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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 13 April 2021

Dublin Bus raked in €5.7 million in unclaimed change in six years - these are the routes it makes its money on

Just five routes account for nearly 30% of overpayments on Dublin Bus services.

0802 Dublin Bus_90528725 Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

DUBLIN BUS HAS earned €5.7 million from unclaimed change receipts in the past six years.

However, the transport company is now pulling in less than 50% of what it was in 2012, most likely as a result of the bedding-down of the cross-platform Leap Card.

At present the company is earning just over €50,000 per month on unclaimed receipts.

Figures released to TheJournal.ie under freedom of information show that the amounts earned vary greatly by service route.

Dublin Bus has operated an exact-change policy for the past 15 years, with a receipt issued to each customer paying over the odds for their journey.

The company tends to plough the money it pulls in via unclaimed change back into local community support schemes. The money is collated in an unclaimed passengers change fund, with a rolling cash float maintained in order to pay customers who wish to reclaim their receipts on the spot.

There is no expiration date or time limit for the reclamation of change. Dublin Bus has previously stated that it is the only urban bus network in Europe to operate such a system.

It took some time for commuters to get the hang of the refund system and claim back their receipts en masse. However, despite an increase in customer savvy (the high water mark for reclaimed money was 2011 with 33%), at present just 10%, one in 10, of fare receipts are reclaimed.

All told, before refunds, the company has reeled in €7.28 million in fare overpayments since 2012.

Just a fifth of that money (€1.54 million) has been reclaimed from Dublin Bus’s head office on O’Connell Street.

In the first three months of 2018, the company benefited to the tune of €142,022 due to unclaimed change receipts.


The money made on unclaimed change, however, varies considerably by route.

Of the 90 services tallied since 2012, just five of them accounted for nearly 30% (€1.97 million) of all monies gathered – suggesting commuters on those routes are a deal less precise with their change.

Since 2012 the five biggest earners (not counting receipts claimed) for Dublin Bus were:

  1. The 15, Clongriffin to the Ballycullen Road – €435,149
  2. The 46a, Phoenix Park to Dun Laoghaire – €405,102
  3. The 16 – Dublin Airport to Ballinteer – €391,471
  4. The 39 – Burlington Road to Ongar – €380,041
  5. The 27 – Clarehall to Jobstown – €358,624

In 2017, the only variation from that top five was the number 40 (Charlestown Shopping Centre to Liffey Valley) which pipped the 27 for a fifth-place finish. The 15 topped the table in the same year with gross takings of €45,065.

And the five least lucrative routes? In 2017, they were:

  1. The 56, Ballymount Road to Walkinstown Avenue – €1,156
  2. The 63, Dun Laoghaire to Kilternan – €1,504
  3. The 26, Merrion Square to Palmerstown – €1,709
  4. The 270, Blanchardstown Centre to Dunboyne – €1,732
  5. The 61, Eden Quay to Whitechurch – €1,874

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Diminishing returns

However, the money being made is most certainly on the wane, with the introduction and foothold of the Leap Card (which debuted in 2011 and allows for discounted travel while removing exact change from the equation entirely) gradually making change receipts increasingly redundant.

9878 Dublin Bus_90527807 Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Before claimed refunds, €674,000 was raked in via overpayments in 2017. That stands at just over a third of the €1.8 million taken in in 2012.

Conclusion? More and more people are using Leap Cards. But those that aren’t also aren’t reclaiming their dues to the same extent their fancy dan Leap Card-sporting peers used to.

Just 10.4% of fares were reclaimed in 2016. In 2012 that figure was 29.4%.

So it’s a game of diminishing returns for the company. However it will continue to make in the region of €600,000 in unclaimed receipts each year for the foreseeable future judging by recent trends.

In fact, overall income from the scheme is currently just under €10,000 greater for this year than for the first three months of 2017.

Old habits die hard after all.

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