When we think about Dublin Bus most of us have mixed feelings, who can forget the time the bus driver slammed the door in your face and pulled off just as you were about to get on?, or equally, the time they saw you running for the bus in their wing mirror and waited for you to get on the bus panting and sweating. Over the last few years Dublin Bus has seen a number of changes, getting rid of less profitable routes, changing some services from every fifteen minutes to every half an hour or the new buses with chargers and Wi-Fi. But now, we are going to see the biggest change of all with the possible privatisation of 10% of Dublin Bus routes as well as Dublin Bus changing over to BusConnects. BusConnects is a two-billion-euro plan to improve public transport in Dublin, Cork and Galway. This change proposed by Transport for Ireland is due to the increased level of congestion in Dublin city, having to meet the needs of the ever-growing population and more efficient bus routes being implemented through network redesign.
Bus corridor projects is the primary focus of Bus Connects and their re-invention of Dublin Bus. BusConnects intends to develop bus corridors along all the major veins and arteries of the city with the hope of pumping more life and efficiency into Dublin’s transport. They want to have bus “corridors” where there is a continuous stream of buses with people having to wait no more than a few minutes for a bus. These corridors will total 230km worth of bus routes across Dublin. BusConnect are proposing that these corridors would all contain a dedicated cycle lane and a separated dedicated bus lane. However, questions have to be raised over this plan, will the cycle lanes loop around all bus stops or will the buses have to cross the cycle lane in order to serve each stop? Will the bus lanes and bus stops not be clogged with buses if they are running every three minutes and as a result increase congestion? Buses aren’t like trains, there are a lot more variables that effect their punctuality such a traffic lights and taxi drivers to name just two. Are these bus corridors really going to improve efficiency?
Just The Ticket is one of the more welcome and long overdue proposals by Transport for Ireland. The current payment process on buses is seen a major source of delay for a number of reasons including the continued use of coin payments and the driver haven’t to calculated different fair stages. Some of the proposed changes BusConnects are considering include implementing a tag-on/tag-off system similar to the Luas, its’s uncertain if this will decrease delays. They are also considering introducing a flat fare rate something that will certainly decrease bus payment delays, this has been implemented successfully in other cities such as London. Either way BusConnects is moving towards a cashless payment system, for this to be effective however they will need to incorporate contactless payments for public transport through the medium of apple-pay or contactless bank cards. It is also beyond time that Transport for Ireland incorporate a way or using different mediums of public transport on the one ticket for no added cost if it’s within a certain time constraint.
BusConnects has faced a lot of backlash over the last number of weeks as people have learnt that their beloved bus routes and routes upon which they rely will soon become non-existent. Some have gone on to say that the backlash will be similar to the backlash that the government faced over the water charges. As well as this there is still a lot of uncertainty around the future of Dublin Bus, Minister for Transport Shane Ross has done little provide clarity and has said he has nothing to do with the BusConnects plan and that he has no responsibility for the National Transport Authority. If we can’t get clarity from our Minister for Transport, where are we supposed to get it from?
Most people agree that the public transport in Dublin is, as it stands inadequate. Every morning people wait at bus stops as countless buses drive past them already full, countless other people wait at bus stops waiting for buses that have been delayed five, ten, fifteen minutes (if they’re lucky!) only for the bus to then arrive and to be full and having to wait for the next bus again. Is BusConnects the answer to these problems? I don’t know, no-one seems to know. No matter what changes are proposed there will be backlash form the public because we love to complain and even more than that we hate change even if it is in our best long-term interests.
The best way forward for BusConnects is to increase clarity surrounding the future of transport in Dublin. Although there is a lot of information on www.busconnects.ie about BusConnects, some of these plans seem idealistic and need to be more concrete. People need to know that the bus they rely on to get to school or work will still be there after these changes.