Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Luas's big day

Today is Luas's first day in operation. If the DART is anything to go by, I can't imagine it'll be great for long.

I don't know if privatizing the trains and buses would give us a better system. I'm not a private enterprise ideologue. Monopolies are more of a problem than whoever the owner is. But, some of the things I observed on the DART today had me wondering if privatization wouldn't make for some improvement.

Maintenance work
All the southside DART platforms are being lengthened so that the DART trains can be extended to 8 cars. I can't remember when this project started, but it seems a long, long time ago. And, no wonder. This afternoon I was standing on the platform waiting for the train (a mere 13 minute wait) watching the guys who were working on the platform extension. A couple of them were sitting on the wall and the others seemed to be working at a nice, leisurely pace. Compare the urgency of their work with any work crew on a new apartment building or a housing estate and you'll see a huge difference.

Why are the platforms so dirty? I was on the Connolly Station platform waiting (only 11 minutes) for my return train. There were a couple of fellows charged with emptying the garbage cans, but nobody seemed particularly concerned by the huge pile of vomit sitting near one of the benches. Vomit is not an uncommon sight on the DART platforms. I don't know who's to blame for this phenomenon, but it doesn't encourage me to think, "Hey, I'll leave the car and get the train".

I don't expect a luxury liner type experience when I board a commuter train, but I cannot stand how there is ZERO leg room on the DART trains. I'm not a big guy (about 5'10"), but my legs don't fit easily in front of me. {I have this problem on Dublin Bus as well. Does CIE only cater to short people?} Two men can't fit across from one another. This problem is especially bad on the newer DART trains that are Japanese built. Not only is there no leg room, but many, many of the seats are broken so that you are generally sliding down towards the floor.

I think I'll stick to driving most of the time. Sure the traffic is diabolical, but all the dirt in the car is my own and it is far more comfortable than the train.