New York City: The Answer to all Your Student Budgeting Holiday Nightmares

Tired of constantly searching for flights to a place far away? Look no further than taking a bite out of the Big Apple this Easter, writes Dylan O’Neill

More public transport journeys despite 2016 strikes

Most Dubliners chose to travel on Dublin Bus in 2016 according to new figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Over 125 million bus journeys were taken over the course of the twelve months. The number of bus journeys taken in 2016 jumped 2.7 percent from 2015.

Source: CSO

November was the most popular month for Dublin Bus, with 11,318,902 journeys taken. A sharp decrease in Dublin Bus journeys was seen in September 2016. That coincided with the bus strikes which plagued the capital across five days in September.

DB monthly
Source: CSO

Rail journeys in 2016 increased to just shy of 43 million, up from just over 39.5 million the previous year. This gave a total increase of 7.96 percent.

Source: CSO

While the total number of journeys taken across all Irish Rail services (including DART and commuter services) took a hit in 2013, the total number of journeys have increased by an average of 5.2 percent per year since.

Source: CSO

Overall, 44.3 percent of all rail journeys taken in 2016 were on the DART. DART journeys increased to nearly 19 million in 2016, an increase of 10.7 percent from 2015. DART journeys also increased dramatically in 2015, up 7.5 percent from the previous year.

The only form of public transport in Dublin that did not see an increase in 2016 was the Luas. There was a decrease of over 500,000 journeys.

Source: CSO

This decrease of 1.65 percent was uncharacteristic for the Luas as journeys had increased year on year from 2012 to 2015.

The Red Line proved to be more popular with commuters, with 22.4 percent more journeys taken on the Red Line than the Green Line in 2016.

Luas lines
Source: CSO

Like Dublin Bus, the Luas was also hit by twelve days of industrial action in 2016. This can be seen in the sharp decrease in the amount of journeys taken on the Red Line between April and June. The strike did not, however, seem to have as dramatic an effect on the Green Line, with journeys increasing between May and June despite several strike days.

These figures, announced last week as part of the CSO’s annual travel omnibus, are released as further transport strikes threaten to leave commuters stranded. Iarnród Éireann strikes are set to affect more than 150,000 daily commuters amid rows over pay. Rail workers are looking for 11 percent pay increases over the next three years.

The first strike took place on Wednesday 1st November, with further strikes planned for the 7th, 14th and 23rd of November, as well as the 8th of December.

Reports in Irish newspapers recently suggested that workers may also strike on Christmas Eve.

By Louise Burne

Diageo unveils big plans for St. James’s Gate

Plans for the redevelopment of St James’s Gate site in Dublin have been unveiled by Guinness owner Diageo, reports Keeva Tyrrell.

The international drinks company, Diageo, plans to develop an estimated 12.6 acres of the St. James’s Gate site into a new urban quarter for Dublin.

Diageo said due to the advancements in technology, it can now brew its product in a smaller space thereby leaving a surplus of space for the company to use for other investments.

The urban quarter will be situated in the popular Guinness brewery in the heart of the city centre.

Diageo Twitter
An artistic drawing of the new Diageo facility in Dublin 8. Source: Twitter

The redevelopment project would transform the Dublin 8 area and would also be one of the largest developments in the city centre in many years.

Diageo have received planning permission for a €25m development “to provide craft distillery and [a] visitor centre in what was their power station on Thomas Street,” said a spokesperson for Dublin City Council.

The new urban quarter will feature a mixture of commercial and residential space along with public spaces and streets that will be integrated within the Liberties area.

Diageo redevelopment in Dublin 8

The residential aspect of the area should prove to be appealing for those looking to set up a new home in the coming years and with the Living City Initiative from Dublin City Council, it could be a smart move to make.

The Living City Initiative focuses on encouraging people to live in historic centres in cities like Dublin.

“The aim of the Living City Initiative is to bring life back to the heart of the cities by offering tax relief for qualifying expenditure incurred on the refurbishment or conversion of certain buildings were conditions are met,” said a spokesperson from Dublin City Council.

The spokesperson said: “The initiative is designed to encourage the renovation and reuse of pre-1915 city centre properties and there are so many such properties in the Liberties so there is great potential for further renewal in Dublin 8.”

Diageo Twitter 3
Source: Twitter

Fáilte Ireland were happy to welcome this proposed development at the St. James’s Gate site with Guinness Storehouse being Dublin’s most popular tourist attraction last year, attracting over 1.6 million visitors through its doors.

“We are thrilled that this development, which builds on the industrial heritage of the area, will be located along the Dubline, an orientation route for visitors that runs through the heart of the city from Parnell Square out to Kilmainham Gaol,” said Keelin Fagan, Head of Dublin Programme with Fáilte Ireland.

The upgrade of the site is one of a long list of developments that have been planned and some which have already been achieved in the area.

“Along with other exciting developments such as ongoing public realm improvements that have been funded by Fáilte Ireland and Dublin City Council, the recently opened Pearse Lyons Distillery and Visitor Centre, new cafes and restaurants, and Diageo’s own planned Roe & Co Distillery and visitor centre on James’s St, this area of the city is becoming an ever more attractive destination for overseas visitors,” said Ms. Fagan.

Ryanair navigating turbulent times

By Gavin Hyland

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has decided to ground 25 of the airlines 400-strong fleet in order to stem the flow of cancellations this winter.

Ryanair is often in the news but it is not their flash sales that have people talking. The largest budget airline in Europe has cancelled over 300,000 bookings for September and October with a further 400,000 cancellations stretching until March 2018.

The airline put the cancellations down to pilot leave all accumulating at the same time but reports have suggested that the Irish airline is losing pilots to competitors such as Norwegian Air and EasyJet.

Ryanair has denied these reports but there will be concern at the expansion of these companies in a market previously dominated by Ryanair. Norwegian Air have ordered 200 aircraft to add to their growing fleet.

Ryanair figures

EasyJet are competing with Lufthansa as potential bidders for the struggling Air Berlin as part of their expansion. The British airline also capitalised on the struggles of Ryanair by announcing a further aircraft will operate their Belfast to London Stansted route, just days after Ryanair announced it was cancelling this route for the winter.

Kenny Jacobs, Chief Marketing Officer for Ryanair said: “90% of customers affected by the 18,000 schedule changes from November to March will be re-accommodated or refunded by October 1st.” It is not known if the company reached that target.

The financial fallout of the cancellations is still unknown. It is the reputational damage inflicted by the cancellations and its management that will worry Ryanair bosses.

The company announced over 1 million seats were on sale on September 29th on assurances that there would be no further cancellations, only for 400,000 more bookings to be cancelled, including some of those purchased on the September 29th sale.

A Break From The City: The Lake District

By Emily Hull

England’s Lake District has an alpine feel to it, with snow capped mountains, frozen edges of lakes, and evergreen trees covering the mountain sides in late November.

The Lake District is more famous for its lakes than its mountains, but it hosts more than 200 hills and mountains, along with the dozen lakes.

Located in Cumbria in the north east of England, the Lake District is home to the longest and deepest lake in the UK. Lake Windermere stretches for almost seventeen kilometres through the valleys of the surrounding mountains.

Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain at 3,209 feet, or 978 metres, can also be found in the heart of the area.

Across the lake.JPG
(Source: Emily Hull)

A holiday in the Lakes means an outdoor and active holiday. There is no lounging by the pool – it’s sailing in the lake, climbing a mountain, cycling the mountain roads, or fishing in the lakes and rivers.

Hillwalking and climbing are the most obvious choices of activity, and so walking boots are a must to bring with you, but depending on what time of year you go, there are different choices of activity.

On some of the lakes you can go paddle boarding in the summer, but for the rest of the year, staying out of the water is necessary.

Outdoor activities are best done in the morning while there’s still plenty of light. The sun sets early in the winter at around 4pm, but because of the low winter sun, it gets dark at around 3pm when the sun goes behind the mountains.

Mountain biking is one of the big attractions for tourists in the Lakes. Whinlatter Mountain biking trial is hailed as one of the best trails in Britain. Rising above Bassenthwaite Lake just outside Keswick, Whinlatter forest is England’s only mountain forest, and the man made trails that you can ride are maintained and upgraded year round.

The Altura centre gives riders three trial options, a blue route for new riders, and two red, longer and more technically difficult routes for the experienced riders. Altogether there are 28km of trails, which are being constantly maintained.

(Source: Emily Hull)

The centre has a great cafe and gift shop as well, so if you decide that biking isn’t for you, you can hang around the centre, or go for a walk on one of the many walking trails available.

The District is well equipped for tourists. Cumbria is home to more microbreweries than any other British county, as well as several Michelin starred restaurants. There are loads of cafés, shops, restaurants and pubs, and also plentiful accommodation.

If you’re travelling with a group, it would be a good idea to rent a cottage out for the duration of your stay – that way you can cook for yourselves, do your own washing, and have space where you can all socialise. Aside from self catering cottages, there are many bed and breakfasts, guesthouses, or hotels to choose from.

If you’re travelling to the Lake District from abroad, you’ll need to rent a car to get around. The UK does have a good public transport system, however, there won’t be direct buses to your accommodation.

Flying to Manchester airport or Leeds Bradford are the best options for flying. It’s also possible to drive via ferry – but this will take significantly longer.

Here’s a short video of some of the highlights of hill-walking in the Lake District!

USA Graduate Visa program to continue in 2017  


By Colm Phelan

The US Graduate visa program is going to be available for Irish students for the coming year after speculation the program would stop this year.

This means that students graduating in 2017 will have the opportunity to travel and work in the United States for a period of one year.

(Source: Pixabay)

USIT, one of the leading travel offices in Ireland for students, will begin offering the program to prospective graduates within the next fortnight.

“It should be opening in the next week or two,” said a representative for USIT.

“It was [a] pilot program which was set up until 2014 and then they extended it for two more years, so the end of this year. Then it was just under review for the past couple of months but it will be going ahead for next year.”

However rival company SAYIT, part of the company GoForLess, will not be offering the program next year and have advised candidates to look elsewhere.

A representative for SAYIT said: “I’m afraid we’re not offering that program as it’s closed at the moment. It’s been closed for just over a year now, we don’t have any time frame for when it will open again.”

There had been speculation that the program may be abandoned with the election of Donald Trump. Trump has been clear on his policies regarding immigrants and stricter border patrol, as well as visas to enter the USA.

In August of 2015 Trump declared that were he to be elected he was going to abolish the J1 Visa, which allows full-time third level students in Ireland to travel and work in the United States for a period of three months. This in turn led to fears that the graduate program would suffer the same fate.

“The J-1 visa for foreign youth will be terminated,” he said.

This pledge has recently been removed from the Republican’s campaign website.

The president elect had also announced in his campaign that he wanted to deport every immigrant living in the US without permission. This would affect thousands of Irish citizens, particularly in areas such as New York, Boston and Chicago.

According to National Public Radio (NPR), there are an estimated fifty thousand unauthorised Irish citizens living in the USA.

In the past Trump has also spoken on the topic of people born inside the USA to immigrant parents. He was of the opinion that they are not American citizens if they were born to illegal immigrants.

“I don’t think they have American citizenship, and if you speak to some very very good lawyers, and I know some would disagree but many of them agree with me, you’re going to find they do not have American citizenship.”