The thought crossed my mind this week that John Delaney might have taken up the CEO spot with Bus Eireann. The logic was compelling: if you are going to fleece people get a fleecer to do it. And they don't come handier at fleecing people than Big Bad John.
Bus Eireann, or Bus Useless, doesn't have much of a reputation with its users, well experienced in its shambolic inefficiencies. The small mercy being that it is only buses it is responsible for and not planes. Passengers use it because they feel they have to.
A quip that I picked up on earlier this month is a tip for avoiding fancy dress parties over the festive season if the schedule is already tightly packed. Just tell people you are going as Bus Eireann. Then nobody will expect you to turn up, and for those disappointed by your no-show you have a ready made cover story. Since then, in my line of work if somebody doesn't show up they are said to have done a Bus Eireann.
The company has now taking to robbing its customers in the mouth of Christmas. Normally with a Leap Card the fare from Custom House Quays in Dublin to Drogheda using the 100X is €6.55. Since the 12th of December it is €9.50, either way. For the daily working commuter that is an increase of almost 30 yoyos a week.
The measure was introduced by stealth. Nobody was told by the driver in advance and offered the choice. Unless the passenger was particularly focussed rather than routinely pressing the Leap card down on the reader while the driver punches in the code they wouldn't have noticed, it being so routine. Then comes the day when they are told by the driver that they haven't enough money on their card to cover the fare, even though they had budgeted for the week.
The only value in having a Leap Card is the discount in fares it allows. Otherwise passengers are merely depositing their money interest free so that Bus Eireann can indulge itself in over charging while under delivering.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had lavished praise on people who get up early in the morning to start their working day. He should - but he won't - do something to make it less early than it currently is or is about to become. The purpose of Bus Eireann's price hike seems to be the avoidance of laying on extra direct route buses to accommodate the overspill which regularly sees passengers prevented from getting on their vehicle due to the bus being full. Its way around providing the extra bus is to price the fare out of reach of a sufficient number of passengers so that the overcrowded bus problem is solved by forcing people to take the much slower service buses, which frequently takes closer to two hours to get into Dublin from Drogheda.
Commuters are well advised to familiarise themselves with what is happening to their account before they find themselves left stranded because Bus Eireann had already screwed them without telling them. There is an alternative for the traveller to paying the €95 a week to Bus Eireann. Catch the Matthews. It is as efficient if not more so than the 100X which never arrives on time anyway. Buy a ten journey ticket for 60 yoyos. Better the €30 stays in your pocket than being handed over to some Delaney type character in Bus Rip Off.