NTA officials made a presentation to members of South Dublin County Council at the October monthly full Council meeting, covering bus, rail, Luas etc. This is attached below as a PDF document for your convenience. If you can't open this format I can send in another way.
Following on from this presentation, each Councillor had 60 seconds to ask questions on this or raise queries.
In my contribution I expressed hope we would have more time to go through local issues at a future Area Committee meeting. I raised again the specific need to address bus users in Adamstown and Dodsboro, by allowing a 25-type route through Lucan village or making the X30 hourly. This would obviously have a knock on effect on seating availability for other users of C1 and C2 services.
I also asked whether the NTA should pause the rollout of the Bus Connects until such as time as additional drivers could be recruited as it appears the rollout is taking drivers off existing routes. Lastly I queried whether there should be higher fines for no shows.
I had other questions such as peak time train services, Luas, the C2 route past Lidl, the W6 route connection date from Newcastle to Hazelhatch, the ability of additional buses to be put in to supplement full buses half way along a route etc but 60 seconds goes very fast and I while I've already raised these issues through other channels I will be be looking at other ways to raise them again.
Interestingly enough, the NTA did not address our locally-specific questions in their replies. I hope these are dealt at another meeting. They said they have been asked to numerous area committee meetings and try to facilitate as much as they can, but they we would prefer to meet at a full meeting or even outside council meetings to update people on a regular basis. I don't care through what forum once they engage and respond to issues raised, but so far, while they are good on information, they are not great on taking on board suggestions.
They did address a number of general issues. In terms of arguments for fully free public transport – and I would prefer money to be spent on improving the current service first - they said that services are already at capacity at different times. Totally free transport would only currently make services more difficult for those already using public transport. Plus, they argue that research shows it encourages people not to walk or cycle on short trips and also potentially increases antisocial behaviour.
The NTA claims to have seen an increase in the numbers of users on the C Spine routes, "so we have delivered as much as we can in terms of the resources available to the operators". They maintained that funding is not an issue at the moment, but recruiting drivers is.
Drivers are on the list of essential workers now so they can be recruited outside the EU.
In terms of reliability issues I raised they said: "no doubt coming out of Covid we had huge issues about reliability of services, it was down to a lack of drivers. Companies have been recruiting hard but congestion can impact on those services at times, for example congestion in town did impact on services last weekend because bus routes were being diverted".
The Hazelhatch Section 38 preparation is nearly concluded and coming to members. This should be finished by Q2 and a full W6 service should be in situ by then.