Representation to the NTA
I regularly meet representatives from the NTA, Dublin Bus and Irish Rail. The following is a letter that I wrote the NTA:
I want to firstly acknowledge the recent briefing on the Metrolink revised proposal and again I had very good engagement with the project Manager Aidan Foley who I have found in all my dealings on Metrolink to be excellent. I really hope this project will get off the ground this time and will be delivered both on budget and on time. The region of Fingal deserves nothing less.
However, the main purpose of my email Anne, is to follow up on the current and future transport arrangements for Donabate/Portrane with both bus and rail. The issues I will highlight below are along the very same lines as I raised with both you and Hugh when you were both in attendance at the meeting in Leinster House organised by Robert Troy TD.
Within my email, I go into special detail around the issues in Donabate and Portrane. I would also like to acknowledge the assistance and help I have always received from Mr Tim Gaston on transport issues but especially covering the Donabate Portrane area.
As you are no doubt aware the Peninsula of Donabate Portrane is undergoing a period of significant growth in the population as well as the wider area of Fingal which is the youngest and fastest growing region in the country. However this growth is not been matched with the provision of Public Transport and I will go into both bus and rail below.
The Peninsula has only one direct bus service a day from Portrane to the City Centre the 33D via the Port Tunnel . This departs Portrane at 7.20am and returns from the City Centre at 17.45pm. This service is operated by Dublin Bus. In recent months, this service is increasingly full, even before it leaves Donabate and I have observed a trend of passengers going towards Portrane in order to make sure they get the bus. With the Train services significantly congested this is a popular alternative choice for passengers and is a fast reliable service via the Port Tunnel. However, we need more than one service a day and especially at peak times. I would also suggest, instead of this service terminating in the City Centre it should terminate and begin from Belfield UCD given the large number of students who attend UCD from Donabate Portrane. Given in all likelihood the long talked about Dart extension will not come to Donabate for many years, I would suggest as an alternative to the train a pilot scheme of high quality direct Bus Services from the Peninsula to UCD via the Port Tunnel should be trialled. This would be a similar scheme to both the Swords Express and Fingal Express and while I am no way promoting Swords Express and fully recognize open competition etc must be gone through before any public or private operator is awarded the service, Swords Express have indicated they would be very interested in providing a direct service from the peninsula to the City via the Port Tunnel.
I also want to raise a number of concerns with regard to the new operator of the 33B service from Portrane to Swords “Go-Ahead” . As a Public Representative for this area, I have been inundated with complaints of the bus not turning up at all or turning up late. The 8.15am service from Portrane to Swords all too frequently not turning up at all. Only today, I received emails from constituents complaining that no buses turned up for long periods of the day and when they contacted Go Ahead head office they were informed that there was no staff to run the service. If this is true what Go Ahead stated this is totally unacceptable in the provision of Public transport.
As I told you at the recent briefing in Leinster House ,the Donabate Rail Service is no where near the level or standards that is required for Rail passengers in Donabate. Many of the new developments that have been built in Donabate over recent years are all within close walking distance to the station which is good planning. However, the service has not kept pace with the level of population growth for the area. I am sure you have the figures yourselves but as someone who is very familiar with the area I have observed hundreds of passengers using the train from Donabate in the mornings and again in the evening pouring out of Donabate station. This is a positive development in many ways as developments are built closer to the station but Donabate rail commuters deserve far better. Many of the trains arrive into Donabate at peak times in the morning already at capacity. The congestion on the train can be intolerable especially for Women, Children and our Older Citizens. It is now regular for trains not to arrive into city stations at the expected time of arrival. Delayed regularly as priority is given to Dart Services leaving commuters on the Drogheda service waiting for lengthy periods in over congested, over heated carriages. I am aware from commuters that many previous rail users have stopped using the train due to the extreme overcrowding and lengthy journeys into the city and are now back driving cars into work.
So what I would like to establish
When do the NTA expect the Dart Extension to finally come to Donabate
Are there any short terms plans to provide for hybrid engines to accommodate both electric and diesel trains
Are there any plans to provide additional carriages at peak times to help alleviate the chronic congestion
Are there any plans to further improve services outside of peak times and at weekends
I would also like to take this opportunity Anne, to highlight the increasing incidences of Anti-Social behaviour both in the train stations, platforms and on the train.
In recent years, Donabate on a frequent basis are seeing a very small minority of youths mostly males using the train to freely travel between stations, some of these youths engage in serious anti-social behaviour and use the train as a quick entrance and get away from the village. In previous years, the permanent presence of staff prevented a lot of this but now with unmanned stations, a tiny percentage of youths are using the lack of a human presence to engage in serious anti-social behaviour.
To conclude Anne, I appreciate my email is lengthy and I have raised a significant amount of issues with regard to both bus and rail services for Donabate and Portrane but all of these issues are of real importance to our bus and rail passengers.
With both the imminent opening of the new National Forensic Hospital at St Ita’s Hospital Campus Portrane which will bring significant employment back into Portrane with of course a need for Public Transport and the continued building of housing within walking distance of Donabate Train Station, commuters on the Peninsula want to know what the NTA is planning in both the short term and medium term to properly address the number of transport issues which I have outlined within the content of this email. I do hope serious consideration can be given to some of the suggestions and improvements that I have outlined.
To conclude, I wish you and all your staff continued success in your very important work and I look forward to hearing from you in due course.