New orbital bus routes have started operating in Dublin today, but only after a week of a last-minute push of opposition to the bus route changes.
According to the National Transport Authority, “the new routes S2, S4, S6, S8, W2, L25, L55 and 74 will replace routes 17, 18, 61, 75/a, 76/a and 175”, while “other bus services in these areas will continue to operate as normal.” Details of the new routes can be found at transportforireland.ie.
The changes involved in the latest new routes — like with all of BusConnects — include some people who will be discommoded to allow for an overall improved bus network. The route network changes come ahead of the main infrastructure plans, but smaller infrastructure changes have been made for the new orbital routes.
Some people who had direct routes might now need to switch buses. But people’s faith in the bus system’s capacity to allow for interchanges was compounded by the misinformation — this is on top of existing issues with buses being cancelled due to a lack of drivers, unreliable real-time information and complaints about Transport for Ireland’s journey planner after the Dublin Bus version was shut down.
The Irish Independent yesterday reported the details in a “he-said, she-said” style of journalism when the newspaper could have been verified using Transport for Ireland’s journey planner which is freely available online. If they had checked it, their main example would have fallen apart.
In some cases, it’s been claimed that people will lose direct buses when they won’t or that people will need to take three rather than two buses when that’s not the case.
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Tweeting a screenshot of an Irish Independent article on the changes, Dublin Commuter Coalition, a group which campaigns for better public transport, said: “This is false. From stop 4887 in the video to IADT is still two buses as before but is now 25 minutes quicker. People are being misled to oppose huge improvements to their lives.”
Dublin Commuter Coalition and others have been active on social media this week trying to counter some of the misinformation around the changes.
Cllr Oisín O’Connor (Green Party) who represents Glencullen-Sandyford on Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said that the leaflets sent by the NTA have not reached everybody in the catchment area of the new bus routes.
Cllr O’Connor said: “The new BusConnects routes introduced today will overall be a positive for people taking public transport across the city, once people are used to the new stops and routes to get to their destinations. Unfortunately, what hasn’t been helping is members of the media and public representatives trying to cause panic among people, whether it’s for votes or clicks.”
“There’s an onus on us as public reps to be helping people through change. I’m very surprised to see some public representatives not sharing any information with constituents at all. The NTA also had a comms plan which hasn’t worked as many residents haven’t received the information brochure in advance of the routes launching and some only receiving it a couple of days beforehand,” he said.
Cllr O’Connor added: “The biggest thing that needs to be communicated is around the idea of interchanging buses. The NTA needs to be communicating that some of the 2-bus trips replacing single bus trips are actually faster. There also needs to be a renewed publicity campaign on the 90-minute fare which many people are still unaware of.”
The TFI 90-minute fare allows people to switch from bus to bus or any combination of bus, tram and train within the urban area of Dublin for just €2 on an adult Leap card, €1.00 on student or young adult (19-23) Leap card or just €0.65 on a child Leap card (5-15). Any travel is included in that price once you start your last trip within 90 minutes.
The 90-minute fare includes Dublin Bus (except Express services which cost €2.40), Go-Ahead Ireland services in the Dublin City Bus network, all Luas services; and most Dart and Commuter Rail services (zones 1 to 4 in the Short Hop Zone).
Dermot Hanney, a Dubliner who’s working as a transport planner in London, is another who has been active in highlighting the issues around the new buses on Twitter this week.
Using an example on Google Maps, he said: “It’s clear that S8 + 46A is the best option by far but through unwieldy algorithms the app does its best to convince you otherwise. The 46a runs all day, it’ll always be available for transfer yet only comes up sporadically here [on the Google Maps app].”
While there have been hiccups with information, the National Transport Authority said that it has had staff on the streets of Dublin since Wednesday and they’ll be out and about this coming week too.
Under its Transport for Ireland brand, the NTA said: “Our Brand Ambassadors have been on the street since Wednesday to help with any of your queries surrounding routes S2, S4, S6, S8, W2, L25 and L55. You can find them across numerous locations during peak hours: 7am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm.”
In a press release earlier this week Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority, highlighted how the route would offer more frequent routes without having to travel into the city centre.
She said: “This phase will give people the opportunity to travel on more direct and frequent bus services across southern and western areas of Dublin. Passengers will be able to travel between suburbs without having to travel into the city.”