Future Dublin bus services may be less frequent than planned due to Covid-19

NTA says long-term effects of pandemic could impact on service levels under BusConnects

Bus services in Dublin could be less frequent than had originally been planned under the new BusConnects programme, the National Transport Authority has said. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Bus services in Dublin could be less frequent than had originally been planned under the new BusConnects programme, the National Transport Authority has said. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Bus services in Dublin could become less frequent than had originally been planned under the new BusConnects programme, due to the long-term consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has said.

A redesigned bus network for Dublin, which was to see a 23 per cent increase in the level of bus services, is due to be implemented from next year.

However, deputy NTA chief executive Hugh Creegan has said the pandemic may affect the frequency of buses required in the future, given a possible increase in remote working and education as a result of Covid-19.

“Instead of X number of buses along a particular corridor, it may be that X-1 number of buses is required,” he said. However, he said it was unlikely the “core system” of the new BusConnects network would need to be changed because of the pandemic.

Mr Creegan was speaking on Thursday at the launch of the NTA’s review of the Greater Dublin Area Transport Strategy.

Potential rail lines to Navan, Rathfarnham and UCD will be assessed as part of the review of the €10.3 billion strategy, which was published in 2016.

The extension of an existing rail line from the M3 Parkway to Navan had been shelved in 2016. However, Mr Creegan said the NTA would next month be seeking a team to assess the potential for the line.

The potential for metro services to Terenure, Rathfarnham and Knocklyon and to UCD and Sandyford will also be assessed as part of the review. Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan is on record as favouring rerouting existing plans for a southside metro line to Rathfarnham.

However, speaking at the launch on Thursday, NTA chief executive Anne Graham said this “Metro South” was “required [to] serve extensions of the Luas lines into Bray”. Mr Creegan said it was likely two new southern metro lines under assessment would be considered as “individual projects” rather than extensions of the existing plans.

MetroLink

The NTA hopes to make an application to An Bord Pleanála for the MetroLink from Swords and Dublin Airport to the city centre in April. The line had been intended to continue to Sandyford, but this was last year shelved, with the NTA announcing that the line would terminate at Charlemont at the Grand Canal near Ranelagh where it meets the Luas Green line.

However, the NTA at the time said it would tunnel past the Charlemont stop to allow the conversion of the southside Luas Green line to metro “to occur at an appropriate point in the future”, but the upgrade would not be required “for some time, perhaps 20 years or so”.

The review of the strategy will establish the priority projects up to 2042, and is expected to take a year to complete.

The NTA has published an “issues paper” as part of the review, asking the public to provide their views and objectives as part of a preliminary consultation process. A second consultation process will take place about the middle of next year, following the development of draft strategy proposals.