DART Feeder Services:

This article provides a history of the DART Feeder bus services. Firstly, the following present-day and former services operate, or have operated, as DART Feeder services:
  • Route 52: Sandymount/Sydney Parade Station to Kilmacud via UCD Belfield.
  • Route 59: Dún Laoghaire Station to Killiney via Glenageary (DART feeder routing).
  • Route 88: Howth Station to Sutton Station via Howth Summit.
  • Route 90: Connolly Station to Heuston Station via City Centre.
  • Route 101: Blunden Drive to Grange Road Donaghmede via Harmonstown Station (one of many forms, also a Route 101A for a period).
  • Route 102: Sutton Station to Malahide (Seabury) via Portmarnock (initial DART feeder routing).
  • Route 103: Clontarf (Mount Prospect Avenue) to Finglas via Killester DART Station and DCU (initial DART Feeder Routing).
  • Route 111: Dún Laoghaire Station to Ballybrack (Wyattville Road) (later Loughlinstown Park) via Sallynoggin.
  • Route 113: Blackrock Station to Cabinteely via Deansgrange.
  • Route 114: Blackrock Station to Kilcross via Sandyford Industrial Estate (initial DART Feeder routing).

The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) electrified-rail service was part of a major rethink of CIE resource deployment in Dublin. The plan provided for a reliable electric rail service between Howth and Bray, replacing the outdated diesel locomotives that had previously operated these lines. The DART would become the principle transport service along the coastal route, with feeder buses allowing easy access to adjoining suburbs and thus extending the DART's target population. This hub and spoke system would allow CIE to withdraw buses on similar (coastal) routes to the city thus decreasing costs. Such plans were not received with great enthusiasm by the Trade Unions.

The target daily usage for DART was 80,000 passengers. CIE envisaged 60% of all passengers being fed to the system through feeder buses. With a coastal line, the catchment area is halved (nobody lives in the sea), which made the concept of feeder buses even more important to the proposal. CIE's plans for the feeder buses was a brand new way of thinking for Dublin City Services. Since the DUTC days, Dublin's City Bus Services were a series of radial routes all serving the city centre, with the odd exceptions such as the 18. These feeder routes would not penetrate the city centre but instead rely on the new DART service to ferry passengers to their eventual destinations.

CIE announced its feeder bus plan on the 17/1/1984 and indicated that feeder buses would link 19 Dublin Areas to the DART line using GAC KC-Class buses, thus extending the catchment area of the line to a potential 200,000 people. The 19 suburban areas were as follows:

  • Deansgrange, Cornelscourt, Galloping Green and Leopardstown to Blackrock Station.
  • Kill O' the Grange, Ballybrack, Sallynoggin and Loughlinstown to Dun Laoghaire.
  • Coolock, Ayrfield, Ard na Greine to Harmonstown Station.
  • Donaghmede and Grange Road to Raheny Station.
  • Offington, Malahide, Portmarnock and Baldoyle to Sutton Station.

The bus services were to run on 10-minute intervals, 5-minutes during peaks and 15-minutes off-peak. These areas are matched up to the actual DART feeder services as follows:

  • Deansgrange and Cornelscourt would be linked to Blackrock Station by the 113.
  • Galloping Green and Leopardstown would be linked to Blackrock Station by the 114.
  • Sallynoggin and Loughlinstown would be linked to Dun Laoghaire by the 111.
  • Ayrfield and Ard na Greina linked to Harmonstown by the 101.
  • Donaghmede and Grange Road linked to Raheny Station by the 101.
  • Malahide, Portmarnock and Baldoyle linked to Sutton Station by the 102.

These services would never operate at the frequency that was mentioned above. Only possibly the 101 and 111 could ever be classed as high frequency, but they never made a 5-minute service during the peak.

By February CIE were announcing feeder services to Belfield (to become 52) and a inter-station link (to become 90). Of note is the clear numbering system that emerged. At the time services were numbered up to 88, the order of the new services being:

  • 9-: DART Feeder City Centre Station Services.
  • 10-: DART Feeder North-Side Station Services.
  • 11-: DART Feeder South-Side Station Services.

Its interesting that the existing services that would be redisgnated DART feeder (Routes 59 and 88) were not mentioned in the initial press releases, or renumbered into this series. This might be due to them being existing services, or services that would not be high-frequency enough for fan-fare. The fact that Route 52 was not renumbered is even more confusing, given a City Centre to Sandymount service ceased the day before the DART feeder version of Route 52 was introduced. These two variants of Route 52 didn't share a single element of their routings, however driver and bus allocation transferred over which may indicate the rational for retaining the number, drivers retaining their marked-in status. As this article describes, union opposition to DART feeders was to plague their introduction.

The principle issue the unions had with the introduction of the feeder buses was the effect they would have on the services which ran in parallel with current radial services. The Trade Unions saw such measures as killing-off existing Two-Person-Operated routes. This was CIE's plan too; existing services, where feeder buses were to be introduced over part of their routes, would be reduced in service levels.

An example, which was oft-quoted in the press at the time, was CIE's plan for Routes 7 and 8. This would see the then 25-vehicle allocation on these routes cut down to 15. Of these 15 buses, seven would be utilised in providing the feeder buses while only eight would provide a through-service. Also published at this time was an indication that Routes 7 and 8 were the first for the trial, with suggestions that Route 46A would also obtain similar treatment in the future. Its hard to consider such a limited service on what's easily the city's flagship service.

An account of the trade union issues regarding the introduction of the DART Feeder services will be well covered in a future article on one-person operation (OPO) buses, an issue which the introduction of DART feeder services got caught up in. The DART itself began on the 23rd July 1984, but due to the trade union issues within Dublin City Services, it was a further 18 months after the introduction of the DART service before the first feeder buses were introduced on the 2nd February 1986, with the introduction of new routes 52, 101 and 111, and the transition of existing routes 59 and 88 to DART feeder status. Expansion of these services continued till the autumn of 1987 with Routes 102, 103, 113 and 114 being introduced.

The fare system is interesting in that the train and bus services were fully integrated within the Dublin short-hop zone. Thus the ticket purchased on the bus entitles you to travel on the train to your destination (for example you can board Route 111 in Sallynoggin and pay to travel to Howth). For the most part, this meant that there was no extra cost for using the DART feeder service over the cost of the train to the station as they predominately served the same fare zone as their station (i.e. bus and train fare was the same in the original CIE system).

However certain situations arose where this was not the case. One such case, used by CIE as an example, was Route 52. If you boarded a feeder bus at Redesdale Road headed for the city, the standard bus fare was 85p. However, if you boarded the DART service at Sydney Parade the fare was 60p (note: 1986 prices). This was 25p cheaper and hence you were required to purchase an 85p ticket.

In the end, the visions that CIE had of 60% of DART passengers transferring onto/from DART feeder services was a misjudged conception. None of the DART feeder services were successful, however it should be noted that the plan as CIE envisaged was never implemented. The unions succeeded in reducing the cut-backs on parallel trunk route services (such as the 7 and the 8), the feeder buses never operated to the frequency specified in the plan, and, most importantly, the system of feeder buses never seemlessly integrated with the DART service as they do in other countries were hub and spoke systems work effectively.

Instead the feeder buses ran to their own schedule, buses were not timetabled to meet certain trains and therefore would not wait for a particular DART service to arrive. Such timetabling would have allowed passengers to plan their journeys as a whole, with seamless interchange between the two modes of transport. With competing radial services to the city, the option of waiting for a feeder bus, travelling to the station and then potentially a 15 to 20min wait at the station for a train to the city, was never going to be an effective product versus the single journey bus service.

By mid-1988, Route 88 became the first service to be withdrawn. By the end of 1989, Route 113 was gone whiles Routes 59 and 103 lost their DART feeder designation. The 101 would go in 2001, leaving just Routes 90 (only a morning peak-hour service nowadays), 102, 111 (morning and evening peaks only nowadays), and 114 as the only remaining DART feeder services. The DART feeders finally bowed out with the introduction of the Leap90 smartcard on the 11th June 2014 with absolutely no fanfare. How different this was to the hopeful introduction of these services 28 years earlier.

N.B. This website is not affiliated with Dublin Bus. The information contained herein is intended for enthusiast reference. For all current timetable and route information please refer to the official Dublin Bus Website.