Shane Ross says older people should not fear redesign of bus services

New network will see more changes of bus for some trips

The new Dublin Bus network, due to be in place at the end of next year, promises more frequent buses and a faster service. Photograph: Getty Images

The new Dublin Bus network, due to be in place at the end of next year, promises more frequent buses and a faster service. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Older people and poorer communities on the margins of Dublin “have nothing to fear” from the redesign of Dublin Bus services, Minister for Transport Shane Ross has said.

The new network, due to be in place at the end of next year, promises more frequent buses and a faster service. However, this will involve more frequent bus changes, the elimination of some direct routes, and greater distances to stops for some passengers.

The redesign will also see the scrapping of all existing route numbers, and their replacement with a simplified lettering system, along with the creation of new orbital and local “feeder” bus routes.

Speaking at the publication of the proposed new network, Mr Ross acknowledged there would be concern about such “radical” changes, but he said the changes would benefit passengers.

It would be “utterly wrong” if older people or disadvantaged communities had worse services as a result, he said, but he was confident this would not be the case. “Politically, my primary objective on public transport is to facilitate the disadvantaged, isolated and pensioners, and that would be an absolute top priority when considering the detail of this. Older people have nothing to fear.”

When asked if he was concerned about the loss of the 46a route, which runs to Dún Laoghaire in his constituency, he said it would be “unwise” of him to comment on a particular route, “but let me just say there are going to be no numbers in future, but if numbers are lost it doesn’t mean routes will be lost, it just means the people will have to become familiar with the new names”.

US-based transport consultant Jarrett Walker, who undertook the redesign for the National Transport Authority, said it was inevitable not all passengers would welcome the changes.

Travel patterns

“I have never been through a process like this when everyone has been happy with the proposed network. That is not how it works. Redesigns always change travel patterns that people are used to, and sometimes there are some people for whom the new network may not be as convenient as the existing one.”

He said some people may have to walk a little further to reach better services, but this would not exceed 400m, which is the walking distance standard across the existing service, and there would be an increased level of all-day service.

“That’s because we are interested in pensioners, we are interested in people who work in Spar. We are interested in all of these people, frankly the majority of people who are travelling all the time, not just at peak period.”

However, he said the needs of different public transport users had to be balanced.

“Retired people are on a different type of schedule in their lives to other people in the population. There will be an issue of balancing the needs of retired people with the needs of working people who tend to be more of a hurry. Public transport must be useful to people who are in a hurry.”