Why is BusConnects removing bus stops?

Comment & Analysis: Fix the public transport, everybody will agree. But the rationalisation of bus stops is a prime example problem of how hard that task can be. How can it be possible to improve public transport by removing bus stops?

As mentioned in a previous article, the international best practice spacing between bus stops is around 400m, with some stops closer for various reasons., The ~400m is for local stopping services, the type of services that serve most of Dublin City, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford etc.

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The typical distances for express services or rapid transit buses are up to twice as long. The distance of ~400m is for local city buses.

Transport consultant Jarrett Walker has an excellent blog post on the issue of spacing and a solid follow-up on the ethical issues of moving stops further apart (ie for people with disabilities etc). Both are worth reading.

Where stop spacing is too long, it’s going to have an impact on some passengers, but where bus stop spacing is too short, it’s going to impact all passengers, including those with disabilities or older people.

The time savings to be gained are substantial, and the benefits include helping people who could be able to rely on a bus more if they didn’t need to be on it for so long.

The image below shows the bus stop spacing along Howth Road (inbound) and between Parnell Square West and Ballymun Road up near Ikea (outbound). To be clear, you’d expect a mix of colours representing spacing types, but far more of these lines should be green.

Different routes vary how far bus stops are apart, but these two examples show how far these routes are away from using the ~400m measures (shown in green).

Most stops have a gap of ~200-260m (shown in red) or around ~300m (orange), with a few stop spacing under 200m and a few others around ~500m.

I have years of experience on the Ballymun Road route. While I usually wouldn’t take buses on the Howth Road, I made a mistake last year of not switching to the Dart after getting a bus down from Howth Hill — that was some mistake.

To be honest, after hiking around the Howth Head with children, I was looking at my phone and didn’t notice it too much at first, but my tired-out children, whose Nintendo Switches were dead, were asking why the journey was taking so long. Then we collectively started to notice how often the bus was stopping at nearly every stop.

There were loads of times along the route where we were stopped at one stop and could see the passengers at the next stop with their arms out already calling the bus:

For various reasons, the rationalisation of bus stops can go wrong, too. For example, on the Clontarf to City Centre project, the gap was too large between some stops, and this website (and others) asked if stops could be restored, and that is now going to happen.

So, of course, rationalisation is not simple and can have impacts. But making on-the-ground improvements to public transport is unlikely to keep everybody happy.

Bus stop rationalisation is explained better in this RM Transit video:

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  1. I have used the bus about 6 times in the two years since they took the North Strand bus stops away. I drive or get a taxi instead. They ignore any queries about when they are reinstating them.

  2. On the rare occasion we get a bus into Dublin city centre, my mind is blown away with how many stops there are. It seems like the bus barely starts moving off before it is stopping at the next one, or the next traffic light. As you say, often can see the next stop ahead.
    I can recall when commuting to college in the city, that I regularly walked “back” two stops to improve my chances of getting a seat – because the stops were so close. Similarly, getting off couple of stops early was a regular as it was quicker to walk the distance due to traffic, including blocks of buses themselves causing the congestion on e.g. Leeson Street, Rathmines Rd etc.
    So yeah, having to walk a bit further to get to a stop may upset a portion of people, while it will delay all of us if there are too many stops.
    I used to really like the UK approach of having “express” stops where the buses stopped every 6th stop only. Those that wanted to could walk to those, or wait for the regular buses. Think they had a red background to the bus number.


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