Some major bus routes will be worse off under €2bn reform plan, TDs warn

Some services look good but those planned for working-class areas will be worse, says Joan Collins

An overhaul of the Dublin Bus network was outlined earlier in July. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

An overhaul of the Dublin Bus network was outlined earlier in July. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Major commuter bus services from Swords, Balbriggan and Dunboyne will be significantly worse off under a €2 billion plan to reform Dublin’s bus routes, TDs have warned.

Problems will arise in Lucan and Leixlip, warned Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy, who said passengers there currently can get a City Speed bus direct to Heuston Station from Lucan in 25 minutes.

However, such passengers will have to change en route under the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) plan, while people living in Carpenterstown will have to travel out to Blanchardstown before getting a city-bound service.

In Bray, the existing 45 commuter service will be replaced by a service running through the congested town centre. “The further you get from the city the greater the loss is,” she warned.

Services in Rathmines and Rathgar under the plan look good, but those promised for working-class areas will be worse, said Independents4Change TD Joan Collins.

Smaller buses

Double-decker buses with 99 people on them travelling in or out from the city centre will link up with smaller buses for the orbital routes that will be only able to take 28 passengers, she said.

The complaints came during a meeting of the Oireachtas Transport Committee on Wednesday, which heard from the NTA and Dublin Bus unions.

However, the head of the NTA said that nearly 1 million Dublin residents will be within 400m of a bus service every 15 minutes or less under the Bus Connects plan.

“While most people won’t need to change buses some people will. In some cases people who currently have a direct service may have to change buses,” said its chief executive, Anne Graham.

Seven “high frequency” lines will be created under the €2 billion Bus Connects plan with buses coming “every four to eight minutes all day”, she told the committee.

Services on orbital routes that will link in with the high-frequency lines will operate every 15 minutes, or less, with easy interchanges, she added.

Damage services

Meanwhile, Dublin Bus union has disagreed openly about the NTA plan, which would see every route in the city being changed and the creation of spinal and orbital routes across the city.

The reforms would end many direct services to the city centre and damage services to working-class communities, said Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers’ Union.

Mr O’Leary told the committee Dublin Bus had tried to use single-deck buses when it developed the Imp service, which failed.

The transport authority had failed to talk to disability groups, or in-house Dublin Bus experts, Mr O’Leary told TDs and Senators.

Many people had bought houses in new estates on the edge of the city because they were on key bus routes, but now those routes “are going south”.

However John Murphy, head of the transport sector at Siptu, said his union welcomed the investment in the bus service which he said was “a positive step”.

Congestion

Criticising the lack of consultation by the NTA, Mr Murphy said the aim of the Bus Connects plan was to create a “reliable, affordable” bus transport system.

Congestion “can and must” be eased, he said, saying that 69 per cent of journeys into the city are made by private cars, while buses represent just 4 per cent of trips.

Bus Connects “can dramatically change those statistics”, he said, adding that Siptu wants services to improve “but it has to be done right”.

Social Democrat Catherine Murphy TD said the 6.20am train from Maynooth was full each morning after Leixlip. Mistakes cannot be made with reforms, she added.

Expressing concern about privatisation, Ms Murphy said people in Celbridge and Lucan fear that school bus services could be put out to tender. “Schoolchildren do not make for a good business plan.”