Travel chaos expected as last-minute talks aimed at resolving strike break down

Break down: Talks aimed at resolving the dispute have failed
Break down: Talks aimed at resolving the dispute have failed

Last ditch talks aimed at averting strike action in the public bus companies have broken down, meaning strike action will take place tomorrow and Saturday.

The Labour Relations Commission (LRC) had summoned management of Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann and the unions to exploratory talks this afternoon.

It was hoped the move would be a breakthrough as strike action by union members at the two companies looms.

However, sources have confirmed that bus drivers at the two companies will go on strike tomorrow and Saturday.

Bus lanes will remain closed to regular commuters struggling to make their way to work tomorrow as the 48-hour bus strike begins.

If you are commuting tomorrow here are a few important things to keep in mind.

1) The bus strike begins at midnight tonight, which means there will be no nitelink tonight or tomorrow night.

Have a friend living in the city centre? You had better call and find out if their couch is free. 

2) Taxi fares have been hiked by roughly four per cent, just in time for this weekend’s industrial action.

The charge per kilometre is increasing, from €1.03 to €1.10 at the standard time and €1.40 per km (up from €1.35) at premium times. And if the journey is long (over 15km) it goes from from €1.45 to €1.75.

3) You won’t be allowed to use the bus lane tomorrow, even though private cars were allowed to do so during strikes in 2000.

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe told Newstalk Breakfast that “bus lanes are preserved for public transport”.

A glimmer of hope for motorists lies in a letter written by Fianna Fáil councillor Daithí de Róiste to the Assistant Garda Commissioner in charge of Dublin, John Twomey, calling for him to open up the lanes to normal traffic.

Councillor de Roiste wrote in a statement:

“Up to now, the Gardaí have said that Bus lanes will remain in operation for the times designated by Road Traffic Regulations. The decision to open them is solely a matter for the Guards so I would encourage them to make the decision to open them up early today, so that commuters and those travelling across the city can make arrangements, safe in the knowledge that authorities are doing their utmost to alleviate delays.”

4) Irish Rail says it is planning for a normal day of service tomorrow, meaning that it will have no extra trains running to cover the strike.

5) For those of you heading abroad or arriving from afar, Aircoach says that they will have standby buses ready to go if they notice a surge in bookings.

6) Transdev says Luas trams will be running as normal tomorrow throughout Dublin city.

Bus Éireann chief executive Martin Nolan warned that any strike action could have dire consequences with the loss of up to €5m while Paddy Doherty, chief executive of Dublin Bus, said it would lose €600,000 for each day of the strike and discommode 450,000 passengers.