Dublin Bus – serving the community
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Posted: 7 December 2007 | Joe Meagher, Chief Executive, Dublin Bus | No comments yet
Carrying 150 million passengers in 2006, Dublin Bus remains the largest public transport provider in Dublin with 70 per cent of public transport users each morning commuting into the city by bus.
Last year was a particularly successful year for the company in terms of passenger numbers and profits, and despite worsening congestion, passenger numbers increased by almost one million, and revenue by two million Euros on the previous year. These achievements are due to a number of factors, including fleet expansion, accessibility of service, and the provision of a viable alternative to private car use.
Carrying 150 million passengers in 2006, Dublin Bus remains the largest public transport provider in Dublin with 70 per cent of public transport users each morning commuting into the city by bus. Last year was a particularly successful year for the company in terms of passenger numbers and profits, and despite worsening congestion, passenger numbers increased by almost one million, and revenue by two million Euros on the previous year. These achievements are due to a number of factors, including fleet expansion, accessibility of service, and the provision of a viable alternative to private car use.
Carrying 150 million passengers in 2006, Dublin Bus remains the largest public transport provider in Dublin with 70 per cent of public transport users each morning commuting into the city by bus. Last year was a particularly successful year for the company in terms of passenger numbers and profits, and despite worsening congestion, passenger numbers increased by almost one million, and revenue by two million Euros on the previous year. These achievements are due to a number of factors, including fleet expansion, accessibility of service, and the provision of a viable alternative to private car use. Under the government’s Transport 21 Investment Programme, buses are the most effective short to medium term solution to meet the ever growing demand for public transport. It falls on Dublin Bus to meet the transport needs of the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) whilst the infrastructure for other modes of public transport – particularly rail – is still in the developmental stages. Under the government’s Transport 21 Investment Programme in Public Transport, Dublin Bus has been charged with increasing its passenger carrying capacity by 60 per cent. The first phase of this began with the addition of 100 buses in December 2006; bringing the fleet to 1182. These buses are currently being deployed across the network, resulting in the introduction of new routes, improvements to existing routes, additional services and more capacity. Preliminary figures show that the first phase of improvements have resulted in carrying over 50,000 customers each week, which equates to at least 2.6 million extra customers per annum. It is expected that once all of these improvements are in place, it will lead to an overall growth in passenger numbers of an additional eight million. Apart from the introduction of new services, another result of constant fleet expansion and replacement is that Dublin Bus now boasts one of the youngest fleets in Europe. Each new bus is low floor and wheelchair accessible, as Dublin Bus is committed to having a fleet that is fully accessible by 2012.
Accessibility for all
As a public transport provider, Dublin Bus is committed to ensuring a service that can be easily accessed by everyone. In 2002, only 35 per cent of the Dublin Bus fleet was accessible, but due to its fleet replacement programme, that figure is due to increase to 70 per cent by the end of this year. In April 2007, Dublin Bus launched the Travel Assistance Scheme, which promotes independent use of public transport amongst those who have a mobility or sensory impairment. The Travel Assistance Scheme offers practical advice on using public transport. A trained travel assistant is available to meet with and accompany the customer for the first few times that they use the service. Dublin Bus is continuing with increased installation of Kassel kerbing and is in the process of revamping how it presents information on its services, making it easier for customers to access information on the services relevant to them. Another initiative introduced by Dublin Bus in order to increase accessibility is the company website (www.dublinbus.ie). Its interactive facilities now allow customers to easily access information such as maps and timetables and even purchase tickets online; thus simplifying the bus travel experience. At present the website is being re-designed and will be re-launched later this year. Along with the revamped website, Dublin Bus has launched a new communications campaign accompanied by a re-design of its brand’s livery, literature and on-street signage. The aim of the campaign is to get non-bus users to re-assess what Dublin Bus can offer as an alternative to sitting in a car in gridlocked traffic.
In addition to increasing its fleet numbers, Dublin Bus strives to move with technological developments within the transport sector. Dublin Bus has rolled out the Microbus computer system in all garages. The system fully integrates scheduling, shift duties and timetables and has created greater efficiencies. In 2003, the company installed a new trunked radio system to ensure a high level of communication between depots and buses. By 2005, over 90 per cent of the fleet had been fitted with new digital security systems. The project, costing 2.8 million Euros was funded by the Department of Transport. Currently the company is investing in an Automated Vehicle Location and Control (AVLC) system. Once in place (in two years time), on all buses within the fleet, it will pave the way for the implementation of a real time passenger information (RTPI) system, which will ensure a greater level of predictability for all of its customers. RTPI will be made available to customers on-street, via mobile phone, and on the internet.
Quality Bus Corridors
Studies undertaken by Dublin Bus have shown that by giving buses increased prioritisation over cars, the effects of congestion can be minimised. This fact has been recognised by the travelling public who have altered their behaviour to reflect this. In the case of the Quality Bus Corridor (QBC) in the south-east of Dublin between 1997 and 2005, the percentage of commuters who opted for the bus over a private car during the morning peak period rose from 41 per cent to 57 per cent. Overall, the investment in QBCs has increased and the results can be seen. In 2005, 41 per cent of Dublin Bus customers travelled by QBC. However; through an inter-agency approach involving local government authorities, the Quality Bus Network Office, The Dublin Transportation Office, and the Department of Transport, a priority programme for 2008 has been agreed which will see further improvements to services and travel times for customers.
Greener Business Policies
The negative impact of fuel emissions on the environment has always been a concern for Dublin Bus. With this in mind, the company has consistently pursued policies that comply with European emission standards which limit the levels of various pollutants such as Carbon Monoxide, Hydrocarbons, Nitrous Oxides and Particulates. Improving bus engine standards have ensured a steady decline in the discharge of pollutants. In addition to improvements in levels of fuel emissions, developments in engine standards have resulted in an increase in fuel efficiency.
Changes in Permitted European Emission Levels
The percentage of vehicles in the Dublin Bus fleet which comply with each directive, as of year end 2006, are as follows:
- Euro 1 – 10 per cent
- Euro 2 – 49 per cent
- Euro 3 – 41 per cent
These figures highlight a significant improvement in the profile of the bus fleet due to the ongoing fleet investment policy and represent a substantial reduction in emissions. This trend of improved emissions will continue as more stringent standards are imposed on both engine and fuel manufacturers and as older vehicles are replaced. All Dublin Bus vehicles delivered in 2007 have engines compliant with the Euro 4 emissions standard. Hybrid vehicles are a developing technology in the transport industry and have a number of advantages with regard to emissions, particularly carbon dioxide. Dublin Bus is currently examining a hybrid diesel bus option, (which has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up to 30 per cent) and will acquire a hybrid double deck for trials in 2008. In May 2006, Dublin Bus undertook a trial involving a five per cent bio-diesel blend on some of its tour buses. The results of the study have yielded significant results and, over the coming years, Dublin Bus aims to build on this success by extending the scope of such trials and using a higher blend of bio-diesel. Along with technological advancements, driver training methods are also effective in reducing fuel consumption and emissions. It is company policy that all buses at termini must have their engines switched off. Dublin Bus is committed to reducing its emissions by continuing to keep pace with new technologies in the areas of biofuel and alternative drivelines. Through a combination of such practices, the company aims to achieve significant results.
Corporate and Social Responsibility
Whilst the primary function of Dublin Bus is to provide a reliable method of public transport for the inhabitants of the GDA, it also aims to play an active role in the communities served and with this in mind, has implemented various policies based on the ethos of social and corporate responsibility.
Schools Art Competition
The Schools Art Competition began in 2002 with a pilot programme in the Darndale area of Dublin, aimed at promoting the concept of respecting public transport amongst school children. By highlighting the benefits of the bus, Dublin Bus aims to instil amongst its younger customers the damaging effects of vandalism on buses. The campaign culminated in an art and poetry competition with the winning entries published in a Dublin Bus calendar that was distributed amongst the participating schools, Dublin Bus staff and elected representatives in the Dublin Area. Such was the success of the first programme that it was expanded throughout the Dublin Bus service network and is now an annual event, with a new calendar produced each year. Each of the Dublin Bus depots has a full time school co-ordinator who visits schools within the individual catchment areas and relays a message to young people about how to use and respect public transport in their area.
Dublin Bus Community Support Programme
The Dublin Bus Community Support Programme is a scheme that was established by Dublin Bus to recognise the vital work of local charities and voluntary groups that are based in the communities served in the Dublin area. Now entering its fourth year, by the end of 2007 over 700 charities will have benefited under the programme. Through the Community Support Programme, Dublin Bus strengthens the links that it has established with the community and shows that it is dedicated to giving back to the community that it serves. Groups are awarded their grants at a special awards ceremony.
Social Responsibility Internally
Acting in a socially responsible manner is not solely an outwardly focused policy. A company is only as good as its staff, and with this in mind, Dublin Bus has implemented initiatives to ensure that our staff can get the most out of their time with the company and can know that their role within the company is greatly appreciated. In 2002, a merit awards system was set-up where staff members submitted ideas on how aspects of operations within the company could be improved. Now entering its fifth year, the renamed Quality Customer Awareness (QCA) initiative has proved to be extremely popular with Dublin Bus staff.
Challenges for the Future
Whilst Dublin Bus continues to work towards meeting the needs of the growing GDA, it has identified congestion as the greatest challenge that it faces. As the GDA has increased in size, so has the congestion issue. Back in 2002, congestion cost the company 34 million Euros, but it is estimated that this figure increased to in excess of 60 million Euros last year and continues to grow. Dublin Bus’ main response to the problems posed by congestion is more priority for buses, especially in the city centre area. Dublin Bus aims to ensure that the length of QBCs will be doubled and that its Quality Bus Network will be expanded significantly over the next five years. The company estimates that by pursuing such policies, the percentage of Dublin Bus customers using QBCs will increase to 59 per cent in 2008 and 63 per cent by 2011. Through the pursuit of such tactics, Dublin Bus aims to offset the effects of congestion, ensure a public transport service that will be in a constant state of improvement and maintain its position as the most effective public transport provider in Dublin.
Issue 6 2007
Bus & Coach