‘I had to walk home alone because the night bus didn’t show’: Your public transport tales

The Irish Times asked readers about their experiences of public transport and how to improve it

Dublin commuters can use an app to top up their Leap cards, but other cities have advanced further.

Dublin was ranked the worst for public transport among 30 European capital cities last week by environmental campaign group Greenpeace, based on affordability and simplicity for users in purchasing tickets.

Greenpeace EU transport campaigner Lorelei Limousin said: “Affordable public transport is a necessity, but many governments, Ireland’s included, treat it like a luxury good.”

Meanwhile, a report published by the National Transport Authority found that motorists would be far more likely to use public transport if they saw substantial improvements in its quality, availability, capacity and reliability, than if fares were removed.

In response, The Irish Times asked readers to tell us their experiences with public transport in Ireland, and their thoughts on how it could be improved.


Andrew Holt said his commute to DCU in Glasnevin takes about 45 minutes to cycle. “If I were to take the bus in, it would take 75 minutes, half an hour more. This is because the bus goes through the city centre rather than having an orbital route that goes directly to Glasnevin,” he wrote.

“I usually use the bus if I don’t feel like cycling, want to read a book, or want to go drinking. If I could improve the bus service, I would add more orbital routes that don’t go through the city centre and I would allow cyclists to bring their bikes on the bus,” Holt said.

Grazielle Ferreira said she “can’t count the amount of times I was late for work because the bus didn’t show up… Perhaps everybody in the country knows the public transport is not reliable here, so my manager understood.

“The buses not showing up is not acceptable. Many times I had to walk alone home because the night bus didn’t show up and the taxis were just too busy to accept the rides,” she said.

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Stephen Barrett said he has “lived all over the world” and has “not seen anywhere as bad or as expensive as Ireland”.

“No one wants to drive into the city, but the reality is the bus is so unreliable and expensive that almost everyone will choose to drive. It’s bizarre, as the private buses can be on time… Realistically it all needs to be changed from the ground up in order for it to be even close to our European peers,” Barrett wrote.

Una O’Keeffe travels between Cork and Galway by train, noting that the fastest connection, which runs only once a day, takes 3 hours and 50 minutes, while the others can take up to 5 hours 20 minutes.

“For most of the trip there are two power outlets per carriage and of course there is no refreshment. To get to either city from the other by public transportation in time for an 11am appointment, you have to get up in the middle of the night. Having seen the excellent services available on continental Europe, I find this lack of public transportation service here beyond frustrating. In this country, decent routes seem to lead only to Dublin.”

I am in Ashtown, if I need to travel to Inchicore there is no direct connectivity

—  Aaditya Dharma Sivasubramanian

Eilbhe Donovan, who lives in Co Cork, says that to avail of public transport where she lives, “you need to have a car”.

“As ridiculous as it sounds, I would need to walk a minimum of 10km to get the nearest bus. I live beside two villages, but the closest buses are 15km away or 10km away,” she said, adding: “Complete joke, so I went back to driving.”

David Barry felt the results of Greenpeace’s survey were “somewhat baffling”.

“I fail to see how London, with an extensive public transport network, can rank as one of the worst cities in Europe, while somewhere like Luxembourg, which has comparatively little in the way of public transport, can rank as one of the best? There’s obviously a huge difference in scale between London and Luxembourg, and public transport in London is admittedly expensive,” he said, adding: “I’d be inclined to take Dublin’s rank as the worst in Europe with a hefty dose of salt – based on my experience of the two cities, Dublin’s public transport system is at least as good as Luxembourg’s.”

Denis McGrath’s experience of Bus Éireann has been “nothing but positive since I received my Free Travel Pass” and he had “absolute confidence in their service”.

“So I do not understand the findings of Greenpeace,” he said.

Aaditya Dharma Sivasubramanian’s “biggest concern” about public transport was the lack of “direct connectivity within parts of Dublin”.

“I am in Ashtown, if I need to travel to Inchicore there is no direct connectivity. I have to go to city centre and from there I need to board another bus. This takes more than an hour. Whereas in the car it just takes 18-20 mins with moderate traffic,” he wrote.

If you don’t have a Leap card, you can only pay the bus with the exact amount in cash

—  Enrique Marenco Jimenez

Jane Bourke felt her area in Co Dublin was “well facilitated with public transport”, but there was “notably less development on the north side of the city”.

“The bus is a fantastic service that is widely available on both the north and south sides of the city. It would be very welcome to see some further development of the Luas and Dart lines farther [to the] north side, as that is the area that is most ignored. All in all, though, I feel that the transport gets a harsher name than is deserved,” she said.

No 42 bus at Fairview, Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan

Enrique Marenco Jimenez notes that it is “hard to get a unique transport ticket” in Ireland, like in Germany, where there is now an offer of €49 per month for all transport.

“I think something like that should be implemented in Ireland if they want to see a change,” he said.

The lack of card payment options were also “frustrating”. “If you don’t have a Leap card, you can only pay the bus with the exact amount in cash. Whenever I have people visiting I reach out to my friends to get Leap cards for them,” he said.

Richard Joyce shared the same frustration, explaining that he is “very lucky living very close to both the Dart and bus” in Co Dublin, but that Ireland is “very behind in ticketing”.

“I was amazed on a trip to London in 2016, how they had improved ticketing, you could just tag on and off with a credit or debit card,” he said, adding that seven years later, Ireland “hasn’t moved on… It should all be on our phones, there should be no topping up”.

How reliable is public transport in Ireland and how can it be improved? Tell us your story using the form below.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times