Dublin Bus express routes receive highest customer complaints

Company says reliability of service affected by reduced number of drivers

NTA figures show Dublin Bus’s Xpresso services were the subject of most complaints from passengers last year. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

NTA figures show Dublin Bus’s Xpresso services were the subject of most complaints from passengers last year. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Dublin Bus express routes, particularly those serving UCD, attract the highest level of complaints from the company’s customers.

Figures published by the National Transport Authority show the company’s Xpresso services, notably those which have a terminus at the Belfield campus, were the subject of most complaints from passengers last year.

However, Dublin Bus had denied that such complaints are linked specifically to services at UCD but are instead “general complaints on service issues”.

The NTA figures show that higher rates of complaints are made about Bus Éireann services which averaged 40 per 100,000 passengers last year.

The Bus Éireann city bus route with the highest level of complaints was the 201 which runs between Cork University Hospital and Lotabeg in Cork which received 239 complaints per 100,000 passengers in the first quarter of 2018 - over four times the national average.

The NTA figures show the 25X, which operates between UCD and Lucan, was the subject of 187 complaints per 100,000 passengers in the third quarter of 2018 – the highest rate for any single quarter across the Dublin Bus network and almost 17 times the average level of complaints last year which was 11.1 per 100,000 passengers.

No complaint rate

However, it had no complaint rate registered in the other three quarters of last year due to having fewer than 10 complaints recorded in each period.

Other routes including the 41X - (UCD-Knocksedan), 39X (Burlington Road-Ongar), 66X (UCD-Maynooth), 67X (UCD-Celbridge) and 84X (Hawkins Street-Kilcoole) had high levels of complaints on a more consistent basis throughout last year.

Dublin Bus said Xpresso routes carry more daily commuters and are designed for faster, more efficient journeys during morning and evening peak traffic due to fewer stops.

Dublin Bus said the level of complaints needed to be seen in the context that it operated a fleet of 1,000 buses which carried more than 400,000 daily passengers in 2018.

“All complaints and incidents reported to Dublin Bus are taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly as per the Dublin Bus Customer Charter and internal procedures,” the spokesperson said.

The company said issues about some services not stopping outside Belfield earlier this year, which had been the subject of complaints from students, were “resolved and restored”. Dublin Bus drivers had refused to stop at the UCD campus on late services because of concern about anti-social behaviour.

The normal routes with the highest level of complaints on the Dublin Bus network were the 84 (Blackrock-Newcastle), 25 (Merrion Square-Lucan) and 61 (Eden Quay-Whitechurch).

A total of 14,646 complaints were made by passengers to Dublin Bus last year - down almost 4 per cent on 2017 figures.

More than half of all complaints related to “service experience”, while a quarter were about “staff issues”.

Anti-social behaviour

There were 210 complaints about anti-social behaviour - 1.4 of the total - while issues about real-time information accounted for less than 1% of complaints,

The number of complaints to Dublin Bus in the first half of 2019 is 5,042 – a decrease of 17 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year and equivalent to a rate of 8.5 complaints per 100,000 passengers.

Dublin Bus admitted that the reliability of its services was affected during the third quarter of last year due to reduced driver numbers.

The company said it was caused by lower recruitment levels in advance of a transfer of a number of routes to GoAhead,

The British bus company, which took over more than 20 routes from Dublin Bus, has also faced criticism in recent weeks over the reliability of its services.

The NTA confirmed that GoAhead is facing fines for failing to adequately deliver services which it blamed on “higher than expected driver resignations”.

Figures on Bus Éireann show the 109B service (Trim-Dublin) had the highest level of complaints in a single quarter at 292 per 100,000 passengers.

However, routes which were consistently the subject of complaints throughout last year with rates over five times the average were the 103X (Navan/Duleek-Dublin) and 133 (Dublin Airport-Wicklow).

Other routes with above-average level of complaints were the 101X (Dublin-Drogheda) and 115/115A (Dublin-Mullingar).

Service experience

Bus Éireann received a total of 12,468 complaints from passengers last year with over two-thirds relating to service experience.

Staff issues accounted for almost 10 per cent of issues and “negative interaction” for 9 per cent of complaints.

Only 22 complaints were made about anti-social behaviour – 0.2 per cent of all issues reported by passengers last year. However, 103 complaints about anti-social behaviour have been made to Bus Éireann in the first-half of 2019.

Overall the company has received 4,840 complaints in the first six months of this year – down almost 10 per cent on the same period in 2018.

Bus Éireann said said it currently operated more than 200 routes with passenger numbers up 13 per cent last year to 36 million.

“A notable factor in customer complaints is reliability, which is a result of traffic conditions including increased congestion,” a company spokeswoman said.

She added: “All customer feedback is reviewed on a monthly basis in order to identify recurring patterns and, where possible, changes are made to improve our customer experience.”