NTA rows back on cuts to direct Dublin city bus routes

Planners say new design will increase capacity and is more coherently planned

A redesign of the bus network in Dublin was launched on Tuesday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/File

A redesign of the bus network in Dublin was launched on Tuesday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/File

 

The number of Dubliners who will lose direct bus routes to the city has been reduced to just five per cent, under revised plans for the redesign of the capital’s bus network.

Additional direct bus services to Dublin city have been included in a revised redesign of the bus network, following widespread public opposition the plans published last year.

The National Transport Authority has said under its revised BusConnects plan 95 per cent of the areas currently with “zero-interchange” to the city would maintain this service and other areas will have a direct service during peak commuter hours.

In July last year, the NTA produced plans for the first complete overhaul of the capital’s bus services, BusConnects, promising more frequent buses and a faster service. But to achieve this a number of journeys which are now direct would involve changing buses and there would be greater distances to stops for some passengers.

Under the 2018 plan up to 15 per cent of users would have lost their direct routes to the city.This has now been reduced to 5 per cent.

Almost 50,000 submissions were made to the NTA , 70 per cent of which related to the loss of existing services or the loss of direct routes. Submissions came from 147 different parts of Dublin city and county, as well commuter towns in surrounding counties that are served by Dublin Bus.

However, deputy NTA chief executive Hugh Creegan said 50 per cent of the submission related to just 22 areas. The “vast number of issues that people raised” in these 22 areas had now been addressed Mr Creegan said.

NTA chief executive Anne Graham said the revisions had addressed “local issues and particularly issues about access to the city centre”. She said: “What we have done is added in additional services in terms of direct services and connected back some links that were broken in the previous proposal.”

BusConnects Routes

Under the previous plan the level of bus service was to increase by 27 per cent, following these changes the level of service will increase by 22 per cent, according to the NTA.

A number of new services to the city are now proposed including Loughlinstown to Mountjoy Square via Glenageary and from Swords to Merrion Square. A service which was due to be axed in Skerries will be retained. Direct services will also be available from Donaghmede, Shanown, Tyrellstown, Sallynoggin and Enniskerry, areas which under the last plan required city centre-bound passengers to change buses.

Politicians have given a cautious welcome to the plan. Fianna Fáil councillor Cormac Devlin said the restoration of a service to Blackrock, which had been due to be cut would be a “relief to many residents” as would the Loughlinstown and Sallynoggin service, but issues around frequency remained he said.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the changes showed the success of “people power”. The Green Party said the NTA “ need to look into communities where there hasn’t been strong engagement and make sure they are reaching out effectively” in the next round of public consultation.

National Bus and Rail Union general secretary Dermot O’Leary said it seemed the NTA had “delivered a considerable amount of change for the benefit of hundreds of thousands of commuters”.

The proposed network was designed for the authority by US transport planner Jarrett Walker. It involves scrapping the current numbering system for all buses . A new lettering system from A to H will identify eight “spines” though the city, with buses running every four to eight minutes. Numbers would be used to indicate different branches of a spine; for example while all “A” buses would pass through Terenure, the A1 would continue to Knocklyon while the A2 would go to Tallaght.

The plan also includes 10 orbital routes to reduce the need for passengers to travel into the city centre. Orbital services operate around the city, providing connections between suburbs and town centres, along with connections to rail, Luas and other bus routes.

Mr Walker had warned the network he designed is “extremely interdependent” and only minor changes could be made or it would “fall apart”.

Ms Graham said she believed the changes to the plan “kept the integrity” of Mr Walker’s original designs.

The NTA has produced brochures for 29 different bus service areas which will be distributed to 650,000 households in the coming weeks.

Submissions on the new designs can be made up to December 3rd, with the designs due to be finalised next year.

The network redesign is part of the BusConnects strategy, which also involves the introduction of 16 core bus corridors, with continuous segregated bus and cycle lanes.

This part of the strategy which could require the acquisition of parts of front gardens and the felling of trees, or restrictions on private cars, has proved contentious in parts of the city.

Revised bus corridor plans are due be published next January.