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Sunday 17 November 2019

Extra bus connects 'spine' route after commuters' anger

It is believed Bus Connects has reduced the number of routes on which people would have to change to a second bus, but this remains to be seen when today's revised plans are unveiled. Stock photo: Caroline Quinn/PA Wire
It is believed Bus Connects has reduced the number of routes on which people would have to change to a second bus, but this remains to be seen when today's revised plans are unveiled. Stock photo: Caroline Quinn/PA Wire

Changes to the controversial Bus Connects plans include adding an extra major route, known as a spine, which will bring passengers from Howth and Portmarnock to the city centre, the Herald can reveal.

Today the National Transport Authority (NTA), which is behind the Bus Connects project, will announce its revised plans for the route redesign.

The revised scheme is an effort to introduce a series of Bus Spines, on which there will be a high frequency of buses leading from the suburbs to the city centre.

Through Bus Connects, it is planned that a person at a bus stop along a spine would wait between three and eight minutes for the next double decker to arrive, with the higher frequency at peak times.

Other buses will connect communities to the Bus Spines, and a series of orbital bus routes are to be introduced for passengers trying to reach key destinations like universities and hospitals without first having to travel into the city centre.

Access to Beaumont Hospital was a concern for many bus users Photo: Tony Gavin
Access to Beaumont Hospital was a concern for many bus users Photo: Tony Gavin

Confident

The plan will now go out to public consultation once more, but the NTA is believed to be confident that the revised plans today will address the concerns of many commuters.

Apart from changing the bus numbers and some routes - which have become familiar over the years - another controversial move in the plan was that some passengers would have to take two buses to the city where they might now take one.

This was to have involved swapping buses at different interchanges on the spines.

It is believed Bus Connects has reduced the number of routes on which people would have to change to a second bus, but this remains to be seen when today's revised plans are unveiled.

The Herald understands that an extra Bus Spine has been added to the route map.

Where previously there were seven spines labelled A-G, there is now an H Spine proposed which will come in to the city from Howth and Portmarnock through Raheny.

Every household in Dublin is to receive a detailed information leaflet and access to an interactive online route mapper to help them understand the new bus routes and numbers being proposed in the Bus Connects plan.

From today, a drive to make the ambitious redesign of the entire bus network in the capital more understandable will be rolled out, the Herald understands.

The move is to try and clarify the many issues raised in more than 50,000 submissions made by members of the public to the original plan which was launched last year.

It is believed many of the submissions were made out of confusion about the plan, which will renumber our bus routes.

The main issues that people were concerned about were a possible reduction or loss in their existing bus service; the possibility of having to switch from one bus to another; the impact on the elderly or disabled, and access to schools and colleges.

Having to walk a longer distance to access a bus was also a concern for many.

It is believed that Bus Connects plans to increase the frequency of buses on the 33 and 33X routes, with a dedicated commuter express route to the city centre and UCD.

Access to Beaumont Hospital was also a concern for many bus users, and today's proposals are expected to announce five direct services to the hospital site, with two of them by Bus Spine, and others as orbital routes.

Confusion

It is also expected that Bus Connects will be rolled out on a phased basis over three years, starting next year, so it will not cause too much confusion to commuters.

To make it easier for commuters to figure out the revised system, each household will receive an information leaflet and map giving them information on local routes, peak time routes, orbital routes and spine routes in their area, and how they all connect.

It will also give information on how to access a Route Mapper on the Bus Connects website which will allow passengers to type in an address and a destination and then see a detailed map of their travel options, including where there are changes if necessary.

The Herald understands that a lot of submissions made by the public related to only around 15pc of the routes, and there were hotspots where there was more anger than in other areas.

These included the 33 and 33X service from Balbriggan and Skerries through Rush and Lusk to the city centre.

Plans that affected the No 4 from Monkstown, as well as the 42 and 142 from Portmarnock, the 27 from Clare Hall, the 14 from Beaumont, the 70 from Dunboyne, the 7 from Loughlinstown and the 15A from Greenhills, also attracted many submissions from the public.

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