Over-priced, under-funded: the numbers behind Dublin’s transport system

The year is 2011, a jubilant Enda Kenny has been elected as Taoiseach for the first time, Labour are still a credible political party, the Arab Spring is in full swing and Donald Trump has just finished the eleventh season of the Apprentice.

More importantly at the end of 2011 the price of a one way fare on Dublin Bus is €2.30. The price of a trip on the DART is similar, €2.40 to be exact. The cash price for both Dublin Bus and Irish Rail has been increased every single year since then, as well as for Luas and Bus Éireann.

2012 and the same journey on the bus or the DART is suddenly more expensive. DART prices aren’t too heavily altered, with a four percent increase from €2.40 to €2.50. Dublin Bus is a different story however. Suddenly you’re paying €2.65 for the same journey you were paying €2.30 for yesterday, a whopping fifteen percent increase.

2013 is no different, with DART prices shooting up to €2.80, an increase of twelve percent. Dublin Bus went up by another 15c to €2.80, another five percent increase.

2014 encompassed a huge leap in price for both Dublin Bus and DART prices. They both leapt from €2.80 to €3.05, a nine percent increase on the previous year.

The prices have continued to rise since then, Dublin Bus is now €3.30 and the DART is €3.25. That means that in a five-year period Dublin Bus prices have increased 43 percent and DART prices 35 percent.

That’s just inflation though right? Not quite. When the percentage increases in public transport is compared to the average inflation in Ireland over the last five years it doesn’t add up.

The highest inflation has been over those years was in 2011, when it was 2.45 percent. It hasn’t surpassed two percent since then and was actually minus 0.3 percent in 2014.

Dublin now has the seventh most expensive public transport system in the whole world, ahead of New York, Berlin, or Barcelona.

That stat is made more ridiculous considering how poor Ireland’s public transport system is.

Dublin Airport is one of the only major European airports without any sort of rail connection. The new “Metro North” underground system won’t be operational until 2026, at the absolute earliest.

There are regularly waits of half an hour for a DART or bus, and sometimes even an hour in off peak times. This doesn’t happen in London or New York or many other major cities, where waiting times on public transport are rarely over ten minutes.

When all this information is analysed it doesn’t reflect well on Ireland and its transport system. If the price of public transport is so much how can the actual system be as poor as it is?

The problem may lie in the subsidies provided by the government.

Back in 2013 TD Clare Daly, then of United Left Alliance, claimed that Ireland has the least subsidised public transport in Europe and asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny to increase funding, especially to Bus Éireann to enable them to cut prices.

Kenny refuted this, but did not present anything to argue against it and while the funding to public transport has not been cut over the last few years it also hasn’t been increased, which may be where the problem lies.

In summary, Irish public transport rises on average by about eight percent every year, the Dublin transport system is the seventh most expensive in the world, Dublin Airport is one of the worst connected major airports in Europe and the whole Irish transport system is massively underfunded.

No wonder so many people have a new bike at the top of their Christmas lists.

By Leo McGuinn

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