Originally Posted by cgcsb
We're 3 years since the launch of bus connects and the implementation of the revised network is now coming up on 2 years behind what was originally touted to be the start date of the new network (now to be phased in over 4 years). I don't expect it to be done quickly, merely stated it could and should be done quickly. Pointing out that it's a lot of work is fine and all but it's work that should be done by now, instead of sitting around saying it's a lot of work and not starting said work using far fetched excuses of public perception.
There is no real barriers as it stands to rolling out the H spine, it could be done next week if there were a will, even if the time table had to be changed post covid (will have to happen anyway).
Just to focus on the timeframes here, I think you need to stand back from this a bit, and perhaps realise that the NTA made serious basic mistakes in this process from the outset.
The original implementation schedule that the NTA published was bunkum, and anyone outside of the NTA with an understanding of the complexities involved in day-to-day operations would have known that. I certainly said it was nonsense at the time. But as with many things, the NTA found that out the hard way. So scrap that for a start.
Also, a lot of time was lost due to the nonsenical parameters set by the NTA in the original proposal, which they based on the responses to a very high level online survey which was massively overly-simplistic.
Then we had the original network proposal drawn up by Jarrett Walker which was based on these half-assed parameters from the NTA which involved an awful lot of people being forced to change to rail, LUAS or other buses to get to the city centre, rather than the direct service they had, and others having to walk further to get a bus. The fact that the trains, trams and buses were already full was ignored. But the NTA pushed ahead with it. It also cancelled a lot of community bus routes which many people rely on.
Much of that proposal ended up being overwhelmingly rejected by the responses to the consultation, and indeed the Taoiseach told Anne Graham to start the process again (and that is on the Dáil record).
It also didn't help that the first consultation was planned to be held during July and August when most people are on holidays. That was another mistake, which lead to the consultation period being extended significantly, but I would suggest that the number of responses to it, proved that it was the correct thing to do.
So, taking all of that into account, I would suggest that you need to look at this from the perspective that the orginal plan from July 2018 was effectively binned following that consultation, and rightly so.
I look it as that a brand new proposal was produced in October 2019, which was far more realistic. That went to consultation, and we finally got the revised network proposal in September 2020, based on the consultation in Autumn/Winter 2019, the production of which it would be fair to say was impacted by Covid.
I think that the NTA made several massive errors of judgement in the early part of this process and their communications during the first consultation was atrocious. The almost-complete lack of day-to-day operational transport experience in that organisation was telling in the early stages of the project and that unfortunately has had significant negative consequences.
We are now though at implementation stage, and it is clear finally that the NTA have realised that the idealistic timeframe they quoted orginally (one big change) was impossible.
If you look back at Network Direct, that was done over quite a few phases, and there were issues with many routes during those phases that required new driver bills and schedules to be drawn up. That took time to get right as it is complicated to do.
Implementing the H Spine in a week as you suggest isn't realistic. Sure they could renumber the individual routes. But this is about delivering a new bus service, and it is not just a renumbering exercise. The Spine concept focusses on is delivering even headways along the section of the route that the various spine routes share, both inbound and outbound. That requires completely new integrated timetables, and therefore driver and bus rosters to be drawn up.
More importantly, this project requires a completely new approach to scheduling from Dublin Bus. You may not be concerned about that, but unless the underlying processes that deliver the bus service are got right this whole exercise will collapse in a mess. It is important that they get that right.
I understand that they have been trialling stop specific timetables on the Howth Road routes (29a/31/31a/31b/32) since the winter, but with Covid lockdown levels changing and traffic levels dropping again, the running times underlying those schedules were way too generous. That meant buses having to wait at stops as they were early, something passengers were complaining about on social media.
Add to that, I believe that agreement has only recently been reached between DB and the unions on safe locations for buses to wait along routes if they are running early.
I don't think that people were sitting around doing nothing as you are implying, but developing new schedules couldn't begin to happen until the final network was decided upon by the NTA. Remember that the schedulers were also doing the normal day-to-day work as well. They are all operating company staff in the depots, and not employed by the NTA.
As I said above, you will need bodies on the ground to help people for this rollout. That's not realistic until level 5 restrictions are lifited. Never underestimate how many people find about the changes at the bus stop on the morning and first days of the change. Past experience bears that out.
There is progress. The bus stops along the Howth Road have been rebranded, stop specific timetables are being rolled out along the stops on those routes, and there will shortly be enough buses repainted in the new livery (as part of the normal repainting cycle) to allocate to the routes for phase 1 - I imagine that the NTA will want the routes to be operated by new liveried vehicles.
I would also imagine that work is taking place on the next phase too, as schedulers are garage based within Dublin Bus rather than working at head office.
But I think if I was to get one point through to you, it is that this is a slow tedious process to come up with the detailed schedules, and that's even before the additional complication of stop-by-stop schedules with even headways elements are added.
The devil is in the detail with these things, and getting that right is not something that will happen overnight.