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Dublin Airport Bus Service Changes

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Comments

  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,922 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    Maybe, I feel it could be extremely tough competition. Unlike Aircoach, Dublin Express's route largely overlaps with the 747. Dublin Express use a more comfortable coach and is one euro cheaper then Airlink. I can't see why anyone (other then free travel pass users) would take the Airlink option over the DX option.

    There is also a long term question for DB to answer. They currently use old DB city buses that have already been heavily used on PSO routes and then had extra baggage racks add.ed Nice easy and cheap to do. But will they be able to continue to do this in future? Remember the newer GT's and SG class buses are owned by the NTA rather then DB, might not be so cheap for DB to get buses for this service in future. And then they have to ask will they need to consider buying coaches instead to compete with DX. They might need to make much larger investment in future, at the same time that their market share on the route is shrinking.

    I'm sure some one will know of another example, but I can't think of any other airport I've ever been too, where you pay a premium to take a city bus! Usually the two options are (assuming no rail/metro) is either a cheap city bus like the 16 or a more expensive, premium non stop coach. When I think about Airlink it really is a weird and perhaps unique service. I'm not sure it continues to make sense and can compete in it's current form with increased competition and options.



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,619 ✭✭✭ GM228


    They currently use old DB city buses that have already been heavily used on PSO routes and then had extra baggage racks added

    Could be wrong, but I thought that VG36 to 48 were part of an add on order specifically for the Airlink services funded by DB directly outside the allocated PSO fund and they worked these services from new, they were not PSO, only VG1 to 35 and 49 and 50 were PSO buses (with 34, 35, 49 and 50 later added to the Airlink fleet).



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,174 ✭✭✭ john boye


    The airlink VG fleet has been on the route from new (apart from the later additions) like all the batches that have been used on it down the years. It's actually quite rare that buses are taken from the regular fleet and added to the Airlink fleet (ie painted up in the livery and equipped with luggage racks etc.).



  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,177 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull


    Aircoach also overlap with the 747 in terms of those who would like to get to O'Connell Street and the heart of the city centre, yet these areas that the two companies have in common in the city centre remain right in the top few stops in terms of passengers for Airlink. If it was a simple as you say then Aircoach should easily be taking the bulk of the custom from the areas both they and Airlink serve such as O'Connell Street, but DB Airlink does incredibly well in that area.

    Also as GM228 has said, VG36-VG48 that are used for the Airlink service have been used for the Airlink service since they were new and were purchased by Dublin Bus outright and were never part of the PSO fleet. I do think that the fact they are just an ordinary basic spec city bus operating a premium service delivers a very bad value proposition compared to Aircoach and Dublin Express, but as I said, brand recognition, those with Airlink included in passes, free travel pass holders, and for those needing direct access to bus and train stations directly, Airlink remains the number one choice.

    And the other thing is that there are some people (and yes, they do exist) who simply have used Dublin Bus for many many years and it's just routine to use them. They wouldn't even think of taking another operator. That might be alien to me or you who are people who are interested in public transport, but to the average person on the street who doesn't care about public transport like we do, they see Dublin Bus as the bus operator and get on it because it's familiar and they know the routes. I know quite a few of these people, and they wouldn't even give using another operator a second thought.

    I agree with what you are saying in theory and personally my opinion would be similar but in practice it isn't as straightforward as it looks on paper and also the evidence on the excellent loads that I have observed over the past few years even where there is competition, suggests that Dublin Bus do far better on their commercial airport services than you seem to think and pre-pandemic they were far from losing money.

    Dublin Express are not just going to start running on 16th and annihilate the competition. Certainly their position means they'll pick up a fair number of tourists from the airport in passing trade. They're going to have to heavily market their services to the Irish public as well and get word out about their routes and where they go and why people should use them. They're not going to be able to just plonk bus stops up in the city and park a few coaches at the airport and magically everyone will desert Airlink overnight.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 797 ✭✭✭ The Nutty M


    I suspect Dublin Express will hoover up a lot more passengers just because the 747 is not there at the moment for heuston bound traffic. Hopefully they are reliable and straightforward.



  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,177 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull


    Of course. In the short term they really will benefit from that. I am a bit surprised we've heard nothing from Dublin Bus on Airlink so far. They should be defending their patch.

    Last thing they should be doing is giving their new competitor a free run and virtually gifting passengers to them. It will result in people going to Dublin Express because they're going to the Airlink stop and there is nobody there and they just happen to have a competitor on their doorstep. And if Dublin Express are as commercially savvy as they should be, they will have plenty of staff out on the ground making sure they influence people to travel with them and really exploit this opportunity.

    Incidentally Aircoach have now changed their 700 timetable to counter the relaunch of Dublin Express , the service was every half an hour from Dublin Airport between 03:55 and 20:25 and then every hour until 00:25. Now extra services have been added at 20:55, 21:55 and 22:55 which essentially matches the Dublin Express frequency of every 30 minutes, although Dublin Coach finish earlier at 23:05 with Aircoach having services at 23:25 and 00:25.

    Be interesting to see what happens with fares in this battle, since both Dublin Express and Aircoach are now at €8 return too and you would have to wonder what DB would do with Airlink in terms of pricing.



  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,177 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull


    Just a note to say that the Dublin Express route has now changed from the route I published earlier in this thread. Smithfield and Heuston Station are now listed as stops, but were not in the original timetable published by the operator earlier this week.

    FROM DUBLIN AIRPORT T1 & T2

    • Airport T1 & T2
    • George's Quay (Tara Street)
    • Aston Quay (O'Connell Bridge)
    • Wellington Quay (Temple Bar)
    • Merchant's Quay (Christchurch)
    • Usher's Quay (Libertines)
    • Heuston Station (Near Phoenix Park) NEW
    • Arran Quay (Smithfield) NEW
    • Ormond Quay Upper (Grattan Bridge)
    • Eden Quay (Marlborough Street)
    • Custom House Quay (Docklands)

    TO DUBLIN AIRPORT T1 & T2

    • Aston Quay (O'Connell Bridge)
    • Wellington Quay (Temple Bar)
    • Merchant's Quay (Christchurch)
    • Usher's Quay (Libertines)
    • Heuston Station (Near Phoenix Park)
    • George's Quay (Tara Street)NEW
    • Arran Quay (Smithfield) NEW
    • Ormond Quay Upper (Grattan Bridge)
    • Eden Quay (Marlborough Street)
    • Custom House Quay (Docklands)
    • Airport T1 & T2 

    New timetable with the extra stops in attached




  • Registered Users Posts: 581 ✭✭✭ Citrus_8


    Used Dublin Express once before covid and absolutely loved them! I'm shocked that such a bad DB service as Airlink is still an option - in my opinion, it should be much more direct (ex, be a route such as 16 but with less stops or via tunnel but covering more areas just to make sense of the less comfortable buses).

    I'm confused with Dublin Express leaflet though. It says 24/7 while they're 4am to 00.20am currently.

    Another thing - I think, Dublin Airport website should list all of these operators with a short comparison table or there should be a website running by the NTA such as dublinairportbuses.ie or similar with all the timetables, operators, prices so the visitors don't need to spend time searching themselves. This would benefit the private operators as some tourists definitely are using the Airlink due to DB recognition. Which is unfair as Airlink, in my opinion, is an embarrassment.



  • Registered Users Posts: 445 ✭✭ p_haugh


    I was about to mention the fact that the initial map from earlier in the week showed the routing via heuston & Smithfield, with the stop numbering skipping 6 & 7 - meaning stops at those locations were possibly on the cards. The new Heuston Station stop will *really* give Airlink some stiff competition now



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  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,922 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    Thanks guys, I stand corrected on the VG's being old PSO buses and are instead purpose built and purchased for the service.

    However they are getting on in age now and it most be approaching time for DB to make decisions on replacing them and purchasing new buses for the service. Given the competition now, I really feel that they might need to consider purchasing coaches instead for the service the next time around. I don't think city style buses will cut it in the future for this service.

    And then the question is if it even makes financial sense to continue the service, given the financial outlay of buying new buses/coaches, at a time when they would face shrinking market share in the face of this new competition and potential price war with DX and Aircoach. A tough position to be in.

    I get what you are saying devnull about people being used to the brand etc. But you could have said all these things too about the BE Expressway services versus the private operators and look how that worked out. Airlink not running when a new competitor is on running, reminds me of how long it took for GoBE too Cork to get started and once they did, they had already lost most people to Aircoach.

    Also while yes, the Aircoach stops at O'Connell St and is thus a partial competitor to the 747. DX is almost a complete replacement of the 747, matching almost every stop on the route, so I'd argue it is a much stronger and more direct competitor to that service then Aircoach was. It will definitely take significant market share from the 747 IMO.

    Glad to hear DX have added Hueston and the other stops to the route, they make a lot of sense.



  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,177 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull


    Yes, I noticed that about the Dublin Express timetable PDF, but to be fair Aircoach on the front page of their website still say they operate up to every 15 minutes 24x7, when they haven't been doing so since the start of the pandemic (but did for years and years before that).

    I can't see the operators or Dublin Airport agreeing to the kind of website that you are looking for, because Dublin Airport make lots of money where the best stands get flogged to the highest bidders and you can imagine that the highest bidders would argue that they should be given more preference on the website in return for the hefty fees they have paid for the stands.

    Dublin Airport could really do with a proper independently run travel information desk staffed by Failte Ireland or the NTA though. The current situation where you have operators having generic unbranded signs saying things like "ALL BUSES TO DUBLIN" and directing you to their own stops making out they are the only operator that runs such service. You've also got the situation where CIE have a desk in T1 that is branded as a travel information desk when in reality it's a commercial sales desk to promote and direct people to their own services, rather than independent travel advice.



  • Registered Users Posts: 581 ✭✭✭ Citrus_8


    Gosh, why there is so much mess and nobody takes time and puts the effort to resolve all this unfairness? I'm so sick of situations when competitors fight for their place against others which isn't healthy for the competition. They should rather focus to their service quality. It isn't an easy life for passengers in Ireland - pdf timetables (while they're handy, for a regular passenger they may seem overwhelming), lack of info on 1 website, no easy to compare services, lack of maps etc etc. There's no standardisation. Passengers are forced to use their own time to do a research.



  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,177 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull


    If Dublin Bus do not pull their finger out and get Airlink running in the next few weeks then they are literally leaving the barn door open for the likes of Dublin Express. I guess that Dublin Bus might think that in the short term with demand still supressed they are only going to lose money by being in a three way fight with Aircoach and Dublin Express where there is not a huge amount of custom to pick up. However, that's incredibly short sighted.

    The thing is National Express are not a here today, gone tomorrow company. They are exceptionally well resourced and in Bernard Kavanagh they have an excellent partner. The fact that they've been stopped for almost 18 months and have come back when many thought they would give it up, shows they really do mean business and are here for the long haul. Their biggest barrier here was always going to be the fact they were going to have to build up a customer base from scratch under a new brand.

    The fact that Dublin Bus might well have opened the biggest barrier that National Express faced by giving them the area outside arrivals to themselves for a while, will be music to the ears of National Express executives who probably expected to face a far harder fight for custom. Literally Dublin Bus are turning away to the neighbour on their doorstep at the area outside arrivals.

    To be fair the situation is different with GoBE, since GoBE was a new entrant and Aircoach were very smart with how they dealt with that. Here Dublin Express is the new entrant and Airlink is the incumbent and as such, Airlink needs to be defending itself in light of Dublin Express. The next few weeks could be very important and I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see a reaction from DB sooner rather than later.



  • Registered Users Posts: 229 ✭✭ ax586


    Rumour has it in DB the Airlinks are not returning now as I said its a Rumour..

    Now as you all keep saying DB where planing on getting new buses for the Airlinks but hey covid-19 got in the way as far as I know they where getting the same buses that Lothian use on its services in Edinburgh the E500's on lease



  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,922 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    E500? Is that the tri-axle ADL Enviro400XLB?

    Very nice looking bus, but giving the competition I feel like they really need a coach. Maybe they could spec it out more coach like with more comfortable seats etc.



  • Registered Users Posts: 229 ✭✭ ax586


    Sorry bk, yes the enviro400XLB I've Enviro500 on the brain and apparently they would being kitted out in high spec.



  • Registered Users Posts: 229 ✭✭ ax586


    This one actually got sent over to Dublin..But there was issues with it on the boat so it went back on the same boat it came on.



  • Registered Users Posts: 68 ✭✭ Innisfallen


    There are new ads in the T2 arrivals hall for the 747 today, I assume that's a sign it's coming back soon.



  • Registered Users Posts: 22 Bumblebee2020


    Dublin Express look like they are taking charge, they have a new bus stop in Heuston station on their 782 licence, I’ve noticed their buses stopping in there this week on dry runs.

    I can see Airlink staying away and looking for a possible sale, it doesn’t make sense to keep it off the road other than a sale.

    i can’t see Aircoach happy staying on in their location if Airlink are not due back, they will push for a move.



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  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,177 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull


    It doesn't look like Airlink is going anywhere.

    Not only have the posters gone up in the airport in the last couple of days with more to go up, but they also have now launched a dedicated website for the service at www.airlinkexpress.ie which rebrands the service as "Dublin Bus Airlink Express" complete with a new logo and a new slogan 'simply connect faster' which looks like it is going to trumpet the services strengths, such as connecting with bus and rail stations and other Dublin Bus services.

    I would imagine that Dublin Bus have been caught on the hop by Dublin Express launching and adding a Heuston stop and we may well end up hearing something soon. The fact that they have started updating their marketing materials is not the kind of thing you expect from an operator that is going away.

    I also don't think that the sale argument holds water. If you were looking to buy the Airlink license, for every day that it bleeds customers to Dublin Express, the value of that license becomes less and less. The best way to sell it off is to put it on the road so it can stop the customer bleed so it's value does not fall down.

    I also cannot see Dublin Bus operating a coach either, they are a bus company and not a coach company at the end of the day and I don't see that changing. The route they might go down is a high specification double decker with a coach style interior like First have on the Essex Airlink or Lothian have on their airport service.




  • Registered Users Posts: 675 ✭✭✭ d51984


    We should take a leaf out of Lothains book, they know how to spec an airport decker!

    Its a disgrace Joe!



  • Registered Users Posts: 229 ✭✭ ax586




  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,177 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull


    Nothing to apologise for! 🙂 We'll see what happens in coming days and weeks.

    It seems to be quite a fluid situation what with the extra stops suddenly on Dublin Express, extra services on Aircoach and seemingly a potential marketing drive from DB. But everything could change in a few days again!!



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,174 ✭✭✭ john boye


    Did Airlink briefly return at a much reduced frequency for a while last year between lockdown 1 and 2? Am I imagining that?



  • Registered Users Posts: 445 ✭✭ p_haugh


    From reading the Tapatalk transport forum, it appears Dublin Bus have also got some Ticketer ticket machines (the ones that Aircoach also use) for the service as well - also there's mention on the site of the ability to book a VIP mini coach airport transfer through DoDublin? I assume this is some chauffer company doing it on behalf of Dublin Bus (Edit - link to minibus hire here: https://dodublin.ie/city-sightseeing-tours/attractions/mini-bus-hire-247/16-seater)



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,548 ✭✭✭ dublinman1990


    The Airlink Express adult fares for single tickets has gone up an extra euro to €7. Child fares are €3. Family tickets (2 adults, 2 kids) are €17.

    The return fares are as follows: Adults €12, Child €5, Family tickets (2 adults, 2 kids) €30.

    You can buy Airlink Express single tickets on the DoDublin website.

    The website link is here if you want to purchase them.

    I'm personally very happy to hear that Airlink is coming back to Dublin Bus. I think this service coming back to us is a way to generate much needed income for Dublin Bus. They have suffered quite a tough period in their finances even though they were getting lots of state support for operating their PSO routes through the pandemic. They probably need the money from running the Airlink again because they have large bills to cover if they haven't been able to cover them in a normal way during the crisis. It's also a way to give back some confidence in having some form of normality coming back for it's staff that have been out there providing these routes before the pandemic had hit us last year.



  • Registered Users Posts: 22 Bumblebee2020


    this is not a new website, it’s a few years old. Airlink/Dublin Bus like to make multiple websites to get sales,

    ticket machines came out of the airport last week, that’s the only movement with Airlink in a while.

    The desk inside is gone and won’t be back.


    The only ground staff they have taken on is for DoDublin on 2month contracts….and no mention for ground staff in the airport


    no Union discussions with drivers to get them back in the Airlink either


    my bet is Aircoach will move to Lot 2 and Airlink would slip away and you will see Dublin Express get a few more 747 bus stops.

    Post edited by Bumblebee2020 on


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,174 ✭✭✭ john boye


    From everything that's been presented here I haven't seen much to suggest that Airlink is returning imminently. That website doesn't appear to be as new or recent as some people think. Looks like it hasn't been updated since March 2020, at the outset of the pandemic.

    EDIT: Just noticed I clicked on the old site linked above. Not sure why that was linked? I see the new one now with updated info. Interesting.



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  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,177 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull


    Ignore the Do Dublin website - it hasn't been updated at all, it still has old information, I would say it is likely that it would be updated in due course if they are coming back.

    www.airlinkexpress.ie looks like a work in progress, there are a fair few grammar errors on the pages and a fair few what look to be notes for internal consumption such as <insert x here> for example.



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