We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Alamy Stock Photo
not yet

Dublin Bus fares can't be cut before May as on-board machines need to be manually recalibrated

Every ticket machine in every bus has to be manually tweaked to deal with the technical upgrade.

A PLANNED 20% fare reduction currently being rolled out across the country’s transport network can’t be implemented by Dublin Bus any sooner than next month as on-board fare machines each need to be manually recalibrated. 

The fare reduction, announced with much fanfare by the government earlier this year, is being rolled out on some bus services outside Dublin from Monday.  

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan announced in February the Government’s decision to reduce fares on public transport services by 20% until the end of 2022. A target of April or early May was given for all of the changes to take effect. 

Some had questioned why the changes were taking so long to come into effect. 

Due to the mounting pressure on Government to come up with new and innovative measures to ease the cost of living burden, it’s understood there’s also some frustration within Government as to why the discount can’t be brought in sooner.

The National Transport Authority has been working with public transport operators over the last number of weeks to roll out the fare reductions. 

The Journal has learned the fare reductions cannot be passed on immediately to Dublin Bus customers due to the need for upgrades to on-board machines. Every ticket machine in every bus has to be manually recalibrated and updated with the fare change, it is understood. 

The equipment that deals with fares is “really old” said one source. “There’s no button you can press on a computer that updates them overnight.”

A technical file update is sent from headquarters to bring in the change through the system, but each machine on every bus and ticketing machine needs to upload it.

It is believed Ryan wanted to have the measure in place much sooner but that issues with the machines mean the reductions can’t be rolled out before next month. 

The 20% reduction in fares across all Irish Rail, Dart and Luas services will also kick in in May. It’s understood a decision was made to introduce all of these changes around the same time in a bit to present the public with a greater degree of consistency. 

Sources state the “interoperability” of the fare system across bus, train and tram in Dublin city requires extensive testing that must be carried out to ensure all systems have integrated the fare change before it is rolled out in May.

They added that it is “most complicated fare change since the launch of the Leap card”, given that there are different groups getting discounts on top of the overall reduction being rolled out. 

Dublin Bus directed The Journal to the NTA for comment on the matter. 

A spokesperson said the implementation of the fares reduction got under way underway 1 April, adding that it was never the case that all fares were to be reduced at same time.

All changes are on schedule, they said.

On the issue of updating the machines with the fare reductions and the time it takes to do so, the spokesperson said:

“It is a laborious process, that takes time to complete but we’ve always been clear on that.”

Updating the ticketing system is more straightforward when it comes to rail services, as there are only a certain number of machines at each station. However it’s expected that in order to be consistent all Dublin Bus and rail systems in the capital will change their fares on the same date in May. 

The NTA spokesperson said they did not know whether some in Government had hoped the fare reductions could be brought in sooner, but said that that NTA had “been at pains not to build up expectations that it could be expedited to any great extent”.

“We’re on schedule to meet that deadline, and in fact we are ahead of it for a lot of services.

“From Monday next, all subsidised services operated by Bus Eireann and all services on our Local Link routes in rural areas will see a 20% fare cut,” they said.

A spokesperson for the minister said the first phase of fare reductions already kicked in on 1 April, with 20% already being taken off the ‘tax saver’ fare.

The second phase of reductions, which will see 20% taken off fares for public service operators such as Bus Eireann outside of Dublin will be rolled out “very shortly”, they said.

Ryan and his officials are currently finalising new measures that will help tackle rising costs with a hope they can be signed off by Cabinet next week.

However, there is concern within Government that there is a need to manage the public’s expectations as to what might be announced next week, with sources stating that it won’t go far enough to cushion the blow of rising costs for everyone.

Any further reductions in public transport fares would likely happen in the Budget in October and not next week, sources have indicated. 

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel