Passengers 'may have to switch buses but journey times will fall'
Some direct bus services to the city centre could be scrapped under plans to introduce high-frequency corridors across the capital.
Passengers could be forced to change from one bus to another under proposals from the National Transport Authority (NTA) to improve services for 400,000 daily commuters, which although less convenient would result in faster trips.
If implemented, services would be provided every three to six minutes on high-frequency corridors across the city, with local services to specific destinations every 15 minutes.
US transport consultant Jarrett Walker, who is working with the NTA, said passenger numbers would grow if high frequency corridors with fast, reliable and connected services, were developed. The "pay-offs" for increased frequencies were "high".
"People are attracted to Luas because it's one or two lines and you know what to do. It's impossible to do this with buses," he said. "The big question is can we ask people to change buses more if you produce a network which is more frequent and gets you to where you want to go quicker?"
The NTA has launched a public consultation, called the Dublin Area Bus Network Redesign Choices Report, stressing that no decisions have been made. Submissions can be made at busconnects.ie.
The proposal outlines how main radial bus corridors through the city centre would be consolidated and run between fixed terminuses, for example Dublin Airport to Rathgar, Crumlin to Artane or Lucan to Ringsend. Different routes would use the corridors, but branch out to serve local areas after reaching the terminus.
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Suburban feeder routes could also be developed. These include Dunboyne to Blanchardstown, where instead of one bus service operating from Dunboyne to Blanchardstown and another to the city centre, commuters would all travel to Blanchardstown and then switch to a high-frequency corridor to the city centre.
In other cases, orbital routes would be developed - such as from Dundrum to Tallaght - to improve connectivity between the high-frequency corridors and local areas.
Examples of service improvements include the journey from Harold's Cross to Drumcondra. There is currently a direct bus service, and the trip takes 40 minutes. This would fall to 38 minutes, even after passengers switched buses. Others include Donnybrook to Heuston Station, down from 30 to 29 minutes, and Lucan to UCD which would fall to 49 minutes from 56 minutes 30 seconds.
The plan, which is part of the Bus Connects project, could be implemented from late 2018, and is not dependent on capital funding to improve bus corridors. Advantages include shorter waiting times at stops due to higher frequency of services. The network would be simpler and easier to navigate, and more routes would be accessible.
The disadvantages include interrupted journeys and the requirement to complete "short walks" at interchanges, but the NTA said real-time passenger information and shelters would be provided. Work was also under way on restructuring fares to ensure it would cost no more to interchange.