Today’s post will fill at least one of my readers with horror.
There are two ways into Dublin from Greystones. There is the DART, our train service, and then there is the bus, the 84, the very name of which will make Jo shudder.
And I’ve given up my monthly Train Ticket and am getting a monthly Bus Ticket instead.
The DART is clean, quiet and reasonably efficient (certainly given Irish Rail’s definition of the word efficient). The journey takes 50 minutes, and because I’m getting on at the first stop I can always get a seat. The rail line runs along the coast, so that you’ve a sea view the whole way in, apart from the two sections where it runs underneath Bray Head, so that you go through two long tunnels. It is the obvious way to travel.
I’ve been doing it for years, and I hate it. It’s overcrowded, boring and full of girls with really loud ringtones, all with the same name (I know this because they all answer their phone and say “Hello, Amonda Dort”).
As part of Irish Rail’s improved service this year (and again, only in Irish Rail-speak can a reduction in the number of morning trains be called an improvement) the DART now runs from Greystones every 30 minutes. One day earlier this month I wanted to be at work at bit early, not half an hour early, so decided that instead of getting the 7.30 DART I’d get the 7.15 bus. Forty-five minutes later I was hooked.
Now I should explain to Jo, who is taking short breaths into a paper bag at this stage, that I am not getting the 84, I am getting the 84X, and the 84X is to the 84 what Eyjafjallajökull is to a scented candle. The 84 is a lumbering behemoth that weaves off the main road into every single bottleneck, picking up passengers in ones and twos at stops set twenty feet apart, like a bin-lorry on bin day. The 19-mile journey takes 90 minutes, and to put this into perspective it only took Apollo 11 three days to get to the moon.
The 84X (the X apparently stands for Xpresso, I think it runs on coffee) stops only at selected stops, and avoids the bigger towns on the way in altogether. At one stage it even travels along the motorway, where admittedly it is overtaken by absolutely everything, including kids on skateboards and grannies forced by sheer swearing frustration into making their first ever venture out of the slow lane.
And, at the time when people actually need to get to work, the 84X is very frequent. There are eight buses in the 50 minutes between 6.50 and 7.40, then one more at eight o’clock. And then, its work done, it vanishes for the rest of the day. It is the Brigadoon of buses.
It’s the same in the evening, there are five buses out of Dublin between 5 and 6.30, then it turns back into a pumpkin.
I ended up getting it most days this month, even though I’d already bought a train ticket, and from June 1st I’m switching full-time. At the moment I’m having so much fun I don’t even read – I sit upstairs, at the front if possible, letting the 10-year old me out again (I haven’t yet made a little hole in my ticket yet and blown into it, trying to make a sound out of it like a kazoo, though I’d love to have the nerve). I’m seeing places I’ve passed for years from a higher perspective, watching mad drivers, gobshite cyclists, lunatic pedestrians. The DART’s sea-view can’t match that, unless one day a Viking fleet hoves into sight.
So, there you go, a post about buses. You can’t say we don’t tackle the burning issues of the day here at WDB.