Shortage of drivers impacting BusConnect services

by Rose Barrett
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Cllr Noeleen Reilly (Ind for Ballymun-Finglas) has been extremely critical of the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) failure to seriously review the implementation of Bus Connects due to a chronic lack of drivers. 

She said: “The number one issue residents in Ballymun and Finglas have contacted me in recent weeks is with regards to buses not showing up or being late in the mornings and evenings. This has meant people are late for work and children late for school – and then they cannot get home.” 

Chair of the Traffic and Transport SPC, Cllr Reilly continued: “The last bus at night-time has been cancelled altogether on regular occasions. This is not acceptable! 

We are trying to encourage everyone to use public transport and leave the car at home but how can they if there is a chance the buses will not show up?” 

Cllr Reilly stated this was affecting both Dublin Bus and Go-ahead which operate several routes in Ballymun and Finglas and that she has been advised the problems relate to a severe shortage of drivers. 

Cllr Noeleen Reilly states the most common issue raised with her now is the failure of buses to turn up!

The NTA responded that “As with many industries, bus operators have been experiencing significant challenges in recruiting qualified staff, following the return to economic activity in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The bus industry has been particularly hard-hit with driver shortages as operators attempt to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity as well as deliver service improvements such as the BusConnects Network Redesign in Dublin.” 

The NTA is in regular contact with bus operators and meets with Go-Ahead Ireland and Dublin Bus on a weekly basis to review performance, and driver recovery plans. 

“Operators 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 (RSA). In addition the Authority has undertaken a national advertising campaign to attract bus drivers to the industry.” 

The Authority apologised profusely to passengers for the inconvenience which has been caused. 

“Operators are forecasting significant improvements in reliability in the coming months, dependent on successful recruitment and retention of critical staff, in particular drivers. 

“Recent discussions with operators have indicated confidence in their ability to deliver Phase 4 of Network Redesign in mid-October. This phase has been given the formal approval to proceed. The launch of Phase 5 of Network Redesign planned for early December will continue to be monitored, and a formal decision on whether to introduce the new services on that date will be made in late October. A similar approach will be adopted for service changes planned in 2023. 

Cllr Reilly concluded: “We need a fully reliable public transport system in Dublin as so many people rely on it. But if we are also genuine about getting people out of the cars and into buses, then we need to make sure they have confidence in what is being delivered and that is not there now. Adding more buses onto to this is only going to put greater pressure on the service.”

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