20 December, 2019

European Parliament update, six months on...

Well, that was quick.

Just over six months into my mandate as a Member of the European Parliament for Dublin, and it has been busy!

I called it the “Climate Change Election” when I launched my campaign last April, and thankfully there’s been some progress on this at the European level.  The headline item has been the announcement of a European Green Deal. First announced by Ursula von der Leyen the new European Commission President early in her mandate, she fleshed this out in more detail in early December, and we’ll see more details emerge by early March, This will fulfil her promise to launch an ambitious programme within one hundred days of taking office. Radical changes are needed in energy, transport, buildings and agriculture to deliver on this. We'll know more in the Spring of 2020 about the level of ambition from the new Commission and Parliament.

For me it has been a steep learning curve. Firstly, the balance of powers between the different European Union institutions have become clearer to me. The European Parliament is an amending legislature. We can’t initiate new laws, but we can modify proposals that come from the European Commission, composed of twenty-seven European Commissioners, including Ireland’s own Phil Hogan who now looks after trade issues, having previously had responsibility for agriculture. Apart from von der Layen it will be interesting to watch two senior Commissioners: Margrethe Vestager from Denmark who leads on digital issues, and Frans Timmermans a former Foreign Affairs Minister of the Netherlands who will look after the implementation of the Green Deal. I sit on the TRAN Committee (short for transport) as well as ITRE (which has responsibility for industry, telecoms, research and energy). I also keep a watching brief on REGI (which deals with urban and regional affairs). All three committees have key roles to play in tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

Remember that the European Union doesn’t and can’t tackle everything: under the principal of ‘subsidiarity’ it can only address issues that the Member States have decided should be dealt with at European level. That means we can’t tackle housing issues, but I can put pressure on the European Investment Bank and other bodies to ramp up their focus on these issues. When it comes to tackling climate change the EU does have an important role: it sets targets and provides support to countries to ensure that they are achieved. For instance the European Performance of Buildings Directive ensures that new buildings have to meet an A energy rating, and there will be more work on this front in the years ahead. I want to try and ensure that local authority homes are retro-fitted with insulation, draught-proofing and new heating systems, to ensure that fuel poverty is tackled, and cold damp homes are a thing of the past.

The Irish Green Party is part of the Greens/European Free Alliance group within the Parliament. We comprise seventy-four members, or almost 10% of the 751 seat Parliament, and we have a pretty good track record in making substantive and considered amendments to proposed laws. Last week I participated in the Transport Committee and we burnt the midnight oil to improve the working conditions and driving times of lorry drivers. A lot of drafting was put into improving road safety and worker’s rights to ensure that drivers get proper breaks and don’t sleep in their cabs for weeks on end. We eventually finished our work at 6:45am. Talk about a baptism of fire! Of course, any changes we make must be signed off by the relevant Transport Ministers from every country in the European Union, and it remains to be seen whether our Minister Shane Ross TD will give these changes the green light.

The European Parliament sits in Brussels in Belgium most weeks, and then in Strasbourg in France one week in four. It is a crazy set-up, involving huge amounts of travel. The French refuse to give up on Strasbourg, so we all hop onto a charter train once a month to head down to Eastern France where the hoteliers rub their hands at the prospect of hundreds of MEPs and their staff arriving for four days. Back in Brussels, I’ve rented an apartment about fifteen minutes by bike away from the Parliament in an area called St.Gilles: it is the Brussels equivalent of Stoneybatter. Rents are cheaper than Dublin, and there’s much more protection for tenants enshrined in law.

I’m trying not to fly over and back every week, and around one trip in four I take the ferry to Holyhead from Dublin Port. From there I take a four-hour long train-ride to London Euston. Then I walk ten minutes down the Euston Road to St. Pancras, and hop on a Eurostar for a two-hour ride to Brussels Midi. This takes about twelve hours from door-to-door. One issue I’m working on in Brussels is to try and ensure rail times are better scheduled and speeds improved. In addition, we need to ensure that air travel pays its fair share of taxes, compared to rail journeys.

Over the last six months we’ve seen the UK head closer to Brexit, now inevitable with the Conservatives winning last week’s election. We’ll lose our UK colleagues, but I suspect there will be renewed efforts by Scottish nationalists to secede from the UK and rejoin the EU. Brexit brings a united Ireland closer. A useful exercise would be to examine how policies in health, education and policing could be coordinated north and south of the border, and how best to address the very real concerns from northern Unionists about being isolated. Hopefully, the Northern Ireland Assembly will reconvene early in the new year.

It has been a roller-coaster of a year. It has been amazing to see so many greens elected around Ireland and Europe, and brilliant to see Joe O’Brien elected as a TD in Dublin Fingal in the recent by-elections. It is great to have my colleague Grace O’Sullivan MEP for Ireland South as a sounding board for ideas and plans. A real personal success for me was to give my first speech as Gaeilge in the Parliament. I couldn’t have done it with fantastic support from my team in Brussels and Dublin. As we head towards 2020 which will bring a General Election in Ireland, I’ll be working on progressing laws to make the Green Deal a reality in Europe; to tackle climate change and bring about a just transition at home, and in Europe. We'll be working closely with our Green councillors hard at work in Councils all over Ireland, and with our TDs Eamon Ryan, Catherine Martin and Joe O'Brien in the Dáil, as well as Pippa Hackett in the Seanad, and Clare Bailey  and Rachel Woods, Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in Northern Ireland. 

Nollaig Shona Daoibh!      

12 August, 2019

Summer downpours and Dublin Bay

It's 8th August 2019, and we've had some heavy downpours in the last few days. Dublin City Council has spoken with HSE and EPA and is saying don't swim in Dublin Bay. That's good advice. For the moment don't swim. 
The Bay flushes out fairly quickly, so the next couple of days should see cleaner water, but there may be more downpours on 9th August 2019, so don't put on your togs just yet. 

The current Ringsend Treatment Plant was commissioned in 2003 to serve a population of 1.65 million. It currently treats wastewater for the equivalent of 1.9 million people, that's 15% over-capacity. Just twenty years ago since the infamous ‘ship of shame’ MV Sir Joseph Bazalgette was taken out of service. It shipped our, eh shit to Howth.  Here’s an article by journalist Frank McDonald from 1999. Why Sir Joseph Bazalgette? One of my Victorian heroes, here, take a read…  

It's worth noting that the European Commission has taken an infringement case against Ireland in relation to the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive  Looking ahead, a big upgrade €400 million upgrade is on the way for the Ringsend Sewage Treatment Plant. The plans got the green light from Bord Pleanála back in April of this year. This means less no swim notices in the future and the works should be completed by end of 2021. A previous proposal would have involved a 9km pipeline out into Dublin bay. That’s where I got the notion of building a new island with the spoil, but I digress.

The current proposed upgrade will use a technology called Aerobic Granular Sludge. This is a new process (invented around 2005) that gobbles up the pollutants more quickly than the old plant. It means faster and less costly sewage treatment. Aerobic granules are a type of sludge that can self-immobilize flocs and microorganisms into spherical and strong compact structures. Sorry you asked? But these type of summer downpours represent a real challenge and can overwhelm any Sewage Plant. Will they be more likely with climate change? I suspect so. 

We also need to separate out the storm sewers (rain water) from the ordinary sewers (poo) as currently in the inner city they both go into the same pipe, and that’s another challenge for @irishwater. As you can see this stuff interests me, I used to lecture in it at @WeAreTUDublin. Want to find out more? Check out two fascinating books by former Dublin City Council engineers Michael Corcoran and Clair Sweeney: 'Our Good Health' and 'The Rivers of Dublin'.

15 April, 2019

This is the Climate Change Election

Cuffe for Dublin European Election Campaign Launch, Dublin Woollen Mills, 15th April 2019

Friends, colleagues, welcome to the Dublin Woollen Mills. Welcome to the North Inner City, the electoral ward that is home to three European Parliament candidates for the Dublin constituency. There’s clearly something in the air! Welcome to Bas Eickhout, my European Green colleague from the Netherlands. It is an honour to have him here as a co-author of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. Bas has represented the European Parliament at UN climate change conferences, and has had the ear of Al Gore. He knows his stuff, thanks Bas.

This is the Climate Change election. We’ve been saying this for a while, but this time it’s getting traction. The language we use has changed. ‘Global warming’ doesn’t capture the nature of the crisis. ‘Climate Change’ suggests that it’s not just about warming. ‘Climate Justice’ reminds us that those who didn’t cause the problem shouldn’t have to pay the price. ‘Climate Breakdown’ suggest that it may be too late, and that we must act immediately.

Last Saturday would have been the eightieth birthday of the late Seamus Heaney. In his poem ‘Höfn’ he described the impact of climate change. “The glaciers have begun to melt. What will we do when the ice makes its move?” That’s a question that must be asked of anyone seeking public office in 2019. What will you do? Will you spend more money on new motorways or will you invest in public transport? Will you invest in low-energy homes and tackle fuel poverty, or will you leave it to the market to provide? Will you take decisive action to tackle rising emissions, or will you propose that we put up more bird-boxes? I’ve served as Minister of State for climate change and I know what needs to be done to tackle these issues.

Acting on climate cannot be done in isolation. It requires joined up thinking at local, and national level, and on the international stage. Here in Dublin as a city councillor I chaired a climate change committee that has produced a Climate Plan for Dublin. That Plan won’t be delivered unless the Government acts. We’ve also learned that the Irish Government won’t act unless it is under pressure from Europe. It has been like that since we joined the European Economic Community back in 1973. The Union is not perfect, but the extraordinary social and environmental progress that we’ve seen over the last 46 years here in Ireland would simply not have happened without our membership. Show me any other part of the world where there’s 28 democracies side-by-side. It is important that we renew the promise of Europe. Today’s big issues don’t recognise national boundaries, and collective action is needed at a regional levl. As we’ve learned from the Brexit debate, we need Europe to protect smaller countries, and resist the rise of far-right nationalism and populism.

This is the Climate Action election. It’s an election where we can look to Europe for solutions from cities that work. As an MEP I’ll act as a bridge to show Dublin what works in other places and what can help us with a just transition here. All over the continent cities are finding solutions to tackle emissions that improve quality of life. I want Dublin to be known for its walkability, bikeability and liveability. Let’s look to Germany for child-friendly cities; let’s look to Austria for quality housing; let’s look to the Netherlands for sustainable transport and travel. All over Europe there are solutions that can work here.

The European Parliament can do more on energy. As Dublin’s MEP I want to legislate for a Just Transition. It’s not going to be easy. In the energy sector we’re going to need a European supergrid to get electricity to where it’s needed. We’re going to need community micro-grids that will allow communities to produce and sell energy at a local level. We’re going to need regulations that reinforces our national energy systems, and allows households to sell their surplus energy into the network. This needs to happen, and with more Green MEPs we can make this a reality.

Don’t kid yourself that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have climate change sorted. They haven’t show the will to do this. A lack of joined-up thinking will cost us dearly unless we act now. You can’t keep building motorways and expect emissions to fall. You can’t price people out of housing in Dublin and leave them with a three-hour daily commute. And don’t kid yourself that electric self-driving cars will set us free. The European Commission, the European Parliament need to know that Trans-European Networks and technologies are not the only answer. We need to invest in walking, cycling and public transport. Sure, we need some big projects, but we need small local changes too. That’s why I proposed that we add one second to pedestrian crossing times in Dublin and I’m glad to say that this is happening. It may not change the world, but it might mean your parents will take a trip to town, knowing that it is a bit easier to get across the road in the time available.

We need new transport infrastructure in Dublin, but we also need the simple stuff. Why is it that we’ve less buses on our streets than we did ten years ago? It’s not good enough to tell people to take the bus or train if they’re going to be squished in like sardines. It’s also not good enough to tell people to take the bus when driving is cheaper and faster. I’m pleased that we offer free travel to those over 65 but let’s start as we intend to finish, let’s make public transport free for children as well as pensioners. Start as you intend to finish. So let’s get the right travel patterns in place at an early age. If other countries in the European Union can’t do this why can’t we? Let’s get Europe to approve a transport package that spends more on active travel than it does on motorways. That means in Dublin taking cars out of Dame Street, Capel Street and George’s Street and creating a living city with cleaner air and more space for people.

This is the Just Transition election, and the European Parliament can do more on housing. Sure, it isn’t currently a European competence, but it should be. Globalisation has priced far too many out of the housing market here in Dublin. There’s too much 1% money sloshing round the globe and disrupting markets wherever it lands. It is clean money, it is dirty money, but it is disrupting and distorting our housing supply. Combined with Fine Gael’s belief that the market will solve this it means that we have 17,000 applicants on our housing waiting list in Dublin City alone, and thousands of families living in hostels, hotels and homeless hubs. We had 1,400 hostel beds ten years ago, we have 1,000 more today, and we still have dozens of homeless people who can’t find a bed. If Eoghan Murphy thinks he’d doing the right thing I’m happy to bring up to the Phoenix Park and show him people living in tents. I’ll bring him to Jervis Street, to the Croppies’ Acre. In my thirty years of living in Dublin’s inner city I have never seen a homelessness crisis of this magnitude.

Europe must help with our Housing Crisis. DG Regio has taken a strong interest in urban and regional affairs in recent years and I’ve carefully watched where this is heading. An EU urban agenda can deliver sustainable cities and a low-carbon trajectory, but to do this we need the numbers in the Parliament to put pressurise on the Commission and Council. We need a Housing package from Europe that will help us build A-rated new homes and retrofit the homes we have to modern standards.

I’m glad that the Irish Government has finally followed the lead of cities in Spain and elsewhere and is drawing down funds from the European Investment Bank for housing, but it’s not happening at the scale required. Let’s look to Vienna where the City of Vienna hosted the “Housing for All” conference last December. Cost-Rental housing is the future, and despite the internal rows in Fine Gael between Senior and Junior Ministers we must make it happen in Dublin.

I’m glad that Dublin City Council has brought the Vienna Model to Dublin, literally in this case with an exhibition that has been to the Docklands and Ballymun and that will be in Richmond Barracks in Inchicore all this week. Quality public housing is needed with people on all incomes living under the same roof. It is time to end the housing policies of exclusion, and look instead to Europe and to Vienna for inspiration from a city that owns 220,000 homes, and where successful housing associations are supported to tackle the crisis. In Berlin the city sold off much of its housing and thousands are now protesting the growing financialisation of the private rental sector.

A Just Transition will provide the funding for Dublin City Council to take the 24,000 homes that we provide, and bring them from a D to an A energy rating so that our tenants aren’t trapped in fuel poverty. A Just Transition would provide quality homes for all, not just for short-stay tourists in AirBnBs and hotels, or the affluent in new student housing. A Just Transition would mandate the Land Development Agency to build on brownfield sites like Broadstone, and provide most of these homes as mixed-income public housing, rather than investment targets for vulture or cuckoo funds. 40% affordable is far too low a bar for these sites.

The Irish Naval Service has carried out extraordinary work in humanitarian rescues in the Mediterranean. But this migration crisis is part of a wider global trend, and we cannot retreat from commitments to the Global South. Irish Aid must continue to align our commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals. We must gender-proof our aid to ensure that women and girls are protected. Let’s look to the pioneering work of Mary Robinson in seeking climate justice for the least-well-off who will suffer most in a world of climate breakdown.

Let’s ensure that those who come to Ireland seeking refugee status aren’t left living in the shameful direct provision system. Cases should not drag on for years and if that means simplifying and strengthening EU or Irish Law then let’s deliver on this. Let’s ensure we accept our fair share of those fleeing persecution, and ensure that integration is at the heart of our policies.

Let’s also ensure that the EU’s foreign policy is geared towards sustainable development, rather than a European Army. Let’s ensure our defence forces have the equipment they need to deliver on humanitarian aid and peacekeeping. Let’s ensure they’re not paid low wages compared to other sectors of the economy. However, let’s not be sucked into defence spending under pressure from other member States that destroys our commitments to Irish Neutrality.

Let’s ensure that our close links to the UK continue regardless of the outcomes on Brexit. Those economic ties and cultural ties are crucial to our future. Now is the time to ensure that student exchanges such as Erasmus are kept in place to provide opportunities to study in the UK and for those across the water to study here. We need these commitments because they are part of the spirit of Europe regardless of the decisions made in Westminster.

Our digital world, just like climate change, does not recognise national borders. As our digital world expands we need to ensure that large companies do not have undue influence, I stand with Senator Elizabeth Warren from the United States when she says that monopolies should be broken up. It is wrong that three companies: Facebook, Amazon and Amazon dominate so much of the digital landscape. They have become virtual monopolies in their sector. We know that WeChat controls communications in China, we cannot let this happen in Europe.

The digital economy had given many benefits, but we need greater transparency on costs and profits, and a more level playing field for the major global companies in today’s global world. The rules of the game must reflect the subsidies and tax breaks given to companies elsewhere in Europe, and Ireland’s position as a peripheral Member State.

I stand with the European Greens when they campaign for Net neutrality, and protect whistle-blowers when they reveal the actions of Government and companies that needs exposure. I stand with Commissioner Margrethe Vestager when she pursues Google/Alphabet and others over the alleged antitrust violations.

Cities can move quickly on climate change. I’ve spent the last eighteen months studying for a Masters in Cities at the London School of Economics, and I know that cities can unlock a low-carbon future. My final project looked at ‘Decarbonising Dublin’ and I’m convinced that the solutions to tackling climate change can be found here. They can be found in policies that promote walking and cycling, from Brussels to the Liffey Quays.  They can be found in District Heating using the heat from the Ringsend Incinerator and electricity generation. They can be found in policies that promote biodiversity, and in green and blue technologies that cope with extreme weather, and provide space for children to play. They can be found in improving air quality through low emission zones and reducing the incidence of asthma.

However, cities must also foster democracy. The gradual stripping away of powers from local government in Ireland leaves us as an outlier compared to other European Countries. We need to give our cities greater control over transport, over waste and over housing. Our lack of powers and the constraints on spending have left us incapable of responding quickly to climate change, the housing crisis, traffic congestion and other key issues. It is time for a directly elected mayor for Dublin with a remit to tackle these challenges and provide the vision for Dublin’s future.

It is wrong that our plans for public housing to require sign-off four times by Eoghan Murphy before we get the green light to build. It is wrong that Minister Shane Ross has dictated that there are less buses on our streets than ten years ago. It is wrong that there are over fifty different agencies with responsibility for transport in Greater Dublin. Dublin needs a directly-elected Mayor.

The extraordinary young leader Greta Thunberg has shown us that speaking truth to power works. She’s speaking to the Environment Committee of the European Parliament tomorrow despite the efforts of the EPP and others to deny her a voice in the main chamber. She inspired the ten thousand school children here in Ireland who gathered outside Dáil Éireann to demand climate justice and a fair transition, and they won’t be going away. In his poem ‘Lies’ the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko wrote: “Lying to the young is wrong...Telling them that God’s in his heaven and all’s well with the world is wrong...Our pupils will not forgive in us what we forgave.”
Greta Thunberg has shown that the young are not complacent. She has shown us that the young can separate truth from spin. She wants us to act, and we must act now.

The Citizens Assembly has told us that it wants us to act. However, it is about more than bird boxes and keep cups. It’s about clean energy, and A-rated homes. It’s about buses, trains and trams that aren’t packed to the gills, but are reliable, comfortable and affordable ways to get around. It’s about a child-friendly city with clean air to breathe and clear waters in Dublin Bay.Let’s ramp up action under the Water Directive so that the Liffey, the Dodder and the Tolka and our canals, even in the Docklands are clean enough to swim in.  It’s about a green city with trees for kids to climb, and parks a short walk from your door.

I’ve campaigned to make Dublin a better place for some time, I’m proud of my city and the changes that we’ve achieved, I want to work with our neighbours in Europe to deliver the climate action, the housing, the mobility improvements that will deliver a Living City for all.

I’m asking you to Vote Dublin, Vote Climate, Vote Green, Vote Cuffe on the 24th May.

03 March, 2019

That meeting with Dublin Bus

So, when I tweeted “Any questions you'd like me to ask?”, I wasn’t quite prepared for the deluge that filled my Twitter feed! I put a few of your questions to Ciarán Rogan the Head of Commercial and Business Development in Dublin Bus on Friday morning, and at the end of this post I’ve tried to summarise the issues you put to me under various headings. Before I do that, let me give you a quick ‘Dublin Transport 101’ paragraph.

Dublin Bus is a semi-state organisation. This means that it operates a bit like a private company, and in some respects, operates at arm’s length from Government. This means that when things go wrong Minister Ross can say “nothing to do with me”, but when they go right he can claim the credit. A huge amount of what Dublin Bus does is controlled by the National Transport Authority (NTA), which is in turn controlled by Minister Ross. New buses? Ask the NTA for the money. New routes? That’s a matter for the NTA. BusConnects? NTA. You get the picture. So, with that out of the way I'll  address a few of the specifics that you raised.

Bus fleet
Why no electric buses, or even hybrids? Good question, especially since hybrids were piloted, oh, ten years ago. Your tweets mentioned LA, Madrid, and of course transport nerds like myself talk a lot about Shenzhen in China which has a fleet of 16,000 e-buses. Mr. Rogan told me that nine hybrid buses are on order, and three will be in service by the end of the month. That’s no great shakes compared to London, which has 3,240 hybrid buses in service, but I guess neither the Government nor Shane Ross have been losing sleep over this. This means that diesel is here to stay sadly, for at least the next decade, though at least the Euro 6 (emission rating) buses are much cleaner than their predecessors. Around half the fleet is Euro 6 at this stage.  I felt it was bad form though for the NTA/Dublin Bus order a load of them though, just before the diesel ban kicked in from Government. Bus Connects talks about this here 

Roads tend to get the lion’s share of transport funding in Ireland, and even though buses bring in 40% of the shoppers to Dublin’s city centre, public transport (and walking and cycling) have always been the poor relation in transport funding.  In your replies to me you said you want to see more buses (the fleet is no bigger than twenty years ago), better heating, and more space for wheelchairs. No harm to email Shane Ross (shane.ross@oireachtas.ie) and ask him for these. I agree, and would love to see it happen. Shaun (@Retzback_Shaun) said bring back the green buses. I agree! Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be on the cards.

Leap cards and ticketing
Lots of issues were raised around issues with Leap cards. Some of you want the central doors as exit only, others want a card reader at the centre doors. Sylvia Bowe (@sylviabowe) wants a “swipe on, swipe off” system. A pet hate was the card reader on the right-hand side as you enter, which is intended for annual or monthly tickets etc, but which happily takes the maximum fare off your Leap card if you make the mistake of swiping at it. A sensible suggestion from Andrew  McCarthy (@A_Mc_Carthy) was that it should only extract the maximum fare to the terminus. There’s lots of technical issues here which I’ll ask Mr. Rogan to respond to in detail. Looking ahead we’ll probably move to the London system which can swipe your bank card, so you don’t even need an Oyster card (the equivalent of a Leap card) there. I know the NTA are also moving towards a 90 minute far that allows you to transfer for around €2.30. It is still damn expensive, and in the Green Party we are saying that we should move towards free student travel, or even free child travel. I got my Dáil colleague Catherine Martin TD to ask how much this would cost, and she was told it would cost €35m per year for free child travel nationwide (though this doesn’t account for any increased usage). A reasonable step to take would be make public transport free for accompanied under 12s on Dublin Bus services on Saturdays for a trial period and see how it works out. Certainly, for young families the return bus fare for two adults and a few children going in and out of town costs a lot more than city centre car parking, so it is worth considering for lots of reasons.

Bus Lane enforcement
This came up in so many of your tweets. People want to see bus lane enforcement cameras mounted on the Dublin Bus fleet, and they do too. Trouble is the legislation doesn’t exist to do this apparently. Again, this is a matter for Shane Ross, so do drop him a note people. The city Council and the Gardaí should be stepping up enforcement, and I’ve been calling for this. The Council is in the middle of a complicated tendering process for parking enforcement that’s almost completed and I’ve asked for illegal parking on footpaths, bike lanes and bus lanes to be prioritised. Mind you, there’s nothing to stop the Guards doing more of this now ‘cough’ (@GardaTraffic)

The App
We had a good chat about the Dublin Bus App. Apparently there is a rebuild of this underway and it should be back on Android by the end of March, (perhaps on the Apple Store already?) The problem has been GDPR, though it does seem like GDPR is the new Health and Safety. There was a nice suggestion from @oceanclub  that the App show buses in real time on a map. Now that would be an elegant upgrade, but it doesn’t seem to be on the cards. Stephen Murphy (@stejmurphy) felt the real time data at bus stops and the data in @TFIupdates and @dublinbusnews app are pooling from different sources. Ciaran Rogan didn’t feel this was the case, but if you’ve evidence of this maybe you’d send it on to me.  Diarmuid Nanney (@HanneyDP ) asked that the Dublin Bus data files be uploaded as open source files. I assume that they are done like that and accessible on the NTA data store, but perhaps the techies out there can tell me more. Certainly, there’s room for snazzier third-party Apps. CityMapper, come to Dublin, please!

Driver issues
I feel bus drivers have become more respectful of cyclists, but of course there are loads of incidents that you know of where this is not the case. If you haven’t seen the Dublin Bus driver training video from a year or two back, have a look at it here. Lots of you want to get bus drivers out on bikes as part of their training. I think that’s a great idea, and is used in other cities, and maybe should be integrated in to driver training here.  Of course, a lot of drivers are cyclists, and do have experience of the view over the handlebars. The issue of drivers leaving the engine running came up from Melissa O’Callaghan (@melissaocallag1). If this an issue they can put signs at the bus stop advising drivers to switch off. We have them on Infirmary Road at the 46A terminus, so I’m sure it can be arranged for other places. Some of you were concerned at drivers being aggressive or using their horn inappropriately.

Smaller Route changes
Lots of local issues came up here. The new #155 will serve Ballymun, but brings yet another bus service through O’Connell Street rather than the Quays. It strikes me that there’s a ‘homing instinct’ at play here. Aoife McEoin (@AoifeMacE) wants the #7 and #7A to serve Mountjoy Square in the evenings; Graham Finlay (@graham_finlay) wants a better UCD service in the evening; Paula Nolan (@IrishPTnolan) want some buses (from Fairview I assume,) to go straight to the Docklands / Merrion Square rather than go through town.  @Leo31084416 wondered whether we could make tweaks to routes in advance of Bus Connects. Yep, this is happening. John Cuffe (@cuffejohn)no relation I think, says the #270 from Blanchardstown to Dunboyne is a rather, eh, poor service. Robbie Moran (@robbimoran) wants better express services from beyond the M50 and I strongly agree. Interestingly I asked about the overlap of Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann services. Dublin Bus is mandated to serve the “County of Dublin and contiguous areas.” I suspect that more could be done to serve those communities that lie in the no-man’s land beyond the four Dublin counties that isn’t adequately served privately or by Bus Éireann.

Bus Connects
The big route changes will come out of the BusConnects project which is being managed by the
NTA, with help from the US based consultant Jarett Walker. Liz Kerrins (@LKerrins) wanted the proposals to be more legible as does @Geschenk_Korb. I couldn’t agree more. @Sinabhfuil is concerned about the diversion of cars on to Clareville Road in Kimmage, and wants to see Park and Ride now. Grainne Hassett (@GrainneHassett) is worried about the destruction of Grattan Crescent in Inchicore. An interesting suggestion was made by @transportdublin that Dublin Bus should ask passengers to contact local representatives to support the infrastructure part of @BusConnects. That isn’t a bad idea. Certainly, Dublin Bus spend a lot of time talking to elected representatives, particularly at national level, but it might be no harm if they urged their passengers to make their views known on the project.  Keith Guinan (@keithguinan) doesn’t wish to change at Swords on way into town from Skerries. Hopefully that can be tweaked. Again, the NTA is managing Bus Connects, so Dublin Bus doesn’t call the shots on this one. Consultation is open till the end of March on some routes, and longer on others. Do make a submission via www.BusConnects.ie

General Issues
Roger Hobkinson (@RoghobC) said “Sell of their high value bus garages for residential and relocate to fewer large bus stations in a ring around M50 and one city garage in glass bottle area. Invest proceeds in better international standard services.” Well I couldn’t agree more, and have been banging this drum for years, but that requires action from Minister Shane Ross and his Fine Gael colleagues. Another issue @DublinCommuters @AGingerxyz) was drivers asking people with disabilities to state their disability. That is all wrong, and I’ll take that issue up with the company in writing. Lots of people hate the webform, and want a more specific reply to their query or complaints, over to you @DublinBusNews on that one. @OhDunnoWho wanted to see the use of Irish dropped from announcements. Can’t agree with you on this! Better maps were sought by several people. I agree. TfL in London do an amazing job with clear maps at bus stops, and we should follow their lead. 24 hour services? Funnily enough, the NTA announced this last year but it never happened. Ciaran said it will happen, and perhaps this year. Nightlink is great, but that's only a Friday/Saturday service, We badly need hourly services through the night on key routes. Hopefully this will happen with the 747 from Heuston to Dublin Airport this year, and on a few other key routes to the south and west.

We only had 45 minutes to chat, but I got the feeling that Ciaran Rogan wants to do more, but is constrained by finance and the day-to-day demands of his job in going further. There’s so many issues to address. He rides a bike to work several days a week, as do many of his colleagues. I think Dublin Bus are improving, but with a bit more support from government, and Minister Ross they could do so much more. I’ll update this post if I get more information from Dublin Bus, and I’ve summarised most of the issues that you mentioned to me below. Thanks again for all your replies.

Here's a summary of the queries received from Twitter

-where’s the accountability @sorleymccaughey
-too many empty buses parked in town @dubshn1028
-disaster at Hawkins st and Pearse Street @dubshn1028
-is there an alternative to Webform if blocked @garretbaldwin
-stop asking people with disabilities to state disability @DublinCommuters @AGingerxyz
-sell bus garages for residential relocate to M50 Invest proceeds in services @RoghobC
-better maps at bus stops ect. @chewborg
-turn down volume of 'next stop' announcements and drop Irish @OhDunnoWho
-respond to questions/complaints about customer service ever @graham_finlay

-#DB7 #DB7A to serve Mountjoy Square after 6pm @AoifeMacE
-can some routes avoid city centre to serve Merrion Square /Leeson Street @IrishPTnolan
-new #DB155 from Ballymun. Via Quays, or O’Connell Street @highnellybike
-any chance of a 24h service to airport, maybe #DB747 from Heuston @An_Puifin
-Why on the #DB46a route at 745am there’s a dearth of buses city bound @Ellebelles1
-any plans for demand responsive bus service trials https://t.co/wL5YetchXI @HanneyDP
-Constant “Operational Issues” (bus doesn’t show up) with #DB120 @rathborneD15
-Could Dublin Bus start tweaking routes now in advance of bus connects  @Leo31084416
-24h routes @ROnanJDonnelly
-please serve UCD in the evenings @graham_finlay
-how come #DB270 Dunboyne to Blanch bus is such a *** service? @cuffejohn
-non stop services for people outside M50 @robbimoran

-some buses date from 2006, replace them 2006 Lorraine_F_22
-electrify the fleet @BrianLeddin
-overcrowding, any plans to expand fleet @OdranReid
-fleet same size as 1998, can it be expanded @garrettmullan
-who so slow to electrify fleet @ruairimckiernan
-when will you move away from fosil fuels, wy is electric non-viable @lordgoat
-Madrid has electric buses @niscratz
-progress to zero carbon and Electric/non-fossil-fueled vehicles @AJffGemini13
-do something about buggy-pushers who refuse to vacate wheelchair space @Amran_Alix
-bring back green buses @Retzback_Shaun
-poor/non-existant heating on buses @Gion_Gion
-go electric, look at LA @johncoleman1979
-bigger buses please @MulfreeS
-go carbon neutral @connollc

Leapcards / ticketing
-tag on at central doors @MarcKC_Green
-how much extra money taken by tagging on RHS reader for full fare @johnlync
-can RHS reader only charge to reminus, not maximum fare @A_Mc_Carthy
-why is Leap card reader sloped, card slides off @IrishPTNolan
-can ticketing be integrated with Luas @eoinyk
-why not “swipe on, swipe off” @sylviabowe
-commuters getting #DB145 to Heuston with annual ticket can't jump on any bus down quays @noelbodie
-multi door entry with tap on/off leap card points  @ROnanJDonnelly

Bus Lane enforcement
-can they get Gardaí to keep cars out of bus lanes @tomasbradley
-can bus lane hours be increased  @snerad
-can they calculate delays caused by illegal parking  in bus lanes @ShaneHoganD16
-bus lane enforcement cameras, yellow box cameras etc ASAP @transportdublin
-onboard cameras as a means to record and fine illegal parkers?  @dnoting
-on-board #CCTV to help enforce against illegal vehicle-use @ChrisMurphy201

-Can App show buses in real time on map @oceanclub
-no support for App @InkingCap
-what happened App @oceanclub
-is App now on Transport for Ireland Real Time app @LoKapila
-can Dublin Bus data files be uploaded as open source files @HanneyDP
-why is the real time data at  bus stops data in @TFIupdates and @dublinbusnews app pooling from different sources   @stejmurphy

Driver issues
-get drivers on to bikes @DublinVelo2019 @davidhealyv
-can insights from bus drivers who cycle be used to improve driver behaviour @rothairisbeoir
-can bus drivers keep to speed limits, esp. 30 km/h  @thebaz_dublin @ccferrie @conorkearney
-running amber and red lights; exceeding the speed limit; carrying out dangerous manouevres; aggressive driving behaviour towards vulnerable road users @clicky_here
-monitor/audit  on board cameras to detect (bus driver) red light running @ConwayDavid
-drivers using horns at cyclists @IsMiseNessy
-keep buses out of narrow stretch of North Brunsick Street at Walsh’s pub @jnrbaker
-can front doors be entrance only, centre doors for exit @edbrophy @Sam_Fitzgerald7
-not always possible at bus stops blocked by illegally parked vehicles  @myDublinbus Mar 1
-respect bikes @jtwoods_bikes
-driver agression @IpaziaCheyenne
-ensure drivers are more accountable and protect cyclists @stevedocherty
-Why are buses parked up (thinking near clontarf Castle) with their engines idling? @melissaocallag1

Bus Connects
-make the proposals more legible @LKerrins
-wrong way round, should be macro to micro @SNicoullaud
-diversion of cars  on to Clareville Road in Kimmage  @Sinabhfuil
-destructiojn of Grattan Crescent, Inchicore @GrainneHassett
-why not Park and Ride now, rather than after key corridors are in operation @Sinabhfuil
-Can Dublin Bus ask passengers to contact local representatives to support the infrastructure part of @BusConnects.@transportdublin
-don’t wish to change at Swords on way into town from Skerries @keithguinan
-Make the bus plans easier to understand @Geschenk_Korb