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A rapid bus system in operation in Los Angeles Downtowngal via Wikimedia Commons

New 'Luas on rubber wheels' could cut commute times by almost 40 per cent

Three special ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ routes could be built at a cost of up to €650 million. It’s planned the first will be between the city centre and Swords.

A NEW RAPID transit bus system could reduce commute times from outer Dublin suburbs to the city centre by up to 40 per cent, according to initial plans from the National Transport Authority.

Three ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ routes are being proposed for the city — one from Swords, via the Airport, to the city centre; a second from Blanchardstown to UCD and a third from Clongriffin to Tallaght.

If implemented, the new route from Swords would take 35 minutes via the new service — the same journey today takes around 56 minutes, depending on traffic.

Described by one councillor as a sort-of “Luas on rubber wheels” — the system would see single-decker buses proceed between raised-platform stations along new bus corridors. The vehicles would receive signal priority at junctions.

A public consultation on the ‘Swiftway’ system gets under way later this month. It’s estimated the three routes could cost between €500 million and €650 million.

Here’s the broad outline of the three proposed routes (highlighted in blue, green and pink) which the NTA stresses are “indicative only”:

imageAnd here’s how they would intersect in the city centre:


According to the National Transport Authority: “Bus Rapid Transit occupies part of the transport capacity spectrum between conventional bus and light rail.”

“Stops will be similar to Luas stops and will have shelter (where space permits), seating, ticket machines and real time information.”

If implemented, the new system could carry up to 3,600 passengers in each direction per hour. There would be a high level of separation from normal traffic, and the frequency could be anything up to two minutes.

It’s proposed that 18-metre, 125-person capacity buses be used, and that they would be “single deck articulated vehicles that are modern, clean, comfortable, accessible and safe”.

Here’s the NTA’s first draft of what they might look like:


[Images: National Transport Authority]

The consultation process will focus on choosing the preferred corridors for each scheme from several proposed. More details will be released online later this month, and there’ll be information on display at UCD, as well as various Dublin council offices.

The NTA plans to make an application to An Bord Pleanála for the Swords route  later this year, and hopes to have approval in the first half of 2015.

However the authority notes that “construction of the schemes will be dependent on funding availability”.

Similar bus transit schemes have been introduced in over 150 cities worldwide, including Amsterdam, Paris, Cape Town and Sydney.

Chairman of Dublin City Council’s Transport  Committee Andrew Montague has welcomed the plans.

“I’m particularly pleased that Swiftway will start on the Northside of the city. This will be great for residents of Santry, Whitehall and Drumcondra who will be able to travel to the city centre or to the airport with a more reliable, more comfortable and faster service,” the councillor said.

He said the new ‘rubber-wheel Luas’ would be “fast, reliable and comfortable” as well as “cheap to install because no rail tracks will be laid down”.

The NTA is due to brief Dublin City Council members on the plans this week, having met with Fingal councillors last week. The other two local authorities in the county will also receive detailed briefings from authority officials.

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