‘I often opt for the one hour walk, as I get fed up watching full buses pass’: More tales from public transport

From ghost buses, full buses to slow trains or trains not starting early enough: Irish Times readers on their experiences of public transport

We asked readers to tell us their experiences of public transport in Ireland, and their thoughts on how it could be improved. The response was overwhelming, and so many answers came in that we have collated a second set of readers’ submissions. Your first set of responses can be read here.

They range from Dublin commuters annoyed by full buses and ghost buses to rural commuters frustrated by a lack of connecting transport or trains not starting early enough to make work.

The callout was in response to a report by environmental campaign group Greenpeace, which ranked Dublin the worst for public transport among 30 European capital cities last week based on affordability and simplicity for users in purchasing tickets.

Multiple full buses just gliding past my stop

I have been living and working in Dublin for years and have always used the bus to get into town for work. My location is just outside the city and I would expect to be able to get a bus at 8am to get to Harcourt St, however not enough 16 buses run at peak times in the morning. It’s a nightmare with multiple full buses just gliding past my stop in the morning. You can’t rely on getting one unless you are there at 7am or wait until 8.30am. This means either I have to be in work an hour and a half early or arrive 15 minutes after 9am. It really shouldn’t be that hard to get a bus from a key commuter stop in the morning for work. Clearly more buses are needed at peak times - it’s not that hard to fix this. Cathal Quirke


I’ve realised it’s better to walk 6km from the city centre home than get the bus

I came to this country in 2017 and I was amazed with the transport system and as a newbie in the town, I felt everything is great with the transport system as Dublin has Dart, train, bus, taxi etc. Over time, I realised it’s better to walk to my home (6km away) from city centre because the frequency of bus is low or its overcrowded. The most annoying thing happened to me is the display says bus is due in 15 mins and the countdown will reach till zero min and the bus never appears and I had to wait for next bus. So in the last five years, I started walking a lot instead of public bus. I stopped using Dart and got a car for my family as the charges are way too expensive for a family than using a car which gives flexibility and with own comfort. Ven P, Co Dublin

Dublin is a 90 minute city ... Vienna is a 20 minute city

Dublin is a 90 minute city ... Vienna is a 20 minute city, meaning you can get from A to B reliably by public transport within 20 minutes. Here, if you’re not moving on public transport at least 90 minutes before you need to be somewhere, you’re going to be late! Years and years of false promises about having an integrated Metro, and nothing. Delays, excuses, new plans, endless consultants reports and time wasting, that’s all we’re good at. I do welcome the fare reduction, but it needs to be permanent. Noel Wilson, Co Dublin

The buses do not start on time for most of us

I begin work at 7am in the Mater hospital, Dublin, along with a small army of colleagues. The buses do not start on time for most of us. Parking at the hospital costs €15 every day - that’s €300 a month. There is no tax relief on this nor subsidy. It’s a huge cost on top of Dublin rent and cost of living. Australia calls louder. Jackie Burke, Co Dublin

‘No city should be more than 90 minutes from Dublin by train’

I use the main intercity Cork-Dublin service. It is a 250km journey that takes 2.5 to 3 hours (same as a car journey). The train travels between 90-110km/hour. Some places it does 160km (I have a speedometer app on my phone). These trains are capable of doing 200km/hour. If the line was upgraded to do Dublin to Cork in 90 minutes it would be transformational.

Another pet peeve is that the first Dublin train to arrive into Cork city arrives at 9.35am. Surely trains have to reach our cities at 8am. The Limerick to Waterford line could be a great public service if it ran at appropriate times and was a little faster. It runs in the middle of the day and doesn’t align with working/colleges commuting start/finishing times.

Investing in rail speed would make Dublin a suburb of every other city. No city should be more than 90 minutes from Dublin by train. There is no reason not to make that reality and doesn’t require TGVs or second tier trains systems. It would be an investment in the future. Carlo Webster, Cork city

The ghost bus situation needs to be addressed

The ghost bus situation needs to be addressed: I am on the 123 route and I cannot count the number of times a bus is showing as due in the real time information board just to disappear few seconds after with the following bus then due in 30 minutes or more. Julien Boyer, Co Dublin

We have a public transport system on a par with a developing country

I have been living in Madrid for the past 6 months but I’m originally from Dublin, the contrast in public transport systems is unbelievable. There’s very rarely an occasion where I’m waiting more than 10 minutes for either a bus, train or metro to come here. More importantly the cost for unlimited use of the public transport a month here for me is €8 as I’m under 26, it used to cost me more than €12 a DAY to travel to University in Dublin. Take into consideration how inconsistent the schedule of public transport is in Dublin especially buses, very regularly not even showing up. Never mind the fact that there’s no metro in Dublin and the Dart doesn’t even extend to the whole of Dublin, there is no Dart line in Balbriggan where I’m from. For a country that’s supposed to be relatively wealthy we have a public transport system on a par with a developing country, and we have to pay huge prices for these terrible services! Conor Power, Madrid

I often opt for the one hour walk, as I get fed up watching full buses pass

I live in an area of Dublin which is served by ample buses (five bus lines within seven minute walking distance) if you want to do an into town journey. The biggest issue I face is coming home from work where I will regularly see three or four buses pass me full, not taking passengers. And this is where I have multiple bus lines available to me! On more than one occasion I have opted to start the one hour walk home as I get fed up watching full buses pass me. Those who live further out than I do don’t get that option. I’ve toyed with cycling for a long time but am nervous of having to share my road space with vehicles.

I have lived in Brussels, Paris, Copenhagen, London and there 85 per cent of my journeys were by public transport, hopping on/off multiple forms of transport. Dublin is far below them in terms of offering - and Copenhagen is a similarly sized city that has built two metro lines in the last 20 years. Yet we finally get a Luas connection after a decade that requires crossing roads and turning corners. Sarah, Co Dublin

Cork to Dublin: I am increasingly frustrated by the unnecessary difficulty of the trek

I commute to Dublin from Cork regularly for work. The first Cork to Dublin train is at 6.15am and will get you in for sometime between 8.30am and 8.45am depending on the driver on any given day and which way the wind is blowing. If it arrives in on or after 8.40am I miss my connecting bus. Mostly I miss my connecting bus. There is an an earlier train to Dublin that departs at 5.45am but although it leaves half hour earlier than the 6.15 departing train it invariably reaches Dublin at the same time as the second train, go figure.

There are no Cork city bus options for me (from my city centre address) to get to Cork Kent train station in order to reach the 6.15am train to Dublin and so I have to rely on taxis for this leg.

Every day that I commute from Cork to Dublin and back I am increasingly frustrated by the unnecessary difficulty of the trek that seems engineered almost purposely to keep the country cousins locked out of Dublin. An inexcusable short-sightedness particularly in the context of a critical housing crisis in our capital. With a bit of imagination and some basic transport planning Cork could be the next Dublin satellite suburb.

In better news, I see that after its three year hiatus, one can finally purchase water on the train again ... I suppose my fellow commuters and I should be grateful for what we can get. Name withheld

Decisions take forever to be made and even longer to be implemented

I’m constantly amazed by the lack of ambition of transport planners and their political masters in Ireland. Why are we still printing train tickets in ticket machines, and why can’t we pay a bus fare with a debit card? This must be the last country in the developed world to introduce simple innovations like these. Decisions take forever to be made and even longer to be implemented. Train to Dublin Airport is a no-brainer, most large European airports like Dublin are connected by rail, it should have been done 30 years ago. With a Green Party transport minister you’d think improved public transport would be a priority in deeds and not just in promises. Jonathan Murphy, Co Wexford

Maynooth: Public transport journey time does not compete with a car

Maynooth is well served in terms of the range of services available. What is letting Maynooth’s public transport offering down is that the journey time does not compete with the journey time in a private car. From my house in Maynooth to my office in Dublin 2, the journey time is an hour and a half on any type of public transport but only 30 minutes in a car if you travel outside peak times. There doesn’t seem to be a plan to improve journey time going forward. The rollout of Dart West will double the capacity on the Maynooth line but there is no plan for this increased capacity to reduce journey time. Bus Connects was rolled out on the C spine serving Maynooth in November 2021. The M4 motorway, which allows car journeys to be so much quicker than public transport, isn’t used by Dublin Bus until after leixlip (express services) or Lucan (for the standard routes). Instead the main routes to the city centre use local roads as they also serve main transport link between the local areas of Maynooth, Leixlip, Celbridge and Lucan, which adds to the journey time. Until journey time is competitive with the time you can achieve in a car on the motorway, it’s difficult to see that public transport will convince people to leave their cars at home. Name withheld, Maynooth

Good public transport system takes decades plan and build

I live close to Roscrea, Co Tipperay, near the M7/N7 road and the main Dublin/Cork/Limerick train line. You would think that I would be spoiled for transport options. I travel to Dublin airport at least once a month. Ninety per cent of the time I have to drive as there are no suitable bus or train options to get there.”

“We have a long long way to go before our public transport is considered fit for purpose and that’s on the main intercity routes, never mind the local routes. A good public transport system is not put in place in a year or two. It takes decades to plan and build, yet Eamon Ryan seems to think this will happen in the next six years by which time diesel and petrol engine cars will be banned from sale. He’s dreaming. Brian Hall, Co Offaly.

The early train going south from Thurles leaves at the same time in 2023 as it did in 1994

I live near Thurles in Co Tipperary on the main Dublin to Cork train line. It certainly could be said that Thurles is well served by public transport. On any weekday morning the busy northbound trains take commuters to Dublin, with trains departing as early as 6.15am. The problem is going in the other direction.

If you want to commute by train to anywhere to the south of the country, Limerick or Cork in my case, the first train departs at 8.15am, only arriving in Cork at 9.37am. This is too late.

The early train going south from Thurles leaves at the same time in 2023 as it did in 1994. This is hard to fathom, given all the talk on sustainability and reducing our carbon emissions. If there was a 7am train, I’d be on it, as would many others.

Government talks on improving public transport need to look beyond the major urban centres, and need to look to train scheduling serving Limerick and Cork. Not only will this make rail commuting more viable for so many, but it will also broaden the accommodation options for those working in the cities, and reinvigorate our rural towns. If public transport were made free and the Government poured money into rolling infrastructure, leading to more early trains, we would go a long way towards meeting our climate objectives. But get the early trains first, we can talk about pricing another time. Name withheld, Co Tipperary