Thursday, May 03, 2007

Proceed with extreme caution

Fianna Failure have launched their election manifesto today, so we thought it might be good to have a look at their 2002 promises, just to see how things have come along.

You can get the 2002 election manifesto here.

We decided to take a look at the section on transport, something we all feel strongly about, what with not wanting to have to hang around in the Olympic Village too much.

In fairness, they have managed a few things - all-island free travel for the twirlies, for example - but the main upshot of looking back is that you should take with a large dose of strong salt whatever shite they come out with in this election.

Here goes:

"Fianna Fáil supports the idea of lower pricing for public transport around the peak travel times. We will examine the possibility of introducing discount for travel within an hour either side of the peak times to help spread the load. This will be further facilitated by integrated ticketing and smart card technologies which will allow a differential pricing system to be introduced."

Supporting ideas and examining possibilities? Could they be a bit more vague, I wonder? I haven't seen differential pricing, and the whole smart card ticketing situation is a joke, or it would be if it were funny. Morton's Coaches have had it since April 2004, but it hasn't shown up on Dublin Bus: maybe the unions said "Boo" to Bertie.

"An independent Railway Safety Authority will be established to regulate safety, to assess safety plans submitted by operators, to investigate accidents, and to set standards."

Could someone send me the address of this "independent Railway Safety Authority", cos I can't find it anywhere.

"consideration will be given in consultation with local interests to the provision of new regional and commuter routes, including a Dublin-Navan new rail-line."

Consideration, consultation, yadda-yadda-yadda: can I get a train from Dublin to Navan? No. But then that whole area west of Blanch (out Clonee way, Dunboyne, Dunshaughlin) is pretty much empty so it's not as if there's people who need transport links or anything.

"Fianna Fáil will ensure the advantages of rail freight will be actively encouraged and marketed."

Which is why Irish Rail announced that it was closing its container rail freight business in July 2005. The Irish Exporters Association, repeating what it had said in a submission to the Department of Finance of November 2004, pointed out that this would add 20,000 fully laden forty-foot truck loads onto Irish roads each year, increase road maintenance costs by €29,000,000 per annum, add to CO2 emissions, and have an adverse impact on exporters in the BMW area. So next time you're stumping up your road tax, or you're stuck in a traffic jam or behind a truck remember this government success.

"Dublin Light Rail will be introduced between Tallaght and Connolly station and between Sandyford and St. Stephen's Green on schedule by October 2003."

Try June 2004 for the Green Line and September 2004 for the Red Line.

"In July 2000, the Government approved the development of a metro system for Dublin. Particular priority will be given to the development of an early link to Dublin Airport."

We're still waiting. Jaysus, imagine how long it would take if they weren't giving particular priority to developing an early link to the Airport. The current plan says the Metro North line might be in operation by 2012.

"Further progress will be made on upgrading the bus fleet."

But they'll have to get Mary Harney out of the way first, and that can take a while.

"Given that one of the most common complaints made about our road system is the lack of proper signage on non-national roads, we will put in place a new 5-year plan to ensure that non-national roads are properly signposted."

With 100kph notices on back roads and large trees planted in front of signs, even on the M50. I'd go and complain but I'd probably get lost on the way there. Anyone remember Dublin City Council's colour-coded directional signage with junction numbers? DCC's Director of Traffic, Owen Keegan, was trying to get people to use the orbital routes. Dublin Bus liked the idea, and expected it to shave 10 minutes off peak-time journeys, and the Lord Mayor supported the Council even when Seamus Brennan and the Department of Transport said the signs were too confusing and didn't match the government's vision of traffic for Dublin. So they all had to come down and be replaced. That wasted time and money - and makes you wonder exactly what sort of vision Brennan had in mind.

"Work on the penalty points system will be completed to ensure its implementation at an early date on an all-island basis."

They even got around to thinking about considering giving the Gardaí a few computers to help with it all. Seen any nordy cars misbehaving recently? I have. Will they get points for it any time soon? No.

"A new 3 year Road Safety strategy will be introduced on the expiry of the present one, building on progress made, and to provide a framework for securing further progress in the years ahead."

As regular visitors to Skangerland will know, this has been working a treat.

"We will continue the process of making taxis wheelchair accessible."

Your seatbelt is beeping, Bertie… I think I was in a wheelchair accessible taxi once. I think it was in 1998. Actually, that might have been in London.

"The agreed Aer Lingus survival plan has the full support of Fianna Fáil in government."

Oh dear, can you actually crack your own ribs laughing…???

"Low cost travel is the fastest growing sector in the aviation industry. Fianna Fáil will ensure that all our State airports will cater for the requirements of this sector."

State airports and state airlines, too.

"Fianna Fáil will on return to government ensure that a low cost facility is built at Pier D in Dublin Airport in time for the 2003 season."

I think I walked past that building site last week, or do they mean the prefabs? Sure, It's only four years overdue, which is about what Irish commuters are used to.

"Fianna Fáil will support the development of new air passenger services and the maintenance of existing services at Cork and Shannon, recognising in particular the vital importance of daily transatlantic flights from Shannon for employment in the entire region."

Open Skies, anyone?