The NTA (finally!) answer my questions on the regional bike share scheme.


In January 2021 I asked Limerick Council to urgently request a meeting with the National Transport Authority (NTA) on the Limerick public bike scheme. This meeting request was due to years of poor service, unrideable bikes and general unreliability. I have previously written about why I believed the scheme to be failing.  To clarify, Limerick Council does not operate this scheme. The public bike scheme in Limerick, Cork and Galway are all managed by the NTA and they contract the running of the scheme to a company called Telfourth, trading name An Rother Nua.

TFI public bike scheme


After requesting a meeting with the NTA on the scheme every month last year, Limerick Council finally secured a meeting, 11 months after I placed my original request. I will start off by saying I believe this wait was on purpose as it was clear the NTA had no desire to meet with Councillors to be asked questions on this scheme. The public bike scheme costs Limerick tax payers €1.1 million /year. That Limerick Councillors had to wait almost a year for a meeting on this is incredulous. It highlights just how poor the oversight is for this scheme.

I would also like to highlight that I don’t believe this meeting would have happened if I did not doggedly persist for it through Limerick Council. I would like to thank Limerick Council staff for their persistence on this in my behalf also. I would like to also thank Cllr Sharon Benson, Sinn Fein, for all her support in helping me in my pursuit for answers regarding this public scheme.


Below are the questions I asked the NTA on the public bike scheme and the responses I received. I am posting these without comment, along with slides from the presentation we received. I would welcome any comments or questions from users of the scheme and/or elected representatives in Limerick, Cork and Galway on NTA responses.

Q.The NTA and Telfourth have cited vandalism as a cause for bikes being unavailable in Limerick. When I have asked before in relation to poor service and bike unavailability I have been told this is based anecdotal comments of a mechanic, what evidence do you possess to support your view that Limerick is more prone to vandalism?

Answer: The issue of vandalism was addressed in the presentation (see attached slides). In one case, the NTA said that all of the saddles of bikes at one station were stolen. They have had discussions with Gardaí and the Council in relation to this.

Slide 1 on vandalism
Slide 2 on vandalism

Q. After 5 years Coca Cola stopped its sponsorship, how much do the NTA pay  to annually subsidize the Bikeshare scheme now? 

Answer : the cost of the sponsorship was €500,000 annually. The contract came to an end and the NTA could not re advertise due to the ongoing court case. They are now looking at options regarding better advertising boards at stations and they also noted that local authorities do not contribute to the cost of the scheme. 

Q. Are you aware that the Bikeshare website bike numbers and locations do not reflect the actual numbers on the ground? It seems you rely on Telfourth Ltd numbers and pay accordingly, is this true?

Answer: Again NTA raised issues with the original software operator and lack of technical support for this. Will be looking at this issue. In relation to numbers they mentioned that the website only gives the original number of bikes that were delivered to Limerick. There are now 263 bikes. Some were deployed to Galway at one stage when they got new stations. 

Slide 3 on issues with software

Q. Are you aware that many in Limerick have stopped using the scheme, myself included, due to poor communication on app of closed stations, untrustworthy bikes and general unreliability and poor quality service? 

Answer: They said that spare parts again were an issue but that they have altered parts of the bike (back mudguard) that they feel will better protect the bikes from general operating difficulties and from vandalism. These new and improved bikes will be rolled out going forward. They agreed that service user numbers were not great and would hope that this will improve in line with a better service being provided going forward. 

Slide 4 on improved design of bikes

Q. The QSA (Quality Service Agreement) allows for payment deductions to be made for breaches in service. Have you ever made such deductions?

Answer: This question was not answered.

Q. Does the NTA believe a good quality service is being delivered in the regional cities and what do they base their service quality off? 

Answer: No was the short answer they gave to this. They don’t believe a good quality of service has been delivered. They hope that the service will elevate over the next year. 

Slide 5-Limerick expansion

Q. New stations such as LIT and bringing King John Station back online were promised to be delivered by 2018. What is the delay in over 3 years of delivering these schemes?

Answer: There were many stations on the Northside of the city that were identified for stations that were not delivered. They kind of danced around this question regarding the delay but mentioned funding and lack of uptake and expressed that the LIT station was the obviously the most viable. In relation to King John’s castle they said it was ultimately the sourcing of parts that caused the delay and also they were also in discussion with the Council regarding the suitability of the original location. The new location is more suitable. 

Q. Are you aware that a diesel van collects and transports the bikes from Mungret throughout the City? Were electric vans not part of the contract to ensure climate benefits of a public bike scheme?

Answer: The original contract from 2013 did not have a requirement for an electric vehicle. That contract is due to end soon and an electric vehicle will be a requirement under the new contract. 

Why the Limerick/Cork/Galway bike scheme is failing

 

The usage levels of the Limerick public bike scheme showed a large decrease in the last year falling by 20%. The National transport Authority (NTA), whom run the scheme, cited improved bus services in Cork and Galway as a reason for a decrease in those two cities. They cited no reason for the decrease in the scheme in Limerick. The regular users of the scheme in Limerick already know the reasons for its failures. The bikes and stations are poorly maintained and unreliable; pedals fall off bikes during usage; gears don’t work; stations remain closed and have never reopened; Stations in Colbert station or LIT have taken, or are taking, years to materialise. To understand why the National transport Authority have facilitated and enabled this to happen we have to go back to the start of the scheme.

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SwimableLimerick @Samhain Halloween Festival

For one night only SwimableLimerick brings back public baths to the city. As evening falls we will open our own bathing area on the shores of The Shannon. Plunge into the cool waters of our city’s river and experience a Samhain swim. Afterwards, SwimableLimerick’s legendary post swim feast awaits. Hot drinks and treats from The Urban Food Co-op will be served by the hearth of the Curraghgour Boat Club. The bathing area opens at 5.15pm with registration at 5pm on Friday 25th October at The Curraghgour Boat Club.

The Swim

The swim will be confined to a 50 metre area close to the slipway of The Curraghour Boat Club. Swimmers will not be allowed outside this area.

This is not a race but a social bathing experience to enjoy aevening dip in the River Shannon

The water is expected to be no more than 10C. This water temperature is very cold for swimming. We would recommend wearing a wetsuit if you are not used to swimming in cold conditions. If you are wearing togs and are not an experienced open water swimmer than we recommend you only stay in the water for a very short time as it will be very cold!

The swim finishes on the same slipway you entered on. You will be required to give your name to sign out of the bathing area

 

For any queries please contact Elisa on 087-9120231 or email us at limerickunderground@gmail.com

SwimableLimerick @Riverfest 2019- Sold Out

Update 25th April 2019: We have had an overwhelming response to this event and unfortunately are unable to take any more bookings at this time. 

As part of Limerick’s Riverfest Festival Weekend, SwimableLimerick is bringing back public baths to the city for one night only.

As evening falls we will open our own bathing area on the shores of The Shannon. Plunge into the cool waters of our city’s river and experience our unique swim. Our swims take place from the historic Curraghour Boat Club and we provide a fun, relaxed environment for anyone to enjoy the freedom of swimming in the open water. You will be swimming in the heart of medieval Limerick and will experience some stunning vistas of the city from the River Shannon. Hot drinks and treats from The Urban Co-op will be served by the hearth of the Curraghgour Boat Club afterwards

The bathing area opens at 6.30pm on Friday 3rd May at The Curraghgour Boat Club. All swimmers must be at the boat club by 5.45pm with registration at 6pm. If you would like to book a space please email limerickunderground@gmail.com with you name, age and any open water swimming experience that you may have (It’s okay if you don’t have any!)

Our swims are all about having fun and enjoying the open water, not about fast times or swimming long distances so feel free to just have a bit of a splash or wade your feet into the water.  We will have a small swimming area open to the public which will be roughly the size of a 15 metre pool. All swimmers will receive a custom made Riverfest Swimming Cap that they must wear in the water. 

This event is opened only to those aged 18 or over but children and supporters are more than welcome to watch from the shore and  join us for a cuppa or juice in the boat club following the swim. 

 

For any further information please contact Elisa O’Donovan on 087-9120231 or contact us at limerickunderground@gmail.com

 

We would like to thank Limerick Council for their support with this event.

 

Limerick City Baths return for one night only as part of Samhain festival

For one night only SwimableLimerick brings back public baths to the city. As night falls we will open our own bathing area on the shores of The Shannon. Plunge into the cool waters of our city’s river and experience a moonlit swim. The bathing area will be illuminated with lanterns, glowsticks and the lights from medieval Limerick. Afterwards, SwimableLimerick’s legendary post swim feast awaits. Hot drinks and treats from The Urban Food Co-op will be served by the hearth of the Curraghgour Boat Club.

The bathing area opens at 6.30pm on Friday 26th October at The Curraghgour Boat Club. We are delighted to be running this as part of Samhain: Limerick’s Halloween festival.

Spaces must be prebooked and are limited. Spaces are now sold out but if you would like to be added to the reserve list please email us at limerickunderground@gmail.com

For any queries please contact Elisa on 087-9120231 or email us at limerickunderground@gmail.com

Limerick Underground gets cultured again

We are hosting a special Speakers Corner in the garden of The Hunt Museum, Limerick on Culture Night, Friday 21st September, from 7-8pm. If you have any thoughts, opinion, ideas or reflections on Limerick, Culture or anything at all, then now is your chance for the world to hear your thoughts. We invite all limerick citizens, young and old, to have the opportunity to stand up and speak about any issue that they feel is important.We will have some fun topics to choose from on the night for any kids that want to try out our speakers corner!

Limerick Speakers Corner is open to everyone and anyone who wants to get up on their soapbox and have their voice heard. Just turn up on the night and let Limerick hear your opinions, views, thoughts and musings. We encourage public discussion and debate for Limerick people to connect in a meaningful and thoughtful way.

LU_poster_September

Help us reinstate Limerick city bathing!

Limerick Council have requested that the public assist them with identifying official bathing areas in Limerick city and county. There are currently no designated bathing areas in Limerick city. A designated bathing area would legally mandate Limerick Council to comply with the following:

  • The water is monitored to ensure it meets stringent microbiological water quality standards. (Currently Limerick Council does not monitor the water quality in the city Shannon as it is not a designated bathing area)
  • Safety measures (including possibility of lifeguards during Summer Season)
  • Detailed description of the identified bathing area
  • Bathing Area profile including an assessment on the risk of pollution and what action would be taken if pollution occurs

This is the first step to the return of baths in our city! Please respond to the Limerick Council with the following information:

  1. Comment on a bathing area that you currently swim in
  2. How many people use this bathing area
  3. What facilities exist at this site and how accessibility it is
  4. Any safety issues

Email this information to the Water Safety Development Officer, Limerick City & County Council, Dooradoyle, Limerick or by email to wsdo@limerick.ie. the deadline is Friday 22nd June

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SwimableLimerick @ Riverfest- Event Information-Update for Reserve List

 

 

As part of Limerick’s Riverfest Festival Weekend, SwimableLimerick have organised two social swims in the River Shannon.

SwimableLimerick @Riverfest is an opportunity for people to dip their toe (and a whole lot more!) into Limerick’s beautiful River Shannon. Our swims take place from the historic Curraghour Boat Club and we provide a fun, relaxed environment for anyone to enjoy the freedom of swimming in the open water. You will be swimming in the heart of medieval Limerick and will experience some stunning vistas of the city from the River Shannon.

Our swims are all about having fun and enjoying the open water, not about fast times or swimming long distances so feel free to just have a bit of a splash or wade your feet into the water. For those whom would like to swim a longer distance, the swimming area will be confined to a 750 metre area and is an opportunity to see sights such as Thomond Bridge,The Treaty Stone and King Johns Castle from a truly, unique perspective. Swimmers can swim as short or far a distance in the designated area as they choose. All swimmers will receive a custom made SwimableLimerick Swimming Cap that they must wear in the water. 

 

The best of Open Water swimming is the food afterwards. Join us by The Curraghour Boat Club fire for our post swim picnicswith good food and company! SwimableLimerick have teamed up with Canteen and The Urban Co-Op for our post swim picnics. In the Boat Club we will be serving hot pittas with homemade choco-nut spread, blueberry drizzle muffins, Rigneys farm granola, The messy Apron Cookies, Ceile Kombucha…and more

This event is opened only to those aged 18 or over but children and supporters are more than welcome to watch from the shore and  join us for a cuppa or juice in the boat club following the swim.  All tickets are free but MUST be pre-booked at the links below. We have to limit each swim to 45 swimmers so tickets are available on a 1st come, 1st served basis. 

The first social swim will take place on Saturday 5th May at 9am, with swimmers in the water for 10am. Tickets for Saturday can be booked here–  SOLD OUT

The second social swim will take place on Monday 7th May at 10.30am, with swimmers in the water at 11.30am. Tickets for Monday can be booked here   SOLD OUT

*All Tickets for both swims are now SOLD OUT. If you would like to be put on the reserve list please email us with your name and contact details at limerickunderground@gmail.com*

 

For any further information please contact Elisa O’Donovan on 087-9120231 or contact us at limerickunderground@gmail.com

We would like to thank Limerick Council for their support with this event. More information on Riverfest can be found here

Restoring The River Shannon-A Limerick event on World Fish Migration Day

Join SwimableLimerick, Old River Shannon Trust and the Limerick Greens at 11am on Saturday 21st April at Ormston House for ‘Restoring the River Shannon’, a Limerick event to mark World Fish Migration Day 2018. We will be joined by speakers on how we can take positive action on the many issues affecting the Lower River Shannon. This event aims to bring together all interested parties who wish to ensure a sustainable, quality and usable River Shannon for all river users in years to come.

Speakers and topics on the morning include:
How to restore the River Shannon (Will O’Connor, Ecofact)
Dublin Water Supply Project and its threats to the Shannon (Gerry Siney, Shannon Protection Alliance)
Reviving salmon angling in the Shannon catchment (Eoin Brocket)

And more……

Directions to Ormston House, Patrick Street, Limerick can be found here.

This event is free and open to all.

For further information please email limerickunderground@gmail.com, follow us on twitter, facebook or drop us a line on 087-9120231

Why we swim from The Curraghgour Boat Club

 

I’m walking along Rutland Street. It’s a cold evening in the city so I brace myself from the harsh winds and stay bundled as close to the passing buildings as I can. My walk takes me past the fading remnants of Limerick’s failed Limerick 2020 bid proclaiming that ‘Culture is where we are from’.  It reminds me of where I am headed and I quicken my pace.

Today is International Women’s Day in the city. There are public meetings being held, evening dinners enjoyed, readings and songs being sung throughout Limerick to celebrate our cities women . My International Women’s Day is ending with a walk along a moonlit Merchants Quay as I approach the Curraghgour Boat Club. Inside awaits a room full of boatmen, with me a lone female, ready to address them all.

12 months ago this space would have held no meaning or interest to me. Indeed, like many Limerick people I have walked by this small, white bungalow perched on the edge of The Shannon numerous times with a mere curiosity. This intrigue increased when a ‘No Bridge Here’ banner was unfurled  along their shoreline proclaiming their existence to our city. Yet a year goes by and here I am, standing in the club house shadow about to address its committee. I reminisce of when I first walked into the club on a basking hot, sunny day in June last year with nothing but an idea of swimming in The Shannon. Me and my swimming togs easily could have been turned away, politely declined for spontaneously evading their Summer’s afternoon. Instead I was met with a cup of tea and a two hour tour of every nook and cranny of what I now believe to be as Limerick’s best kept secret.  Continue reading