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If you were in charge, how would you change Dublin's bus routes?

Would you be more likely to get the bus if they arrived more frequently?

File Photo Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and National Transport Authority Chief Executive published ÒBus ConnectsÓ, the NTAÕs ambitious programme of investment in bus transport for the Greater DublinÊ Area Source: RollingNews.ie

WHAT DO YOU think about Dublin’s current bus system? Complicated? Comprehensive? Infrequent? Efficient?

Whatever your answer is, it could influence how it’s about to change.

The National Transport Authority today announced that they are looking to improve the capital city’s complex network of buses, and they’re keen to get the public’s opinion on what kind of change they would be happy with.

It’s part of the ‘Bus Connects’ project, that looks to modernise the bus route system through faster payment options, a ‘rapid’ bus service and green-energy buses.

A ‘choices’ report by a consultancy firm has looked at the habits of Dublin Bus users and has listed some options in order to make the system less complicated and more frequent.

But what version of the choices proposed depends on if the public think it should change.

From today, an online form will be available from BusConnects.ie where people can submit their feedback about how the routes could change.

The big question

Is it worth having to interchange between buses to have a more frequent service?

The number of passengers that use Dublin Bus is growing year-on-year and the NTA want to know how to make the system more efficient to match that expansion.

The Connection Option is one of the main solutions – it would see lots of long, direct routes divided into shorter routes that would meet in the city centre in the hope of increasing bus frequency and simplifying the system.

Here’s an example – the top map shows how Dublin Bus’ Direct Service Option works, and the bottom map shows the Connection Option:

Simple 2 Source: NTA

This would mean that instead of all 130 bus routes going from A to B (mostly passing through the city centre) you’d have several ‘main’ bus routes going through the city that all buses would travel on, and would eventually branch out into the suburbs.

Here’s an illustration from the report of how it would look in Dublin: the current Dublin Bus system is on the left, the Connection Option is on the right:

pjimage (13) Source: NTA/Jarrett Walker

For example, route A would be one main route that travels through the city centre and out as far as Rathmines, but would branch out into A1, A2, A3, and A4 to serve various areas beyond that.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to this.

The main advantage is that if you’re travelling a short distance (eg, from Artane to Crumlin, or Phoenix Park to UCD), you won’t have to wait for a specific bus, which means you can catch one every 3-4 minutes. The aim would be that these would free up other buses that could serve the ‘outer’ areas, where there would be a wait time of around 15 minutes.

074 Redesign bus network_90514143 Transport Planning Specialist Jarrett Walker today brief media on publication of Choices Report of Bus Services in Dublin. Source: RollingNews.ie

Jarrett Walker, a consultant that works with transport systems around the world and compiled the ‘choices’ report, said that one of the appeals of the Luas system is its simplicity: “it’s just two lines and it’s easy to remember what they do”.

But the current bus route system is very complicated, Walker said, calling it a “barndance” where routes come together in the middle and go off in all directions, making the routes difficult to understand for tourists, and difficult to memorise for locals.

Dublin's bus map The current bus route system. Source: BusConnects

One of the disadvantage of this system would be memorising Dublin Bus’ new route names (no more 145s). There would also be more changes between buses in the city centre, and a wait of around of 3-4 minutes in the centre for the connecting bus.

“It is a nuisance that a walk and a wait might be required, we’re not trying to hide that,” Walker said at a press conference today.

“We know they don’t like interchanges. But if there are more frequent buses, better bus shelters and shorter bus journeys, is it worth it for passengers?” he asks. That’s the question they want Dubliners to answer.

And depending on what answers commuters give to the survey, that will decide how much of Dublin Bus’ network changes.

The new system is not expected to result in fare increases for passengers, and any agreed changes could be in place by the end of 2018 or into 2019.

The consultation will go on for one month, and a full comprehensive plan for Dublin’s bus system will be announced in the autumn.

The Choices report is available here and you can find out more on the BusConnect.ie website.

Read: These are the planned routes for the new ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ network in Dublin

Read: By 2018, transport fleets like Bus Éireann will have green energy buses

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