Wednesday 19 September 2018

Rubber wheels trump steel ones in eyes of the travelling public

With Dublin in line for a revolution on the buses, perhaps it's time that MetroLink was buried

An artist’s impression of how a MetroLink entrance in Dublin would look
An artist’s impression of how a MetroLink entrance in Dublin would look
Colm McCarthy

Colm McCarthy

Despite the enormous investment in Luas and Dart services in Dublin over recent decades, the most popular form of public transport in the city is the bus system. The two State-owned operators, Dublin Bus and the suburban services of Bus Eireann, carried twice as many passengers in 2017 as did the Luas and Dart services combined.

There are several private operators of city bus services as well, notably Aircoach and Swords Express. When these are added, buses carry almost three times the number of passengers travelling by rail or tram in the capital. Cork is the only other Irish city with a suburban rail service, but the bus share in Cork is over 90pc.

These high market shares reflect the geographic reality of Irish cities. Sprawling, low-density urban areas offer an unpromising market for fixed-line public transport, which cannot reach a substantial portion of potential users without inordinate capital and operating cost. The buses reach the entire market and their routings are flexible. Many of them operate without subsidy and they can offer high frequency on the busiest alignments.

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