One Response to Dublin: Video of My Presentation

  1. Roy Harford June 25, 2017 at 4:14 pm #

    Hi Jarrett, I was at that presentation and was very impressed by it. As a planning student in UCD, and a daily user of Dublin’s buses, I completely agree with the points you make. Dublin has a very extensive bus network, but its just too complicated and inefficient. With just a few simple changes, I really believe that Dublin has the potential to have a great public transport network.

    However, there’s a few extra points which I feel are also very important, but haven’t really been mentioned in the presentation or in the choices report:

    1. Operating hours

    The last buses to and from the city centre depart at 23:30 each night. If you’re travelling across the city (as I often do between UCD and my home in Swords), you realistically have to leave at 22:30 to give yourself enough time to make your last connecting bus from the city centre at 23:30. This makes the buses unreliable for people who are doing things late or attending events, and is annoying as people have to keep checking the time to make sure they don’t miss their last bus. The Nitelink service is good, but it only runs on Friday and Saturday nights, and only in one direction, from the city centre outwards, so is no good for cross-city travel. The Nitelink services also follow different routes to their daytime versions, which can be confusing and off-putting for people.

    Similarly in the mornings, most routes only begin operating from 6am. Like many people in Swords, both of my parents worked in nearby Dublin Airport, where the busiest hour for departing flights is 6-7am, and as a result many staff begin work from 4am. Unfortunately as the first bus from Swords to the airport is at 6am, none of these workers (or passengers) can avail of public transport. While redesigning the network can bring many benefits, if the buses don’t run, then people just can’t rely on them, and I personally feel that the limited opening hours is the single biggest downfall of public transport in Dublin. It would be nice to eventually have buses running every hour throughout the night along the main corridors, as this would give people the certainty that they can always travel when they need to. The 109A regional bus started 24 hour operations a few months ago and it would be interesting to find out how successful this has been.

    2. Route numbers

    Dublin actually has quite a good bus network at present, with 20 routes operating at least every 15 minutes. But it is too confusing to understand, and it is very difficult to distinguish a high frequency route from a limited peak-only route. For example, three of the busiest routes in the city are the 39a, the 46a and the 145, the most random numbers you could think of (the 39a is three times as frequent as the 39, while a 46 doesn’t even exist anymore)! And adding to this confusion is the issue that many sources list bus routes in purely numerical order, without any consideration of frequency. For example, if you want to travel from the city centre to UCD, you might be advised to take the 7b, 7d, 25x or 32x (all limited peak-only routes) before being advised to take the 39a (every 10 minutes all day).

    Belfast has quite a clear network, with 12 high frequency routes, which are numbered from 1 to 12 and are shown on maps as thick coloured lines, while lower frequency routes have higher numbers and are shown as thin grey lines. Similarly, Berlin has a very clear system where high frequency routes are known as “Metrobus” and have an “M” at the start of their route number to make them distinctive. All “M” buses run every 10 minutes throughout the day as well as every 30 minutes at night, so people know they can always rely on them. Dublin needs a clear numbering system so that people can know that a bus is frequent from just seeing the route number. We already have a number of very frequent routes, but people just don’t know which ones they are. Possibly the Luas lines and DART could also be given numbers as part of a new numbering system, to highlight the fact that the core bus routes are just as frequent as these lines are.

    3. Matching opposing spine corridors

    While I agree with your spine network concept, it is important to consider the different journeys people are making when matching the spines on either side of the city centre to each other. For example, in the alternative network suggested in the options report, someone travelling from Heuston Station to UCD would be required to make one change, where under the existing network the 145 provides a direct link. While one interchange might seem reasonable, you have to remember that anyone travelling from Heuston has already interchanged off a train, so it is actually two changes that they now need to make to get to UCD (and maybe three changes, if you include the journey from home to the train station).

    In addition to this, a lot of students living on campus in UCD also use the trains to travel to and from home at the weekends, and are regularly travelling to and from Heuston Station with suitcases, so a direct bus makes this very convenient. I know that what was contained in the options report was just a concept and not a specific proposal, however it is important that the different types of cross city journeys are considered and that the spine corridors are appropriately matched with each other. Many cross city routes are already very frequent, and have developed a lot of cross city traffic on them, so it may be logical to keep them.

    4. Closing missing links to create new interchange opportunities

    Dublin has a lot of missing links in its public transport network, and there are many trip generating places which are fairly close to public transport corridors, but poorly connected to them. For example, UCD, a major trip destination, is only 2km from the DART line, however the two bus routes which connect them are infrequent and unreliable, and up to recently very few students and staff travelled by rail. The university has been very proactive in trying to address this, by providing its own subsidised shuttle bus in the mornings and evenings, which has increased the rail mode share for students and staff, but is still a very limited service. One of the NTA’s proposed core orbital routes is planned to run from Tallaght via Dundrum to UCD. For example, it would make sense to extend this route by an extra 2km to close the gap to the DART line, and create a new interchange opportunity with rail services for people travelling to and from places like UCD and Dundrum.

    5. Connections to less frequent routes

    One of your possible strategies is to provide lower frequency suburban routes feeding into the higher frequency routes into the city centre. While somebody connecting from the feeder route onto the high frequency route would have a very short interchange time, someone travelling in the opposite direction could have a considerably longer wait. At present, where a direct route operates from the city centre to a suburb at specified times, people can plan ahead so that they can take that particular bus. However, if they have to connect from a frequent bus onto a less frequent feeder route, then this makes it difficult to plan ahead, as in many cases the journey time for their frequent bus will vary from day to day.

    While the example of Dunboyne used in the choices report would probably be ok with a 20 minute frequency, a feeder route with a 30 minute or 60 minute frequency would be problematic. The journey from the city centre out to the interchange point might vary from 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic on a particular day, so somebody trying to make a particular departure on their feeder route would have to leave 50 minutes in advance to leave enough time to make their connection, but could then end up having to wait 20 minutes at the interchange point if the traffic isn’t bad on that day. While the BusConnects programme plans to improve the infrastructure to make journey times more reliable, this probably won’t be in place at the time of the network changes, so it needs to be considered. Should a guaranteed connection be provided in some circumstances, with feeder buses waiting a few minutes if the higher frequency buses are delayed?

    I have given a lot of UCD examples above, but the same principles can apply in many other cases across the city. Please keep the above points in mind. I really look forward to seeing the proposed redesign in the coming months, and its implementation next year!