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Revised bus network will see overall service levels increase by over a quarter

National Transport Authority (NTA) has published its Dublin Area Bus Network Redesign Public Consultation report www.busconnects.ie.

The report has been prepared by Jarrett Walker & Associates, a US based firm which specialises in designing metropolitan public transport systems.

The report makes far-reaching proposals that will bring about improved services for bus passengers in the Dublin metropolitan area and will provide for a more integrated public transport system.

The report proposes a number of fundamental changes to the network of bus services in Dublin:

  • Services to be arranged along seven cross-city super-frequent spines
  • Dramatic increase in the numbers of orbital services
  • Increase in the number of all-day high-frequency services
  • Move to a simplified two-fare system
  • A new route numbering system

Under the proposals, the level of bus service will increase by 27%. This includes services on 11 brand-new orbital routes that will operate on a 15-minute frequency or better, in the north, south and west of the network area.

Fares will be simplified in a way that will make interchange between bus, Dart and Luas seamless. Two Leap fares will be available:

  • A 90-minute fare that will allow a customer any combination of bus, Dart and Luas for a journey, subject to the last leg commencing within 90 minutes of the start of the overall trip.
  • A short-distance fare paid each trip for particularly short journeys.

Services will be organised on the basis of six categories: spines; spine branches; orbitals; other radials; locals; and peak-only services, and the route numbering system will reflect these categories. Spines for example are designated by the letters A to G, which separate into branches further out from the city. Each bus on a spine service would be designated by a letter followed by a digit, for example A1,where the letter indicates the spine, and the digit indicates the specific branch.

These far-reaching plans will be transformative. They will mean that more people will have easier and quicker access to more places, more jobs, more colleges, and more social activities than ever before. This will give people back more time in their days, or their evenings, to spend their time doing the things they want to do.

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.

The document published today follows on from the publication in 2017 by the National Transport Authority of the Choices Report which identified in broad terms the challenges facing the bus system and outlined a range of possible strategies to address those challenges.

The level of engagement from the travelling public under the consultation process around that report, was very positive and it provided valuable insight into how people want to use their bus service.

NTA also engaged with public representatives across the region, all of whom were keen to provide input. That information has been fed into a process that has resulted in the report that is published today.

A process of consultation on today’s report will formally get under way on July 16th and continue for 9 weeks until September 16th. As part of the consultation process, Dublin Bus and NTA will conduct a series of information events across the region. Feedback will be invited from members of the public and other stakeholders.

NTA’s Transport Strategy for GDA adopted by government in 2016 acknowledged that issues related to frequency and reliability, and the legacy of the overly complex network and fare structures, still remained a feature of the bus network. The objective of the proposals in today’s report is to tackle these issues and provide a bus service that is easier to use and more attractive to passengers and to potential passengers.

NTA Chief Executive Anne Graham said: “Redrawing the bus network in Dublin has been a priority for the NTA and was a key element of the overall BusConnects programme that we announced last year.

“The current system of bus routes and services in Dublin is complex, with about 130 different bus routes forming the network. Currently the network is radially focused, with most routes emanating outwards from the City Centre. Orbital bus services – routes that skirt the city – are few and far between. As a result, many bus journeys can only be made by firstly traveling into the city centre on one radial route, and then taking another radial bus service out.

“We believe that a system with greater scope for interconnection between routes, and where connecting passengers don’t necessarily have to travel to the city centre, is one that would be far more attractive and convenient.

“Jarrett Walker and Associates last year produced the Choices Report that outlined the alternative approaches that could be taken to make the system easier to understand and more useful. The report we are publishing today, brings us a significant step closer to that objective.”

Dublin Bus Chief Executive Ray Coyne, said: “This proposed network design is part of an ambitious investment of €2 billion in Dublin’s bus system. BusConnects will deliver over 200 million customer journeys per year which will be of significant benefit to the city and its people.

“While the proposed network is a significant opportunity to continue the growth and success of Dublin Bus, it represents a huge change for everyone in the city.

“This is an opportunity for our customers to have their say on their future bus network. We want to hear from them about whether the proposed redesign will work for them and, if not, what changes would they choose to make. We look forward to speaking directly to them.”

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross said: “The proposals that NTA is publishing today are radical but I believe that they have the potential to make Dublin’s public transport system in general, and its bus system in particular, work much better for the people who use it.

“Under these proposals we will see an overall increase in services of 27% which as far as customers are concerned, can only be a good thing.

“I welcome the fact that the NTA and Dublin Bus are now embarking on a process of public consultation. I know that they are both in listening mode, and if people have suggestions as to how these plans can be made even better, I’m sure they will be looked at closely.

“From that point of view, I would certainly encourage members of the public to fully engage in the consultation process.”