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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A small place in history

A nice airport - loads of space and almost no people!
I think I inadvertently took a small place in a history book yesterday.

I was on the panel at the Local Government Association conference yesterday "The Future for Buses". It was a dangerous place to be. Nearly 100 local government planners, officers and politicians with just me as the operator plus also the Chairman and Operations Director of CPT for support.

A very good debate in which I hope I reiterated that we are all in favour of growing public transport demand, increasing quality and encouraging modal shift and that every minute and pound we spend arguing about it between us is really a tragic waste that could so easily be redirected. Giles Fearnley, for CPT, also put the case forward very powerfully.

Anyhow I left mid-afternoon and headed to Dublin where we had our own Aircoach Board Meeting today and also a meeting with the new National Transport Authority for Ireland.

Now for some time now we have witnessed the construction of Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport. As has been recorded Michael O'Leary at Ryanair has been campaigning for a 'low cost' terminal which he was happy to finance and run.

This new Terminal is far from what he envisaged and is of high quality, with many new facilities and bristling with technology.

I had the opportunity of a look 'behind the scenes' last year and before Christmas Etihad's one flight a day started using the Terminal. Then yesterday, progressively, Aer Lingus started to move their flights from about lunchtime and so my own flight from Heathrow came to the new terminal.

I think (and I don't know for sure) that mine was the first Heathrow flight to dock and having been sat near the front and ready to spring, I was amongst the first off and certainly in the lead by the time I was at immigration.

So maybe, and who knows (or cares!), I was the first Aer Lingus passenger, the first UK passenger, oh maybe the first First employee, to arrive at Dublin T2.

I came back that way today and experienced the surreal and very temporary benefit of being one of a handful of people using an airport terminal designed for thousands. No queues at check-in, security, the shops or even the gate. Oh well, not for long!

You are hearing a glowing report of Dublin T2 and well done Dublin Airport Authority. But just to say that public transport (including taxis) is not quite so well served and the buses and coaches have been relegated to a not-well-signed and cold outdoor location. It does feel as if public transport is a poor relation at this magnificent new facility. Very sad to see airline passengers handled so well until they seek to complete their 'end to end' journey which we know is so important. Moreover it is public transport than brings so many of them in and for whom the provision of roadspace and car parking would be so expensive if it didn't.

I'm hoping for an improvement here as things develop and this important public transport hub makes the transition from road to air more seamless in the process.


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