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Thursday 20 September 2018

Major Dublin bus changes revealed: 'Super frequent' routes, services renumbered, and a new two-fare system

Radical redesign will impact on every bus route in the capital

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Paul Melia

Paul Melia

MAJOR changes to the Dublin bus network will see services re-numbered, creation of seven 'super frequent' routes and a move to a new two-fare system.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) says the changes will result in more people being able to access frequent services, but it will represent a “huge change” for passengers.

Under the proposals, the level of bus service across the city will increase by 27pc, and 11 brand new orbital routes which will operate every 15 minutes or more will be introduced.

The main changes are:

* Services to be arranged along seven cross-city super-frequent spines, with an increase in the numbers of orbital services.

* There will be an Increase in the number of all-day high-frequency services.

* A new route numbering system will be introduced, with ‘spines’, or high frequency routes, signified  by the letters ‘A’ to ‘G’, followed by a digit. The letter signifies the spine, and the digit the specific branch.

* The 11 new orbital routes will operate on a 15-minute frequency, or better.

The NTA said there will be a two-tier fare structure – one will cover short journeys, while a second 90-minute fare is proposed where a customer can use any public transport system (bus, Dart or Luas) for a journey, subject to the last leg commencing within 90 minutes of the start of the overall trip.

Some passengers may be forced to change buses to access their destination, but the NTA said the benefits would be faster, more reliable journeys.

“The number of people living within 400m of a bus service that operates every 10 minutes or better, will increase by 35pc from 480,000 to 650,000,” it said.

“The number of people living within 400m of a bus service that operates every 15 minutes or better, will increase by31pc from 765,000 to almost one million.

“The number of jobs or college places situated within 400m of a bus service operating every 10 minutes or better will increase by 18pc from 540,000 to 640,000.”

Services will be organised on the basis of six categories: spines; spine branches; orbitals; other radials; locals; and peak-only services.  The route numbering system will reflect these categories. “Spines, for example, are designated by the letters A to G, which separate into branches further out from the city,” the NTA said.

“Each bus on a spine service would be designated by a letter followed by a digit, for example A1, where the letter indicates the spine, and the digit indicates the specific branch.”

Public consultation gets underway on July 16, and will run until September 14.

The redesign is proposed because the network and fare structure is considered to be overly complex. The NTA wants to make it easier to use, and more attractive to passengers.

Anne Graham, the head of the NTA, said the overhaul of routes would simplify the service for passengers and would also see the introduction of “super high frequency routes” in some parts.

Speaking to RTE Radio One, Ms Graham said, “we’re talking about a radical change to the bus network right across the Dublin Region… talking about trying to simplify the network first of all because it is quite hard to understand”.

She added, “if you were to try and explain to a tourist how to get from one part of the city to the other it can be difficult”.

Plans which are expected to be in place by the end of 2019 would include an ‘orbital route’ around the North Circular Road and the South Circular Road with a travel time of 15 minutes or better.

An additional “seven super high frequency spines” would run every 5 minutes or better to improve travel times for network.

The compromise for some passengers is an increase in the number of interchanges or connections required to implement this plan.

Ms Graham said, “for some of the routes we currently have they have a very low frequency.; some are every 60 minutes and an example would be Dunboyne”.

She said a more frequent connecting service would be “overall an awful lot shorter”.

“We tested this already last year. We carried out a survey and got 12,000 responses which asked if you are prepared to change more often to increase the services available.”

The response to the survey, according to Ms Graham, indicated that 80% of participants would be happy to take a connecting bus if it meant a higher frequency of services.

Dublin Bus chief executive Ray Coyne, said the redesign represented a “huge change” for everyone in the city, and that it looked forward to hearing what members of the public thought of the proposals.

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