Issues with reliability and punctuality on local bus routes are causing a major headache for commuters using the L51 & L52 bus services, a local TD has said. Deputy Emer Higgins, TD for Dublin Mid West was speaking, following continued engagement with the National Transport Authority to highlight major issues with reliability on local routes. Deputy Higgins said: “Since the reconfiguration of local bus routes and the move to Go Ahead for some services, I have certainly noticed an increase in complaints around the reliability and punctuality of some routes, particularly the L51 and L52 routes which provide a service from Adamstown Station via Dodsboro to Lucan Village and on to either Liffey Valley (L51) or Blanchardstown (L52).
“Unfortunately, local commuters are reporting to me that buses are not arriving on time or being cancelled all together, leaving commuters stuck with no alternative way to get to work, school or appointments on time. “Local people looking to use the routes to get home in the evenings after being in their local pub or maybe socialising with friends or family are also now increasingly finding that the last bus of the evening is not turning up and this can have a very isolating impact on people, particularly older people who are just choosing not to go out in the evening for fear they won’t have any way of getting home.
“Locals will know that these services were introduced as part of the new Bus Connects rollout and the issues with punctuality and reliability just fuel the anger of those already dissatisfied with the changes in the first place, particularly the older population who have been disadvantaged by the loss of the 25 bus route. “I raised this issue with the NTA and I was informed that the L51 has a recent punctuality rate of 80.4% while the L52 has a punctuality rate of 69.8% and the target for bus operators to meet is 80% so this certainly shows that the L52 has a particular issue with turning up on time while the L51 is just making the grade,” Deputy Higgins added.
“Perhaps more concerning is the level of reliability or cancellations on these routes which is measured as a percentage of scheduled kilometres against the kilometres actually travelled by the buses and for both the L51 and L52 they are falling short in this regard. “Bus operators should lose a maximum of 2% of kilometres on their routes but in the first quarter of 2022, the L51 lost 5.9% of kilometres on the route while the L52 lost 7.8%,” said Deputy Higgins.
“For the first six months of the year, Dublin Bus were fined €1.5m by the NTA for cancellations and delays and Go-Ahead were fined €1.17m. Comparatively, Dublin Bus operate 119 routes, while Go Ahead has 30, so it would appear that Go Ahead is experiencing sizable issues with delays and cancellations considering the smaller number of routes they operate in Dublin. “As with a lot of industries, bus operators are experiencing significant challenges in recruiting qualified staff in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the NTA tell me that they are in regular contact with Go Ahead, who are making every attempt to recruit more drivers so that all services can run as scheduled.
“They have undertaken extensive driver recruitment campaigns in recent months and significant numbers of additional drivers are expected to become available once their required training and tests are complete and licences are issued by the Road Safety Authority, a process which the NTA are doing their best to expedite. “These delays and cancellations are a massive headache for commuters and I will be continuing to raise the issue with the NTA until it is addressed,” concluded Deputy Higgins.