A Need for Improvement
There has been a lot of focus recently regarding commuting in Ireland. An outdated Dublin Bus network, insufficient payment schemes and traffic congestion have led to an initiative to reform. Dublin Live reported a potential €1 billion overhaul to the current public transport system by the National Transport Authority. The overhaul will implement new features such as new payment methods, more up-to-date bus routes, and less traffic congestion. The report came around as a means of protest against the unacceptable traffic on Irish commuter routes, especially at peak times. The current bus network system has been in place for far too long in a quickly evolving country. Not enough change has occurred to adapt to new roads and other transport methods, such as the LUAS and DART systems.
What Will Change?
An ideal change would involve synchronisation between the three main methods of commuting in Ireland, the Bus, LUAS and DART/Commuter. Thankfully, this is one of the main functions of the proposed overhaul of the system. Several changes are to be put in place to speed up the efficiency of these traffic systems, such as better payment options, network connectivity, and timetabling.
The BusConnects Initiative
BusConnects is an initiative with the aim of modernising the current bus network, by creating several “Spines” as a basis for all key routes. These spines will be the long, frequent routes from the far edges of the Dublin Area towards Dublin City. Each spine will have many smaller bus routes leading off it, reaching out to the smaller towns and villages and connecting them to the spines. Obviously, this implies that some commuters may need to take more than one bus to reach their destination, including those who may not have had to before. But do not fear for your purse, as BusConnects has addressed this with their new proposed fare system too.
While leap cards are useful, they can be inconvenient to top-up and keep an eye on, especially if you only travel during peak hours and don’t own a smartphone with NFC support. So what has been done to address or improve this? Well, a fare for 90 minutes of any public transport (limited to Dublin Bus, Go-Ahead Ireland, DART, and LUAS) has been proposed. Soon enough, commuters may have the option to tag-on and then not have to tag-on to any other means of travel for the next 90 minutes, or just tag-on the exact fare for their destination as normal. And what’s more, as previously mentioned, more payment options will also be available. Payment via credit or debit card, or even with your smartphone will be possible in the near future, as it is in London already.
The First Steps begin with Dublin Bus
According to the report by Dublin Live, the time taken to pay for the service is the second largest delay in the system, after traffic. These two changes; the payment options and the new routed system, aim to see to both of these issues. What’s more, the first steps have already been taken to link the various options of travel too. The Transport For Ireland App and Journey Planner App have already presented themselves as an official link between Dublin Bus, Go-Ahead Ireland, Irish Rail and LUAS. They have detailed information on timetables, delays, and maps for all of the supported modes of transport.
The Goal in Perspective
TFI has said on their website that “the number of people living within 400m of a bus service that operates every 10 minutes or better, will increase by 35% from 480,000 to 650,000. The number of people living within 400m of a bus service that operates every 15 minutes or better, will increase by 31% from 765,000 to almost 1,000,000. The number of jobs or college places situated within 400m of a bus service operating every 10 minutes or better will increase by 18% from 540,000 to 640,000.”
On the 7th of October, Go-Ahead officially took over several Dublin Bus routes. This marks the first step in the reformation of the bus system. Go-Ahead took over the following bus routes: 45A, 45B, 59, 63, 63A, 75, 75A. Several of the routes have also been optimised to improve timing and access. On top of that, Go-Ahead released a new route in September, the 175 from Tallaght to UCD via Citywest. For the moment, the fares remain as they have been since December 2017.
Go-Ahead Ireland has released their aims for the coming months: the transfer of the 7A, 102, 33A, 220, 33B and 104 routes to the Go-Ahead Buses in November, followed by the 18, 76, 239, 270, 238, 76A, 236, 17, 114 and 161 routes in January next year. You can read more about the active changes in detail here. Presumably, the Spine System will start its rollout shortly after Go-Ahead has finished their takeover. This would explain why none of the current-existing popular and essential routes, such as the 38, 145 or 46A, are set to change to Go-Ahead.