaire, Was 46A off? No. (Living in an upper-class town with the best travel links in the city, i.e. urban rail & speedy bus down a good dual carriageway has advantages even for a working class girl) So Dun L is Ok. Thank God. As I was on the phone thought I’d public spiritedly check other disruptions to email to all in my large government dept. The man began reeling off which services were OK, which were stopping short. I said can you just email it to me- Yes
1.00-2.30 Await email, & try DB website several times- crashed.
3.00- 3.30 Get thru to a girl at DB. I asked again for list of affected services, she begins reading them. I said is there much? Yes – 2 pages. Can you email it? - Yes. Do you have that typed out ready to email? No, I’d have to type it out to you. Is it on your website? - yes. Can you cut and paste it from your website, to email it?_ No - Our home page is crashed so I CAN’T GET INTO IT MYSELF. Amazingly the person who actually wrote this info on the DB home page, did not think of even emailing it/ putting it on a DB Intranet to make it available to the information line staff.
I then asked had the press office/ info line emailed this list already to any other public info services? EG City council,., Press & TV & Radio? NO. You’d think they’d be sending email updates to these bodies every 15 mins as the crisis slowly unfolded.
3.30 Tried RTE site. It confirmed that travel services were disputed and gave links to all travel services - including the (crashed) DB site .RTE did confirm however that Dublin Bus Were About To Issue A Statement.
3.31 Someone on my work intranet posted short statement from Dublin Bus- saying all services were severely interrupted…why did they not announce that earlier? Thru the medium of the cities broadcasting services? That way workers could have downed tools much earlier and just gone home, any way they could.Anna

Anonymous said...

1)Ulster TV website this morn:” Over 50,000 tonnes of salt has been spread on roads so far across N Ireland, @£150,000 a night. In previous years, the cost for gritting roads in N I has been £24,000 a night. Altho budget for the 2009/2010-winter season is being stretched, the Roads Service said they have adequate funding to continue gritting roads. Overnight the Roads Service deployed 134 lorries in what has become the largest gritting operation for many years, as temperatures continue to drop to minus 5C. “
2) I don’t mean to be always flying the (many & various flags) for NI- I don’t even want to live there myself- not because of the troubles, not because people aren’t nice there- It’s just because life Has been good to me in many ways down here- yet public services & management there usually knock spots off here- Belfast is a chilly city 110 miles further North , and even when I was on Belfast citybus website this morn, I did not get 1 mention of disrupted bus services.
3) In March 2007 I was in the (even further north Norwegian artic circle city of Tromso). This city of 80,000 had excellent constant city bus services, operating on clear roads tho countryside and rooftops were blanketed in 2 feet of snow.
4) Anyone watching the BBC programme Coast will have seen that salt grit rock supplies are mined from subterranean tunnels, which go out from the ANTRIM coast, therefore baffled by shortage down here…not as if it has to be imported…Anna

Anonymous said...

Part of the reason N Ireland has money for roads is because billions was not given to the billionaire bankers who thru criminal activities bled this country dry, yes the UK gave money to them as well , but not to the same level as this country had, also I read the British serious fraud office is now after Anglo Irish bank...tho no equivalent action is going on their home country ... does anyone know is Sean Fitzpatrick( former AI head) on one of his frequent visits to Barbados...while we are sliding on dangerous roads and pavements...Anna

The Gombeen Man said...

Says it all Anna... sometimes my mind gets tired from all the boggling at goings on in this place.

Colleague of mine had to walk home to Knocklyon yesterday. Just glad I'm on a rail line, bad and all as it is.