The reality of living in rip-off Ireland

Every day on The Last Word we're examining the cost of living in our new series, Stretched.

In the third part of the series, we focused on both public and private transport and how much it costs people to get to work. Whether you drive or take the bus or train, are you getting value for money?

Maria Devereaux, producer of Dermot & Dave on Today FM, commutes to work every day from her home in Edenderry, Co. Offaly. "I don't have the option of public transport because the first bus leaves here at 6.15am," she told us. "I moved to a diesel car and it now costs me €75 a week on petrol and €35 a week on tolls."

Barry Aldworth from AA Ireland says petrol costs are among the worst in Europe.

"The average cost of a litre of petrol is €1.34, and 60% of that is made up of tax and is going straight to the government. The emergency taxes are still there when it comes to motoring and that is crippling for commuters. Last year the AA calculated that the cost of running a car was just under €11,000 per year."

For many people, taking the train is not a cheaper alternative, as Mark Gleeson of Rail Users Ireland explained:

"We pay approximately double than what our cousins in Europe pay for an annual ticket. An annual ticket to cover all public transport in Dublin is €2,280. In most other European cities it's about €950."

Professor James Wickham, director of TASC and author of Gridlock: Dublin's transport crisis and the future of the city, says that we need to start making public transport easier to use.

"We are one of the most car-dependent cities in Europe. For many people there's no alternative. The issue is the quality of the service and the quality of the network. The thing about Dublin is that, although there have been some improvements, we still don't have anything that looks like a public transport system."

Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority, says that attempts are being made to reduce the cost of operating public transport.

"On average about 30% of the cost is covered by subsidy - it would be low in comparison to other countries. Unfortunately we've had to transfer some of that cost onto the customer, but we have been able to introduce measures such as the Leap Card."