Enough Dublin Bus vehicles for demand Monday 26th January 2009
Dublin Bus has enough buses in its fleet to meet demand from passengers even with the loss of a number of services through cutbacks, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey insisted today.
Publishing a report on the cost and efficiency of bus services, Mr Dempsey said since 2000 the capacity of the Dublin Bus fleet had grown by more than 35 per cent.
"Even allowing for a 10 per cent cut if you were talking in terms of that, there's more than adequate capacity in the system," he said.
The Deloite report, which was commissioned in mid-2008 before cutbacks were announced at both Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann, concludes that the Dublin Bus network is "overly complex with a significant amount of service duplication."
It recommends the network be radically reformed to simplify it and to make it easier to use. The report calls for timetable changes, additional direct routes for the city, and elimination of out-of-service buses and routes that end at depots.
It notes although demand patterns have changed dramatically as the city has expanded, the network has not been restructured to meet such changes.
The report supports the setting up of a "bus gate" at College Green, a reduction in "bunching" of buses on routes and real-time information for passengers as provided at Luas stops. It also calls for on-street ticket vending machines and a push to encourage passengers to transfer to pre-paid smart cards to reduce handling costs and the amount of time commuters spend boarding buses.
Dublin Bus employs about 3,500 staff and operates a fleet of 950 buses on 140 routes in the capital. It carries about 500,000 passengers a day.
Mr Dempsey said the Deloitte report shows that Dublin Bus does not need more buses but needs to use its current fleet more efficiently.
"The basic problem is that despite efforts, the network hasn't fundamentally changed over decades . . . you have a whole system of bus numbers which are completely complex and a lot of the services aren't operating across the city and are not going to the place where people are working or living," he said.
The Minister added it was "inevitable" that congestion charges would be introduced in the future to reduce traffic levels in major cites but said that this could not happen until bus services had improved.
The CIÉ group of companies - which includes Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann - is projected to have a deficit of more than €80 million this year.
Dublin Bus recently announced plans to make 290 staff redundant and reduce its fleet by 120 buses, while Bus Éireann said it intends to make 322 of its 2,700 staff redundant and remove 150 buses from its 1,300-strong fleet.
The Deloitte report concluded that the Bus Éireann network service was efficient and it identified no potential scope to achieve major service without reducing services.
Fine Gael transport spokesman Fergus O'Dowd said Mr Dempsey's proposals don't go far enough to ensure that the needs of bus passengers are protected and it called for the opening up routes to private operators to safeguard services for commuters.
Separately, the Labour Party said that many of the problems flagged in the Deloite report were due to the failure of the Government and local authorities to enhance the public transport system, rather than the fault of Dublin Bus or Bus Éireann