Bus companies say services are improving as staff are coming on boardGary Ibbotson 15 Feb 2023
Dublin bus companies have claimed that their services have improved in recent months following heavy criticism from commuters and politicians regarding inconsistencies and delays on several routes.
Last year, Dublin Bus and Go-Ahead Ireland were fined by the National Transport Authority (NTA) for a high number of delays and non-running buses across the county.
Bus executives blamed the problems with the service on the lack of drivers after experiencing a large number of staff resignations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In November, heads of Dublin Bus and Go-Ahead Ireland told the Oireachtas Transport Committee that staff numbers would only return normal levels at the end of March.
They said they were struggling to hire bus drivers in the current employment market.
However, in separate letters to Dublin City Council both firms said their services had improved in recent months and are experiencing less delays and route cancellations.
Billy Hann, chief executive of Dublin Bus said that there has been a “very significant focus in recent months on the performance of public transport and some strong criticism of recent service delivery by Dublin Bus and other public transport operators.”
Hann said that the “vast majority of our services operate on time and on schedule.”
He also said that the “network expansion” and introduction of new routes “placed significant pressure on the company as we seek to deliver additional services and also provide our network of contracted services.”
Hann said that he was “confident that improvements seen in recent months can be maintained as we continue our work in 2023.”
In her letter, operations manager at Go-Ahead Ireland, Niamh Swords said the timetable of staff rejuvenation was still on track for the end of March.
She said that the company is “currently running an extensive recruitment campaign.
“As a result of this we have a very strong pipeline of drivers planned to enter service on a weekly basis over the next number of months.
“We have also implemented programmes designed to improve and support our retention of colleagues, including incentive payments for drivers who stay with us until the end of March 2023.”
Swords also said that Go-Ahead has seen “an improvement in the services operated.
“As we have seen the level of driver colleagues increase and service levels improve, we have confirmed a change of timetables from Sunday 12th February 2023, this change will see a return to a Monday-Friday timetables.”
The timetable change will increase departures “in comparison to the reduced services we have been operating across certain routes,” Swords says.
Independent councillor Noeleen Reilly, who tabled the motion calling for a response from the bus companies, told Northside People that although the services “have been a bit better” in recent weeks, she is still receiving complaints from commuters.
“It’s happening often where people are missing buses or are being left behind because they are too full,” she says.
“I know the companies are hiring in a challenging environment but I think the existing routes should be a priority.
“They need to revise the Bus Connects.
“There are problems with the existing routes already with the lack of staff, I don’t know how they are going to be able to deal with the additional routes,” she says.