Ger Walsh Column 10/02/17 : the chronicle.ie

Ger Walsh Column 10/02/17

| February 10, 2017

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Private bus operators do a good job

There has been a lot of discussion about the future of Bus Eireann in recent weeks with many people commenting on the disaster it would be for rural Ireland if the company closed its Expressway service.

At the moment the main problem appears to be that this service which links major towns and cities in the country is  operating at a serious loss with restrictive practices, poor management, high wage costs and outdated procedures all contributing to the mess.

There have been suggestions that the issuing of licences to private operators has been a key factor in the deteriorating fortunes of the national service.

All sorts of claims have been made about the private companies, not least that they pay rock bottom wages and cherry pick their routes.

One of the solutions, as put forward by Labour party leader Brendan Howlin, was to put a sectoral wage agreement in place for transport which would have the effect of forcing the private operators to pay increased salaries to their drivers to enable Bus Eireann compete on a level playing pitch.

It would certainly do that, but increasing costs for the private operators is hardly the way to go about solving this problem.

Wexford Bus, for example, provides an excellent service to Dublin City, the airport, Waterford and on many other routes which it also operates. It also provides a very effective service in Wexford town and across rural parts of South Wexford.

The routes which this company operates were all open to Bus Eireann for years but they were unwilling, or unable to provide any meaningful service for people who live in these parts of the county.

Equally the arrival of Wexford Bus on to the e Dublin route has had the effect of dramatically improving the service available to travellers while at the same time leading to a reduction in fares..

Private operators clearly can make a successful business out of routes which Bus Eireann struggled to service in the past and there is no reason to believe they could not successfully provide services on additional routes in the future.

 

Risking their lives on the roads

There has been a worrying increase in the number of road deaths over the past couple of years after a period when the various safety campaigns yielded great success.

The lack of active and visible Garda patrols on the roads has been cited as a factor in the increase in road fatalities and that may well be the case.

It has been noticeable over the past year that a sizeable number of those who lost their lives on our roads were pedestrians.

Last weekend on the Enniscorthy/Wexford road I witnessed two people walking without a single light or reflector at 8pm. I was just commenting on how dangerous it was for them when I came across three cyclists———one adult and two children———–wearing equally dark clothing and without a single rear light.

While people are foolish enough and reckless enough to do things like this it is difficult to see how any increase in Gardaí or anything else can deal with the problem.

 

Now they are queueing outside the GP surgery

The difficulties with delays at the A&E department at Wexford, indeed all hospitals have been well documented. However, I recently witnessed what may well be a sign of things to come.

Outside a GP’s surgery in Wexford town I noticed a mid-morning queue. There could have been a dozen or more people standing in line outside the building waiting to get inside.

On making enquiries I was informed that an ‘open clinic’ was in progress. Apparently it means that if you want to be seen urgently by a doctor this is the time to turn up because all the scheduled appointments have been filled.

You wait and wait and wait and are eventually seen by a GP. I’m not sure what happens if so many people turn up that the doctor simply finds it impossible to make time for everyone.

With an increasing population and ever increasing demands on GP services this may well be the GP service of the future when people  have to wait several days to make a scheduled appointment and endure very long delays if they want attention for an  urgent matter.

 

The mis-leading message of the TV adverts

I am really sick of all those adverts on the television offering TV, broadband, home phone and everything else for just a few euro a month. What they don’t really tell you is that the price quoted is just an introductory offer and the real cost can be up to three times the quoted price or even more once you are locked into a contract.

Well they do tell you, but in very small print on the bottom of the screen and there is not a word about it from the voice-over.

I really think that this type of advertising should be outlawed because it is very misleading and must cause confusion, particularly for the elderly.

Companies should be forced to quote the real cost of their offerings in primary position while promoting their special offer alongside it.

Trump is keeping his promises

Strange isn’t it the level of uproar among Irish politics because Donald Trump is implementing policies in Office which he promised along the campaign trail. I suppose a politician doing what he promised to do is quite a shock for Irish politicians.

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Rural plan can bring some benefits

The government’s latest plan to bring life back in to rural communities mainly involves a cut and paste job from various previous plans topped off with a little extra cash.

While there may not be a lot new in the plan the fact that it brings proposals across various departments together and sets targets which are measurable is at least a good idea because it puts some focus on the problems facing rural towns and villages.

There are various opportunities for local authorities and community groups in the plan and the task now is to ensure that local plans and proposal are brought forward to ensure that every single opportunity is grasped and every possible cent available is grabbed for rural development.

The task is enormous and in reality many rural locations can never be restored to their former glory, regardless of plans, money or anything else.

However, every individual  improvement which can be delivered to rural communities will make a significant positive difference to people who live outside the main urban centres.

 

Rosslare should aim to benefit from Brexit

There still seems to be a lot of confusion about Brexit and the actual impact it will have on this country. The absolute doomsday scenario promised by many is unlikely to arrive but change always brings unforeseen problems and Britain’s departure from the EU will certainly involve a lot of change for many Irish businesses.

However, if there is to be a silver lining for this county it could come in the form of Rosslare. Exporters will want to avoid a UK outside the EU so direct transport to France could be very important in the future.

In that context every effort should be made to ensure that money is found from the Capital Works programme to provide necessary upgrades at the port. The government has stated that it wants to use a sizable portion of the programme to ‘help Brexit proof’ the country and this should help strengthen Rosslare’s case for a big injection of cash.

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