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NTA Incompetent?

  • 27-10-2022 11:19pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,058 ✭✭✭

    So it seems when it comes to the provision of public transport and in particular bus services in Dublin the NTA have taken a very hands off approach blaming all the issues on the operators and even drivers too.

    I think the NTA needs to take some responsibility themselves instead of constantly blaming DB, GAI and BE. They're the ones who are in charge not the operators. The current mess with the G spine and the problems appears to be the NTA placing throwing DB and GAI under the bus if you pardon the pun.

    Compared to TFL the organisation the NTA are based off for all their flaws at least TFL actually take charge of issues in relation it's not good enough if you make a complaint in London about a TFL bus service to TFL they don't tell you to take it up with Arriva or Go-Ahead but here the NTA do exactly that.

    At least when DB had all the routes it wasn't as confusing for passengers. Now we have the National Transport Authority who seem to want all the authority but none of the responsibility when it comes to the operation of bus services.

    Why did they even bother putting services out to tender to GAI I know when GAI came in there was an increase in frequency but they could have just given DB extra capacity instead of GAI if they weren't bothered to take on the responsibility.



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    My criticism of them recently would be that they’re very quick to publicise new routes and spines as if it’s all down to them; then the new route starts and it’s…silence.

    Rating their performance since Bus Connects has started:

    H Spine - 7/10. Fine. Nothing to see here. 3 perfectly working bus routes changed numbers. End of. Opportunity missed by ending at North City Centre and no 24 hr service

    N4/N6 - 8/10. Their shiny new baby. Everything seems to have been pumped into these, especially the N4. Never any shortages on the N4 anyway. Mad.

    G Spine - 2/10. Sounds disastrous from the thread on here. Taking out a quick bus to Ballyfermot and replacing them with these and the 60 that apparently crawl through Kilmainham due to infrastructure not being up to scratch. Did they not expect this?

    C Spine - seems to have settled down after early teething problems. 24 hr running bumps this up to a 7/10.

    Overall rollout - 5/10. Average. Some good interventions but management of resources seems to have been deplorable. Launching new spines and routes when the staff clearly aren’t there. I’m also not a believer in sending buses through areas that are black spots that might get upgrades to infrastructure later on. Passengers suffer while authorities dither.

  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 22,450 Mod ✭✭✭✭bk

    I mean London is experiencing pretty much all the same issues, in particular the issue with shortage of drivers, it is an industry wide issue:

    Lets pretend NTA and GA didn't exist, it was all under DB's control, we would still have the same driver shortage issue regardless as it is an industry wide issue across Europe.

    As an end user of bus services, the NTA has been the best thing that has happened to public transport and have greatly improved the overall bus experience IMO

    • Intercity coach services serving every city every 30 minutes almost 24 hours a day, with toilets and wifi, a VAST improve in the terrible BE service that preceded them.
    • Finally a truly integrated tickets with the 90 minute ticket and incredible value at €2
    • Great reductions in child and young adult tickets.
    • Increases in frequency across the network, in particular off peak, weekends and sundays
    • True 24/7 bus services
    • N4 is the best thing since sliced pan (I live near this route).
    • Drivers finally using the rear door consistently
    • Nice new livery
    • Starting to get electric buses.
    • Leap Card

    We still have a very long way to go, but with the improvements we have seen so far, I finally see the outline and possibility of a quality bus network, one you would expect to find in a European capital city.

    Of course there are serious growing pains, trying to rollout such an ambitious project like BusConnects when there is an industry wide driver shortage is going to be very hard, but I still think it is the right thing to do.

    Having used the N4, 24/7 routes, etc. I'm absolutely convinced this is the right way to go and needs to be continued (with tweaks of course) and hopefully with more drivers to ease issues.

    BTW I don't think the NTA are perfect, far from it, the biggest issue I have is just how ridiculously long it is taking them to roll out these projects.

    But prior to the NTA being formed, I saw very little evidence that DB could execute on a project like BusConnects any better or hell even envisage something like BusConnects.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,117 ✭✭✭p_haugh

    The best thing to come out of COVID was indeed the fact that drivers (for Dublin bus and GAI at least) actually use the centre doors

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,058 ✭✭✭mikeybhoy

    Yeah but in London at least TFL actually take responsibility for the bus service as opposed to the NTA who blame every thing on the operators. Look at Twitter any tweets about problems with bus services get redirected to the bus operators whereas in London TFL take full responsibility for everything.

    Leap cards and 90 minute fare have definitely been a positive development 100% but why is it taking so long to introduce contactless payments and cashless buses. London has had this since 2014.

    The cheaper fares were down to government policy not the NTA.

    The livery is a matter of personal taste. I personally am not a huge fan prefer the DB livery tbh.

    I'm not saying the NTA are bad organisation I'm just saying when they've tried to take more control over services it's worked out as well for them.

  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 22,450 Mod ✭✭✭✭bk

    "Yeah but in London at least TFL actually take responsibility for the bus service as opposed to the NTA who blame every thing on the operators. Look at Twitter any tweets about problems with bus services get redirected to the bus operators whereas in London TFL take full responsibility for everything."

    I believe this is coming, with the NTA supposed to be setting up their own call center, etc. to manage the interactions with customer.

    Part of the problem here is that DB and other operators have been fighting tooth and nail against giving up their direct relationship with customers. DB continues to operate a customer facing website, app, tracking info, journey planner, etc. I believe DB refused to give up their name, brand and website to the NTA.

    If we were truly following the TFL model, then the DB brand, name, website, etc. should all have been handed over to the NTA and should have been used across both DB and GA and any future operators. Instead we have ended up with a mess of DB apps, NTA apps, etc.

    This is all as much DB's fault for refusing to give up these, as it is for the NTA not being more forceful in taking them over, like happened in London with the London Bus brand, etc.

    "London has had this since 2014."

    I agree completely and is why I say that the NTA are too slow and cautious in rolling out change.

    "The livery is a matter of personal taste. I personally am not a huge fan prefer the DB livery tbh."

    The DB livery looks extremely dated IMO, the new one looks fresh and far nicer (wish there was less yellow), though I did really like the DB Hybrid bus livery they had on the 9 hybrid buses.

    But that isn't the point, the point is the NTA having the power to force consistent branding across both DB and GA, as is normal in London.

    "I'm not saying the NTA are bad organisation I'm just saying when they've tried to take more control over services it's worked out as well for them."

    It is an ongoing process IMO. Far from perfect, but it is definitely movement in the right direction and definitely what is needed to really transform Dublins public transport. And of course there is far more then just buses, there is the bigger picture of Luas, Dart, Metro, cycling, etc.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,820 ✭✭✭munchkin_utd

    in fairness, they do get stuff done down the country too, spectactular progress

    The old situation was a mess. CIE companies were afraid to introduce a new service in case they get sued by private operators on a "same, but slightly different" route.

    Bus eireann down the country/ dept of transport in the big smoke, saw a bus service in the country as being something to ferry the unemployed or pensioners. Many towns and villages literally had one bus a week to the county town on a mid afternoon and thats it. If a couple is working they need TWO cars as bus services were not meant for people who work.

    TFI local link now has regular services in rural ireland, which can get you to work/ further education in the morning without need for a second or third car in a house to compensate for the lack of services, and services back in the evening. They even have the innovation of NOT having jumbo sized buses running in the country which are far more efficient to run that what Bus eireann could offer.

    There was a "department of transport" up in Dublin somewhere with 100s of unsackable staff on top wages and a free parking spot that enabled them to avoid having to take public transport and suffer any consequence of their decisions, and their remit seems to have been to stop services happening rather than work out ways of enabling them, or planning them, or actually doing anything that might make Ireland a more liveable place.

    The NTA has their faults I am sure, but even in the last week theres another prime example of how they are making progress with a 6 times a day, 7 days a week Cavan-Granard-Athone service, which runs on the path of a previous protectionist arrangement where the Cavan-Athlone bus was banned from taking local traffic as that was "owned" by a local operator doing granny shuttles who got very upset with the idea of a long distance bus which is running on a certain route being allowed to take passengers (from him). This is the pre-NTA Ireland. The services were ran for the benefit of the operators not the public and the dept of transport was either inept or toothless (or both)

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,848 ✭✭✭Chris_5339762

    So give the NTA teeth. Bring DB under them directly. If they refuse, force them to do it anyway. This infighting should be stamped out completely.

  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 22,450 Mod ✭✭✭✭bk

    Oh, bus services in Cork city have vastly improved too since the NTA took over. Night and day. The introduction of double decker in Cork city has made such a difference. Greater frequency too, new bus stops and shelter replacing the old rusting junk, etc.

    Still more to do, Leap is still a bit of a mess in Cork, etc. But definite movement in the right direction overall.

    “So give the NTA teeth. Bring DB under them directly. If they refuse, force them to do it anyway. This infighting should be stamped out completely”

    Yes, I find it ironic someone saying that the NTA need to be more like TFL and more aggressive. TFL and London Bus have become today what they are, by the precursor of TFL first taking complete ownership and control of what at the time was operated by public companies, breaking it up into 12 separate operating companies and then privatising them!

    The equivalent would be the NTA taking full ownership and control of DB, breaking it up into 5 or 6 companies and then privatising them!

    By comparison what the NTA has actually done is incredibly conservative and about as beneficial for DB as possible, while staying within the letter of EU law. DB hasn’t been broken up or privatised, and while GA got 10% of routes, it was basically at no expense of DB, those 10% are basically an expansion, not a loss for DB, DB still has the same number of busses and staff as before to GA entering, in fact I think they have more of both now. And even better, DB basically got to pawn off the worst routes on GA, the local and outer orbital routes, while DB gets to focus busiest and most important core bus routes into the city.

    Honestly you couldn’t have asked for a better deal for DB in the face of potential deregulation. The company has gotten off very easy in comparison to London.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,677 ✭✭✭AngryLips

    I imagine that once the NTA have a centralised contact centre for PT services, they will probably take more responsibility.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,532 ✭✭✭✭AMKC

    So I see the GAI got fined €885,000 today and TFI 1million.

    Personally I would have fined GAI more as there services have been truly terrible at times.

    Live long and Prosper

    Peace and long life.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,161 ✭✭✭Citrus_8

    What are you talking about? DB and GAI were fined (and not today), but not TFI. TFI is not an operator, but is just a PT branding by the NTA who issued these fines.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Also, is there any real point of fining companies for not being able to attract and retain enough staff? Seems a pointless exercise which could even exacerbate problems (cash flow).

    You could argue either could be at fault for ghost buses on RTPI etc. However the NTA themselves have owned up to “software” faults on that point.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,677 ✭✭✭AngryLips

    Didn't NTA fine GAI while also renewing their contract? That's true incompetence

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,541 ✭✭✭✭LXFlyer

    They extended the existing contract by 12 months.

    I think there was the reality that finding another operator to take over for 12 months in the middle of a network overhaul might create even more problems.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,058 ✭✭✭mikeybhoy

    They could have given the routes back to DB in a direct award contract

  • Registered Users Posts: 320 ✭✭TranslatorPS

    Let's not fool ourselves by thinking that DB would be able to provide full service on these either.

  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,583 Mod ✭✭✭✭devnull

    DB themselves are not exactly able to run their current portfolio of routes properly, let alone more and that would not just be able to happen at a drop of a hat even if they didn't have that problem.

  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 22,450 Mod ✭✭✭✭bk

    Plus, I'm not sure DB would want those routes, they are some of the most difficult to operate routes in the city, lots of outer locals and orbitals.

    It was a big win for DB to be able to foist those routes off on GAI, while DB got to focus on the busy core routes into the city. DB really couldn't have asked for a much better setup.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,058 ✭✭✭mikeybhoy

    Well DB put in a bid for them when they were put up for tender so it's not like DB didn't want them.

    And nor can GAI to even greater extent than DB. Remember if the routes went back to DB GAI staff would TUPE over to DB so not like they'd have to hire all new staff.

  • Registered Users Posts: 320 ✭✭TranslatorPS

    Well DB put in a bid for them when they were put up for tender so it's not like DB didn't want them.

    Well, it was more of a "we don't want to lose them" scenario back then, but now they're not exactly all eager to have them back either. I've been straight up told Cony Road doesn't want to see the 76 back at all, for example.

    The majority of services in question are operationally expensive: under DB regime, a number of them took their breaks in a garage involving a fair bit of dead-running (17, 17A, 18, 33B, 76/A, 102), which meant that drivers did substantially less revenue hours and revenue kilometres per duty/day compared to some of the services running though the city centre or Donnybrook.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 31,819 ✭✭✭✭gmisk

    2/10 is generous for the G spine.

    Absolute disaster. I know multiple people have raised (inevitable) issues both before and after it went live....

    The 60 is basically goes the route of the old 79...the issue is there is a grand total of one per hour...

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,041 ✭✭✭Vic_08

    Staff can TUPE and the buses can transfer but the garage in Ballymount is bought and owned by Go-Ahead (or if they are any way competent an entirely separate company that just happens to be wholly-owned by the same group) and there is no reason GAI are going to hand it over if they are stripped of the contract or indeed if they decide to pull out due to them being unable to make a profit in Ireland.

    Good luck finding enough space to house all the current GAI fleet in DB garages.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,058 ✭✭✭mikeybhoy

    Well if they lost the contract the site in Ballymount would be fairly useless to them. Anyway it's clear they are not gonna be stripped of the contract if they do lose it, it will be because they submit a weaker bid then an incumbent operator.

    Actually surprised Go-Ahead seem to still having a stab at the Irish market when other UK and international based operators decided the Irish PSO bus market wasn't worth think Arriva, Stagecoach, RATP and even First Group and Transdev who both already have a presence in Ireland decided it wasn't worth it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 909 ✭✭✭Burt Renaults

    They're probably playing a long game. It might not be worth it right now, but the next contract will have to be better if Busconnects is to succeed.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,058 ✭✭✭mikeybhoy

    That's what one would think alright but you'd think if there was any way lucrative all the large players like Arriva, Stagecoach, First Group, Transdev etc. would be all over it like a hot snot.

  • Registered Users Posts: 320 ✭✭TranslatorPS

    All the big international players that were considering bidding for the 2018-23 Dublin city contract that GAI won apparently pulled out when it became clear that a depot location wasn't going to be offered as part of the tender. If memory isn't failing me, there were six or seven companies interested overall (including incumbent DB and winning GA, of course), but I think the part of the crowd with a British presence were expecting the London approach at its fullest, with a garage as part of the deal (keep in mind that a considerable number of London bus garages currently under the independent operators is in fact the same bricks and mortar as under pre-1990s London Transport), and must have been quite disappointed to see that they're getting buses to do the work but nowhere to do it from.

  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,583 Mod ✭✭✭✭devnull

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,058 ✭✭✭mikeybhoy

    But out of all of them only Go-Ahead actually submitted a bid

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,117 ✭✭✭p_haugh

    So it was mentioned in the Committee meeting the other week that the official Dublin Bus app is "end of life", and people should use the official TFI applications now instead.

    I see Luas are stil saying on social media to use their own app for realtime info, I assume this app will also be "end of life" soon?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 17,541 ✭✭✭✭LXFlyer

    Not until new systems arrive.

    The TFI app doesn’t give live LUAS or rail times.