Southern Orbital Feature:
This feature looks at the introduction of phase 5b of the city wide Bus Connects plan on the 26th November 2023 introducing routes S2, S4, S6, S8, W2, L25, L55, 44D and 74, replacing routes 17, 17D, 18, 61, 75, 75A, 76, 76A and 175. The booklet for this round of introductions can be found here. Phase 5a was implemented on the 25th June introducing Routes W4, W61 and W62. The original intention was to implement all these routes in one phase but given the scale of the changes and issues in recruiting new drivers for the expansion in services, it was decided to implement in two phases.
The launch of the S2 brings a southern orbital service back to Dublin Bus, albeit its routing does bring it very close to the very centre of the city. The S2 departs from Irishtown (Sean Moore Road) where a large amount of high-rise residential properties are under construction on the old glass bottle site. From there it proceeds to the former Route 18 terminus at Newgrove Avenue, following the former Route 18 through Ballsbridge, Ranelagh, Rathmines, Kennilworth and Kimmage to the Sundrive Road. Instead of turing into Crumlin and proceeding towards Ballyfermot, the new S2 continues straight ahead serving Herberton Road, Rialto, James Hospital, James Street, Bridge Street and the quays to Hueston Station. It thus serves some of Route 17's former territory around Crumlin/Rialto, albeit in a more direct way. A 15-min service is provided which compares favourably to the 20-min base frequency previously provided by Route 18.
What lacks direct-ness is its routing between James Hospital and Heuston Station. The convoluted routing contrasts that of the Luas but sharing Steven's Lane and corresponding works required to get the service into Heuston have proven a step too far. Though its a great boon for passengers destined for Thomas Street or the city quays, this routing provides temporary connections that will be broken long term and will restrict the growth of passengers from Heuston, with the S2 taking significantly more time from Heuston Station to James Street than it would take to walk. It should be noted however, that although the link to Heuston is convoluted, it is at least a step forward on a plan to have a service linking Rialto/Crumlin with Heuston, a plan that had been originally developed in the early 70s to join up both sides of Route 17 at this location.
Go-Ahead's 11550 is seen operating the new S4 route at Liffey Valley on its first day of service, the 26th November 2023. Note that unlike the other stops in the Liffey Valley interchange, Stop 7884 had not yet been updated to show S4 (click on photo for larger version).
The S4 is the highest frequency route introduced in this round, having a base 10-min frequency. It operates from Liffey Valley SC towards Cherry Orchard Hospital where it joins the former 18 route through Ballyfermot. With the loss of the 76 in this round, the S4 is the principal service from Ballyfermot into Liffey Valley so a 10min frequency is most appropriate. It then follows the former 18 route down the Kylemore Road, Long Mile Road and Drimnagh Road to St. Agnes Church. There it continues straight ahead, as opposed to the former Route 18 which turned left into Crumlin, joining the former Route 17 via the Ashleif, Kimmage Road West, Terenure Road West into Terenure. It deviates from the 17, which turned right towards Rathfarnham, instead continuing straight ahead into Rathgar and then serving Highfield Road, the first route to operate along this road. It turns right towards Dartry and the Nine-Arches at Milltown, following the 142 routing via Bath Avenue towards UCD. Unlike the 142 which uses Wynnsward Drive into UCD, the S4 heads around by the Sports Centre complex, utilising a narrow and non-traffic lighted junction with the Clonskeagh Road. It proceeds through Belfield serving the 142 terminus in both directions to the main Belfield bus terminus where it terminates.
The routing via the Nine-Arches and its close proximity to Milltown Luas stop provides a very useful connection between UCD and the Green Line. The routing of a service through the middle of UCD (from the 142 terminus to the 39A terminus) is to be commended, something that was lost in the 1980s (originally the 17 came in off Wynnsward Drive and out Owenstown Park gate). The routing out through the sports centre gate is concerning for time-keeping as traffic will build up there given, unlike Wynnsward Drive, there are no traffic lights. The Wynnsward Drive gate is closed outside of college hours, hence the unplanned deviation.
The S6 is a combination of a few former orbital services operating from The Square Tallaght to Blackrock Station. From The Square it operates as per former Route 75 to Nutgrove Avenue, then whereas the 75 headed south towards Ballinteer, the S6 continues along Nutgrove Avenue as per former Route 17 to the Churchtown Road. Whereas Route 17 would turn north onto the Dundrum Road, the S6 continues straight ahead onto Taney Road and Mount Anville Road as per former Route 175, heading into UCD Belfield via the Owenstown Park gate. It exits UCD heading to Blackrock Station as per Route 17. A base 15-min service is provided, a doubling on the former sections of routes 75 and 175, while also an improvement on the base 20min frequency of Route 17. It is a very direct service from Tallaght to UCD, quite different from the 17 and 75 it replaces which were orbitals of an older era when less traffic allowed for meandering routes.
The S8 is a replacement of the former 175, and maintains a link between Dun Laoghaire and Tallaght albeit via a very different route to the former 75. It also adds Sandyford Industrial Estate to a high-frequency cross-city service having previously only being served by peak hour Route 75A. The S8 operates from the former 175 terminus at Kingswood Avenue in Citywest to the former 75 Dun Laoghaire Station terminus. From Citywest it follows the former 175 route to Marlay Park with one difference; from Citywest it follows the main Citywest Road out onto the Blessington Road rather than serving Fortunestown Way and Fortunestown Lane. Fortunestown Lane is now served by the W62, while the Tallaght Leisure Centre end of Fortunestown Way, uniquely served by Route 175 is now unserved (albeit a close walk to other services). From Marlay Park the S8 follows Route 16 past the Brehon Field Road terminus joining the M50 relief roads between the Dundrum and Sandyford M50 exits. The S8 becomes the first service to operate along the road heading east, while the westbound road has had the one-way only 46N for a number of years.
It then utilises the Drummartin Link Road to access Sandyford Industrial Estate operating then as the 114 to Newtownpark Avenue, with one subtle difference; it serves the Sandyford Luas stop in both directions. This is a positive move, albeit the one-way system in the estate does make it awkward. It continues along Newtownpark Avenue serving the section previously only served by the one-way peak hour only 46E and then heads towards Blackrock on Temple Hill. The map shows the bus turning right onto Monkstown Road, but this is an illigal turn, so though heading towards Citywest the map is correct, heading to Dun Laoghaire the buses proceed along Temple Road and perform a u-turn using the triangle of roads at Frank Keane's BMW dealership in Blackrock. This is a significant detour given its a traffic blackspot and no stops are served. From the Monkstown Road the S8 follows the 7/7A route to Crofton Road (Dun Laoghaire Station). It is the least frequent of the orbital routes with a 20-min base frequency provided, increasing to 15mins at peak times and reducing to 30mins for the evenings and on a Sunday.
Go-Ahead's 11584 is seen passing the Frank Keane BMW dealership on Temple Road performing the detour needed to access Monkstown Road on the first day of operation, the 26th November 2023 (click on photo for larger version).
The W2 is a direct replacement of Route 76 between The Square, Tallaght, and Liffey Valley Shopping Centre. Unlike the former Route 76, the route does not continue on to serve Ballyfermot and Chapelizod, instead the high-frequency S4 can be transferred to for Ballyfermot, while the 26 offers a direct link to Chapelizod from Liffey Valley. The W2 offers a higher frequency service than the former 76 with a 15-min base frequency.
Go-Ahead's 11509 is seen operating the W2 at its Tallaght Square terminus on the first day of operation, the 26th November 2023. Note that the bus departs from the middle island as all W-route buses from the Square do (click on photo for larger version).
The L25 is a local service from Dun Laoghaire Station to Dundrum, two places formerly linked by Route 75. From Dun Laoghaire it operates as per Route 75 to York Road. It then turns onto Mounttown Road Upper (which last had a service in 2016 before Route 8 was cancelled), continuing onto Monkstown Avenue and past the 4 terminus. It proceeds as per Route 4 through the TK roundabout. From the TK rounabout it follows Route 7B through the new roads along Rowanbynn and Fleurville onto Stillorgan Park Road. It continues straight onto the Lower Kilmacud Road where it rejoins the former Route 75 at Stillorgan Shopping Centre, following its routing towards Dundrum via Kilmacud Road Upper. It heads in the back-way to Dundrum past the Balally Luas Stop, Sandyford Road and Main Street to a new terminus outside the old Dundrum Shopping Centre on the by-pass.
As Dundrum Main Street is one-way northbound, the L25 departs its terminus and continues south along the by-pass where there are two further stops, utilising Wyckham Way to finish a one way loop back to Balally where from it continues along the same routing back to Dun Laoghaire. The L25 is a very frequent local-service with a base frequency of every 15mins. It opens up areas of south Blackrock that have been solely reliant on peak-hour only services. One major location missed that was previously served by the 75 is DLIADT. One can use the 46A from there to join the new L25 at Stillorgan but with the 46A already over-subscribed since the loss of the VT class allocation, it will be interesting to see if loadings prove a challenge for commuters.
The L55 was the surprise of the announcement of Phase 5b in that it hadn't appeared in any of the original Bus Connects plan. It operates from the Old Lucan Road terminus of former Route 18 to the Chapelizod (West County Hotel) terminus of former Route 76. It had originally been intended that these termini would be lost with the introduction of Bus Connects. It preserves both these areas links with Ballyfermot and seems a much better idea than the original concept of routing Route 80 (current Route 26) via the Old Lucan Road over a very short distance, which hopefully will not occur now. An hourly service is provided utilising one bus from 7am to 9pm, which is generally allocated a single-deck.
The 74 is a new route from Eden Quay to Dundrum Luas. It replaces sections of Route 17 and 61 but is a service that resembles neither too much. From Eden Quay the bus proceeds across Rosie Hackett Bridge, stopping on Burgh Quay with the G-spine. It operates as per the G-Spine out of the city including the contra-flow bus lane on Winetavern Street. It proceeds straight onto Nicholas Street and turns right onto The Coombe from Patrick Street. This is the first route the follow the city routing of the D-Spine. It proceeds out St Lukes Avenue onto Cork Street past the Coombe Hospital. At Dolphin's Barn it joins onto the former Route 17 at Crumlin Road maintaining a link between the Crumlin Road and the Crumlin Housing estate (Bangor Circle). It is interesting that the 17 itself replaced a city route (Route 82) which also did the same, so this section has come full circle. It proceeds around Bangor Circle in the same way as Route 17 but instead of following the former Route 17 via St Agnes' Church, the bus turns off Armagh Road onto Cashel Road, and then Ravensdale Park to access the Kimmage Road Lower. This section of road has been unserved since the 55 was withdrawn in 1994, and given the very large Leo Pharma factory along this section is a good re-addition to the network.
From Kimmage Road Lower the bus turns left at the KCR, rejoining the former Route 17 towards Terenure and Rathfarnham. The 74 maintains a link to Rathfarnham from the KCR given the S4 orbital continues from Terenure to Rathgar rather than following the former Route 17. At the Yellow House in Rathfarnham, the 74 takes up the former 61 route down the Ballyboden Road, Taylors Lane and into Whitechurch estate. Instead of terminating, the route loops back out and continues back along Taylors Lane, Grange Road and Brehon Field Road past the 16 terminus. From there it serves a previously unnserved section of the Ballinteer Road, utilising Wyckham Way, Sandyford Road and Dundrum Main Street to terminate at the Luas Interchange. The buses return towards Ballinteer Road via the Dundrum By-Pass. The 74 had originally been meant to have two different termini to what was implemented at the last minute. In Dundrum, it was to terminate on the By-Pass along with the L25, but it was decided to terminate it at the old 44B terminus stop pushing the 44B out onto the new by-pass stop. In the city it was meant to terminate at Poolbeg Street but with ongoing works there, it was decided to utilise the former 61 terminus on Eden Quay. A 30-min base frequency is provided by Route 74.
The introduction of Phase 5b has meant the withdrawal of Route 17. This variant of the 17 has its origin in sea-side Sunday services from the late 1960s, with the route formally introduced as a proper service in 1970. The 17 is replaced by the S6 between Blackrock Station and UCD, the S4 links UCD with Bird Avenue, albeit avoiding Fosters Avenue and Roebuck Road, the S6 also serves the section between Terenure and St Agnes Church Crumlin, while Rialto and Sundrive Road are linked by the S2, albeit directly via Herberton Road. The 17D was a lesser used number for shorts to and from Dundrum.
The introduction of Phase 5b meant the withdrawal of Route 18. The 18 was the original orbital route, being introduced as a horse-tramway in 1898 and was known as the "cross-tram". It was extended numerous times, most importantly from Kimmage to Ballyfermot in 1969. It is replaced by 3 services, the S2 from Sandymount to Kimmage, the S4 from St Agnes Church to Cherry Orchard Hospital and the L55 from Ballyfermot to the Old Lucan Road. There is no direct connection between the S2 and the S4 though utilising the Crumlin Road routes is one way to connect.
Route 61 was also withdrawn as a result of Phase 5b. In the announcements, Route 74 was mentioned as its replacement, but the 74 and the 61 share very little in common other than they both serve Whitechurch Estate and Ballyboden Road. The Dundrum Road, especially, now relies on the infrequent Route 44, while Ranelagh already a poorly bus-served inner section of Dublin loses yet another service to the city. The plans for Ranelagh will see a 15-min frequency through Ranelagh with Routes 86, 87 and 88, but not until the final phase of Bus Connects which is many years away. With a significant amount of social housing being constructed on the site of the former Mental Hospital along the Dundrum Road, the loss of both the 17 and the 61 along this stretch is a bit of an oversight. The 161 relaunch also comes in this final phase, so given all this it would have seemed more logical if the 61 had have survived to this final phase.
There have been some piecemeal filling of gaps. Peak hour Monday-Friday there is a new 44D via the Dundrum Road to the city (2 inbound, 1 outbound departure). The 161 now also has a few extra departures to fill in for former services to Rockbrook.
The 75 (The Square Tallaght to Dun Laoghaire Station) was also withdrawn with Phase 5b. This version of Route 75 dates back to 1990, an instant success showcasing the power of orbital routes. A few months after introduction, also in 1990, services via Sandyford Industrial Estate were introduced. When Go-Ahead acquired the operation of the service in 2018, they renumbered those services Route 75A which also bowed out with Phase 5b.
Route 76 is directly replaced by the W2 between Tallaght and Liffey Valley Shopping Centre. The section between Liffey Valley and Chapelizod is not served by the W2 but connections with the S4 or 26 fill this loss. As part of these changes, Route 76A (Blanchardstown Shopping Centre to Tallaght) was also lost. Given it was a Monday-Friday service, this last operated on the 24th Novmber 2023. With the launch of the 7-day, all day W4, this peak-hour variant of the 76 had lost a lot of its need. Between Liffey Valley and Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, the W4 was much quicker as it avoided Ballyfermot. The connection between the S4 and W4 requires a walk across a footbridge to access the N4, a footbridge which is due an upgrade as part of the Bus Connects plan.
Route 175, the first Go-Ahead operated service in Dublin back in September 2018, has also been withdrawn as part of Phase 5b. Its direct replacements are the S8 from Citywest to Ballinteer, while the S6 operates from Dundrum to UCD. The link between Grange Road (Marlay Park) and Dundrum is maintained by the 74. In all cases the services provide an upgrade on the former 175 frequency, especially at weekends when the 175 only operated every hour.