Operators awaiting clarification on possible public transport restrictions

No direction yet on Christmas late night services, reduced capacity or Covid certs

Weekend, late night, ‘Nitelink’ services leaving Dublin City Centre for the suburbs up to 4am and operated by Dublin Bus, remain in place at present. Photograph:  Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Weekend, late night, ‘Nitelink’ services leaving Dublin City Centre for the suburbs up to 4am and operated by Dublin Bus, remain in place at present. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Uncertainty surrounds public transport arrangements for Christmas as new restrictions on nightclubs and indoor entertainment venues come into force on Tuesday.

As nightclubs close and strict social distancing is reimposed in bars that are required to close at midnight, the State’s main public transport providers have said they have received no advice from Government on whether traditional late late night services should be curtailed.

The transport companies have also not yet been told if they should revert to reduced capacity in vehicles, in line with the expected rise in cases of the omicron Covid-19 variant .

Operators of long distance buses and trains have also been given no new advice on whether or not they should ask for digital Covid certificates, before allowing passengers - some of whom may be unvaccinated - to board buses and sit right beside other passengers, often for several hours at a time.

A spokeswoman for Dublin Bus said restrictions across Public Transport was “a decision taken by Government. Dublin Bus will continue to follow all public health instructions that are issued by the Government.”

The spokeswoman confirmed “there has not been any re-introduction of restrictions to capacity onboard” and added: Government has not advised of any planned changes to service arrangements pre-Christmas.”

Weekend, late night, “Nitelink” services leaving Dublin City Centre for the suburbs up to 4am and operated by Dublin Bus, remain in place.

Bus Éireann told The Irish Times that it too had been given no instructions on capacity or Covid certification. Bus Éireann services will continue to run according to timetable, without capacity restrictions.

Transdev, which operates Dublin’s tram system, also confirmed that no communication about the reintroduction of restrictions had been received from either the National Transport Authority or Government. As such, normal services would be in place.

Irish Rail was one of the few public transport operators which said it would take a decision about late night services depending on demand. The company said demand this was very low, last weekend.

Its current schedule envisaged having late night Dart and Commuter services operating on the weekends in the run-up to Christmas, and after Dublin’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.

A spokesman said, however, that the additional late-night Dart and Commuter services for this year were already aligned with the midnight closure of bars, restaurants and other venues in the hospitality sector.

Late night services will have security personnel on board to ensure customer safety.

In line with Government guidance, wearing a face covering is now compulsory on public transport. The rules will apply to all passengers in public areas, however, exemptions will apply for those who are not able to wear a face covering for medical reasons and children under 13.

The Department of Transport was asked for a comment.