Dublin has one of the worst ‘after hours’ public transport services in Western Europe. On the weekend, public transport does not operate any later than 12:30am and any earlier than 6:30am. Jay Carax looks at the consequences.
Those who do not enjoy the comfort of living within walking distance of the city centre, or can afford a taxi, have to rely on the (recently cut back) Nitelink. This service only runs two nights a week, Friday and Saturday.
The Thursday and Sunday Nitelinks were cut over two years ago. More recently in March of this year, seven whole routes were slashed and six remaining services were ‘revised’ (i.e. routes changed dramatically).
Using the Nitelink can be a traumatic experience for both passenger and driver. Our archaic licensing laws that force nightclub last orders to be at 2:30am and closing time at 3:00am, giving revelers little time to catch the last nightlink which leaves at 3:30am and 4:00am depending on the route.
This interval around the areas of Westmoreland St. and D’Olier St are, as such, hellish. Trashed clubbers, who are essentially forced to intensify their drinking in the last hour of the night, battle their way to get Nitelink tickets in newsagents and then rush, risking life and limb, to make sure they don’t miss the bus.
Drivers, understandably not in the mood to wait around, often leave on the dot, or before, leaving people frequently on the street banging on the doors or chasing the bus into oncoming traffic. Your five-euro ticket (exact change only, no notes of course) will then take you to in the direction of your home.
My Nitelink used to leave him right by the door; the route was completely cut, so now I have to get a different bus that leaves me nearly 20 minutes walk from my house.
While most passengers opt to sit down stairs, everyone knows that the real show is upstairs. Here, couples embrace, strangers chat up strangers, people open the window and try to smoke, while the more inebriated, slump into a deep sleep (destined to wake up long after their stop. The ravenous snack on the greasiest food that was available to them, in the short time period, between leaving the nightclub and getting the Nitelink.
At some stage in your lifetime of getting the Nitelink you’ll probably see someone throwing up, his/her best friend holding their hair and telling them to ‘get it all out’; a buzzed up bloke going through his phone book loudly ringing people looking for a house party; someone waking up, confused and realising they should have gotten off the bus fifteen minutes ago; a bloke trying to entice a member of the opposite sex with the offer of Supermacs chips and if your really unlucky, a slagging match that develops into a digging match between two groups of equally loud, obnoxious, lads who all wish they weren’t going home alone. So what’s the solution? No more cut backs for a start and, more importantly, introducing a system of sequential closing times for nightclubs allowing some to serve alcohol to 3am and others to 4:30am.
Until then remember to always have your nitelink change ready, be polite to the driver and, if at all possible, don’t throw up anywhere near me.