Sam Boal/
Phase Two

Buses and Dart services to operate pre-Covid 'Monday to Friday' schedule from next week

But social distancing requirements will still mean capacity on services will be just over 20% of pre-Covid levels.

SERVICES ON PUBLIC Transport will increase from Monday as Phase Two of re-opening the country gets under way, but people are being advised to wear face coverings and only use the services for essential journeys.

Furthermore, social distancing requirements will mean that overall capacity on these services will be restricted to 20% of pre-Covid levels.

As Ireland largely shut down at the end of March, services for Irish Rail, Dublin Bus, Go-Ahead Ireland and Bus Éireann were reduced by around one-fifth by the start of April. 

The National Transport Authority (NTA) said this morning that from next week, a service in line with the pre-Covid “Monday to Friday” schedule will be in place for buses and Dart services. 

Buses – including Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann – will also revert to pre-Covid schedules at weekends. However, Dart schedules on Saturdays and Sundays will continue to operate at reduced levels.

There will also be additional capacity and services on commuter and intercity rail routes.

In a statement, Bus Éireann said that the two metre social distancing requirement means that single deck buses are limited to a maximum of 14 passengers, with double deck buses limited to a maximum of 19. 

Its chief executive Stephen Kent said: “In line with the new guidance on gradual easing of restrictions, we ask for continued support in observing necessary social distance and hygiene measures.

These measures will continue to limit our bus capacity in this phase, especially during peak hours, and we therefore ask for public understanding and co-operation on this issue and to only travel on our service when the journey is essential.

It added revised timetables can be found here

As no changes had been made to Luas or Local Link services at the start of the crisis, these schedules will remain unchanged. 

NTA CEO Anne Graham said: “While there is some increase in services planned for next week, social distancing requirements mean that overall capacity remains restricted to just over 20% of pre-Covid levels. This means that public transport should only be used by essential workers or for other people making essential journeys.

Only those who absolutely have to travel at peak times on public transport, should do so. Others making essential journeys should avoid peak times and travel and at other times of the day if at all possible. Peak times to be avoided are before 9.30 in the morning and between 3.00 and 6.00 in the evening.

Graham said that the more people who continue to work from home – if they are able to do so – the better equipped public transport services will be able to cope with the increased demand in the coming weeks. 

She also encouraged people who are able to do so to walk or cycle to their place of work. 

When asked will passengers be turned away from buses or trans if capacity is full, Graham said it is easier to deal with bus capacity as operators deal with such issues on a normal day-to-day basis, adding that for a double-decker bus there will only be 17 seats available.

“As they get closer to reaching that space, drivers will unfortunately be stopping people from boarding. It does mean you might not be able to get on the bus you thought you were going to be able to board,” she said.

Train and Luas will be more difficult to manage, said Graham, stating they are relying on passengers to manage the social distancing system, along with transport operators. 

She said staff will be able to advise passengers on train platforms if capacity has been reached.

The normal rules are that bikes cannot be brought on trains during peaks hours, however, Graham said it is something the NTA will be considering, particularly as there will be more space on trains due to social distancing. 

The NTA is encouraging the public to wear face coverings on public transport, with a public awareness campaign being launched this weekend.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said the staggered opening times for retail shops from Monday will help to “minimise significant expected pressures on public transport at peak times”. 

“It is important that we all continue to do our part in addressing this challenge and ensure that the easing of restrictions will be successful and the efforts and sacrifices of so many are rewarded,” he said. 

Change in layout

Speaking to reporters today at the launch of Dublin City Council’s reopening of the city campaign, Superintendent Thomas Murphy urged care uses, cyclists and pedestrians to be cautious when moving about Dublin next week.

“For drivers coming back into city who haven’t been back in in a couple of months, I would ask them to familiarise themselves with the change of layout, which has been put in place by the local authority to provide additional space for the public with wider footpaths and extra cycle lane.

“Some of the on-street parking has been removed to provide that extra assurance for the public. For the pedestrians, check twice if you are crossing the road again, and the drivers of cars and other vehicles, their speed is a huge factor.

“Some people haven’t been driving for a couple of months, and they need to just slowly adapt to being back in the car again and back on the road,” he said.

With reporting by Christina Finn 

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