Thursday, November 24, 2005
I was all set to buy My First Car this weekend. Although I am dead against cars on principle [ruining the environment, clogging up our streets, let's all hug a tree etc], the fact of the matter is that I am absolutely fed up with having to rely on lifts everywhere and also, of course, with the only real alternative to a car when getting to work = a 50 mile round-trip every day: public transport.
The public transport system [if you could even call it a system, pah!] in Ireland is kinda dire. The buses are never on time, the trains are reminiscent of sardine cans, and the two lines of our fancy schmancy new light rail system don't meet in the middle. All new public transport projects seem to come in waaaaay over budget and are never delivered on time.
What I can't understand is why the buses/trains/DARTs/Luasessess* are in the sorry state that they are, given that Bertie And The Lads always spend more time and money on them than was originally forecast! I mean, if a project comes in over-budget and over-time, surely that should mean it's ultimately better than it would have been if the extra attention hadn't been lavished on it..?
Anyways, the bottom line is that public transport in Ireland is rubbish. In order for me to get to and from work without using an evil car [boo, hiss] I have to get two buses each way. That's to take me from Naas [major satellite commuter town only 25 miles from Dublin city centre] to Donnybrook [so close to the city centre that I don't think it can honestly call itself a suburb] and back. It can take anything from 1½ hours to 3 hours and goes through Kill, which wrecks my head because Kill is a small village which was by-passed about 20 gazillion years ago, an average of 2 people get on the bus there and it adds 45 minutes to the journey. Shouldn't it be a case of majority rules? People in Kill who want to get the bus should have to walk out to the main road and not be so bloody lazy, it'd only take about 2 minutes ;) And if that doesn't float their boat, sure they could always move to Naas.
Getting two buses is, sadly, just the easy option. If I really wanted to punish myself, I could get a feeder bus from Naas to the train station in Sallins [the station calls itself "Sallins & Naas" which is a joke because it's about 3 miles from Naas], take the train to Heuston, take the Luas/feeder bus into the city centre, and take another bus out to Donnybrook.
It's as though the Irish Government don't want me to use public transport..! And as anyone who watched Eddie Hobbs' Rip Off Republic over the summer will testify, that's not just my personal paranoia: they really don't. Sure, if I'm on the bus/train/DART/Luas, I don't have to go through a single toll bridge, pay VRT, buy - taxed - petrol, or get Motor Tax.
Now, some people will tell you that they wish they could use public transport to get to work. They'd love if someone else did the driving. They hate sitting in traffic. The sort of people who come out with these gems are invariably people who have never used public transport in Ireland in their lives. Oh sure, they've been on the Underground in London or the El in Chicago, but frankly there is no bloody comparison!!! And as someone who has 4 solid years' experience of relying on public transport to get me from A to B to absolutely flippin' everywhere, I can spot one of these poor sods at 100 paces.
I am so fed up with the complete horror that is the public transport non-system, I have decided that I want to be a ful-time motorist. It's a move I've been considering for a while, carefully weighing up the pros and cons and wondering how I'll feel about adding to pollution and so forth.
My decision was made a whole lot easier by the sheer horror that was my bus journey from Naas to Dublin this morning.
Oh God, it was just awful!!! It started well enough: got a seat at the window, happy daze. However, my tormenter got on just a few stops later and decided to plonk himself in the seat beside me. He was big anyway so took up some of my seat along with his own. He then [conveniently] "fell asleep" and just sort of spread out like rising dough. His left leg was skewways across the front of my seat to the extent that his left knee was actually in the middle of the back of the seat in front of me [try to visualise it and just feel the annoyance building]. He had his arms crossed but when he [conveniently] "fell asleep", his left arm sort of drifted out of place so that his shoulder was actually in my seat [not in the gap, in the back of my seat] and his albow was in my ribs. Also, he had a big f*off coat that he didn't bother putting up in the overhead shelf [that would be far too polite and convenient], he just let it hang over onto my seat. Even squishing myself into the corner couldn't actually remove me totally from his reach.
AND, to add insult to injury, he snored. For the whole 2 hours. Really loudly.
I've never been so happy to get off a warm bus out into the freezing cold in all my life.
Quite apart from the fact that I didn't pay 50% less for my seat and he didn't pay 50% more for his, it was just really rude. I mean, I'm not an idiot. I know there's a reason it's called public transport. I just didn't think it was now leave your manners and common courtesy at home transport.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to track down a navy Ford Ka...
*Fine so, genius. You tell me what the plural of "Luas" is.