Train Robbery

It was so obvious it would happen sooner or later. From today’s Indo:

“THOUSANDS of commuters will have to fork out up to €500 a year more just to get to work from September.

Commuters and shoppers will be left counting the cost after CIE confirmed controversial plans for new ‘park and ride’ charges at dozens of railway stations.

The semi-state company has signed a contract with a private parking control and clamping company to introduce ‘pay and display’ parking at 37 stations on the greater Dublin commuter network, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Commuters from as far away as Longford and Gorey will be hit with parking charges of €2 a day, where previously they could park for free.”

This was inevitable once local councils started introducing Disc Parking on the streets around railway stations. CIE obviously feel “well, they’re making money out of it, why shouldn’t we?”

CIE Spokesman Barry Kenny, who at times has the most unenviable job in the world, had this to say:

“The experience shown in other public transport ‘park and ride’ facilities, be they operated by Iarnrod Eireann, Luas or local authorities, shows that commuters are not discouraged from using public transport, particularly with such a low nominal charge,” Mr Kenny told the Irish Independent.

“What we have seen in fact is an increase in the catchment area for public transport — those who live within walking distance of stations leaving their cars at home, freeing up spaces for people from a wider area to benefit from the parking facilities.

“With soaring fuel costs and high parking charges in cities, our commuting costs remain extremely low by comparison.”

If I read the first and second paragraphs correctly, he is saying that people won’t be put off parking there by the charge, but that people who live near the stations have been put off by the charge.

The third paragraph is smart-alec PR-speak. There’s no point comparing the costs against something else, compare them with what they were before. If you pay €103 per month for you rail ticket, as I do, then if my station was one of the ones involved the cost of my travel would increase by 31 per cent. Add the fact that I get tax relief on my rail ticket, and the increase is over 50 per cent.

His comment about the charges for parking at the LUAS are simply not borne out by anyone with any experience of Sandyford Industrial Estate. People do use the car parks there, but only after the council introduced double yellow lines on roads near the LUAS stops, and many businesses in the estate have problems with people parking in their car parks.

It doesn’t take a genius (or I wouldn’t know it) to see that people will simply take to parking on the streets and in the housing estates near the stations. The residents in these areas will then complain to their local councillors, and disc parking will be introduced in these areas. The parking areas will move farther and farther away, and eventually commuters will decide, to hell with this, I’m going to drive.

Has the Transport Minister anything to say about this? Have the Greens in Government any comment?

Doubt it.

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