herald

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Dublin Bus express route passengers on fast track to increased complaints

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Dublin Bus express routes, particularly those serving UCD, attract the highest level of complaints from the company's customers.

Figures published by the National Transport Authority show the company's Xpresso services, notably those which have a terminus at the Belfield campus, were the subject of most complaints from passengers last year.

However, Dublin Bus denied that such complaints are linked specifically to services at UCD but are instead "general complaints on service issues".

A total of 14,646 complaints were made by passengers to Dublin Bus last year - down almost 4pc on 2017 figures.

More than half of all complaints related to "service experience", while a quarter were about "staff issues".

Real time

There were 210 complaints about anti-social behaviour - 1.4pc of the total - while issues about real-time information accounted for less than 1pc of complaints.

The NTA figures show the 25X, which operates between UCD and Lucan, was the subject of 187 complaints per 100,000 passengers in the third quarter of 2018.

This is the highest rate for any single quarter across the Dublin Bus network and almost 17 times the average level of complaints made last year which was 11.1 per 100,000 passengers.

However, it had no complaint rate registered in the other three quarters of last year, with fewer than 10 complaints recorded in each period.

Other routes including the 41X - (UCD-Knocksedan), 39X (Burlington Road-Ongar), 66X (UCD-Maynooth), 67X (UCD-Celbridge) and 84X (Hawkins Street-Kilcoole) had high levels of complaints on a more consistent basis throughout last year.

A Dublin Bus spokesperson pointed out that Xpresso routes carry more daily commuters and are designed for faster, more efficient journeys during morning and evening peak traffic due to fewer stops.

Dublin Bus said the level of complaints needed to be seen in the context that it operated a fleet of 1,000 buses which carried more than 400,000 daily passengers in 2018.

"All complaints and incidents reported to Dublin Bus are taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly as per the Dublin Bus Customer Charter and internal procedures," the spokesperson said.

The company said issues about some services not stopping outside Belfield earlier this year, which had been the subject of complaints from students, were "resolved and restored". Dublin Bus drivers had refused to stop at the UCD campus on late services because of concern about anti-social behaviour.

The normal routes with the highest level of complaints on the Dublin Bus network were the 84 (Blackrock-Newcastle), 25 (Merrion Square-Lucan) and 61 (Eden Quay-Whitechurch).

The number of complaints to Dublin Bus in the first half of 2019 is 5,042 - a decrease of 17pc compared to the corresponding period last year.

Dublin Bus admitted that the reliability of its services was affected during the third quarter of last year due to reduced driver numbers.

The company said it was caused by lower recruitment levels in advance of a transfer of a number of routes to GoAhead.

The British bus company which took over more than 20 routes has also faced criticism in recent weeks over the reliability of its services.

The NTA confirmed that GoAhead is facing fines for failing to adequately deliver services which it blamed on "higher than expected driver resignations".

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