Bus Éireann

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Bus Éireann
Bus Éireann VDL Futura Double Decker working a 115 Service from Dublin Connolly to Kilcock
ParentCóras Iompair Éireann
Founded2 February 1987; 36 years ago (1987-02-02)
HeadquartersBroadstone, Dublin
Service areaIreland
Service typeBus & coach services
Fleet1,200 (January 2018)
Fuel typeDiesel
NGV (Trial)
Chief executiveStephen Kent
WebsiteBusÉireann.ie Expressway

Bus Éireann (Irish pronunciation: [ˌbˠɔsˠ ˈeːɾʲən̪ˠ]; "Irish Bus") is a state-owned bus and coach operator providing services throughout Ireland, with the exception of Dublin and the Greater Dublin Area, where bus services are provided by sister company Dublin Bus. It is a subsidiary of Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ). The company's primary hub is Busáras, Central Bus Station, located in Store Street, Central Dublin.


Bus Éireann Logo 1987–2000
Bus Éireann Logo 2000–2007

Bus Éireann was established in February 1987 when it was split out from Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ).[1] The logo of Bus Éireann incorporates a red Irish Setter, a breed of dog that originated in Ireland.

During 2016, it was reported that Bus Éireann amassed losses of around €6 million and that these losses were set to rise throughout 2017. As a result, Shane Ross, TD, Ireland's Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, mentioned the company "faces insolvency within 18 months".[2] Bus Éireann concluded an all out strike on Thursday 13 April that lasted since Friday 24 March 2017.[3]

The company terminated all X1 services to Newry and Belfast due to financial problems. Expressway still serves the six county area (Northern Ireland) on routes X/30, X/32 and 64.[citation needed] The company does not run any services on Christmas Day.


Bus Éireann's main services in Ireland but they also provide services to Northern Ireland in association with Ulsterbus include: expressway (intercity), commuter, local and school services. Additional services within Ireland include city services in Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford and town services in Athlone, Balbriggan, Drogheda, Dundalk, Navan and Sligo.

Bus Éireann operates international services to Great Britain and Europe, that are also provided via the ports at Dublin and Rosslare Europort. Cities served include London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. These are operated under the Eurolines brand.

During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2022 it was noted that Bus Éireann had been the only bus company to continue operating long-distance routes in the country. Speaking to the BBC, the general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) Dermot O'Leary noted that as the majority of the Irish population stayed at home, the market for commercial companies to make profits on their normal routes ceased overnight, and they subsequently paused operations. As a result, "essential workers [reliant on public transport] could not have gone into hospitals, doctor's surgeries, pharmacies" were it not for Bus Éireann.[4] Bus Éireann also provided the only bus connection between Athlone and the cities of Galway and Dublin for a period in 2020 when private companies such as Citylink temporarily suspended services.[5]


‘Expressway’ is a division of Bus Éireann that provides intercity services throughout the country serving most of the main airports and cities in Ireland.

It is a commercial part of the company which, unlike the local and city services, does not receive government funding to operate.

Service expansion[edit]

A Bus Éireann Wright Gemini 3 operating service 103 in Dublin, September 2017

The National Development Plan included a large expansion in commuter services, especially in the Greater Dublin Area, and so the company greatly increased services on routes such as Dublin/Drogheda/Dundalk, Dublin/Ashbourne, Dublin/Ratoath, Dublin/Dunshaughlin/Navan/Kells/Cavan.[6]

Bus Éireann has also introduced regular clockface schedules on popular Expressway routes, such as hourly services on the routes Dublin/Athlone/Galway, Tralee/Killarney/Cork/Waterford, Cork/Limerick/Shannon Airport/Galway.

At the time of the establishment of the company in February 1987, there were no bus services between Dublin and Belfast. The Dublin/Dublin Airport/Newry/Belfast route was initiated soon after and came to be jointly operated by Bus Éireann and Ulsterbus. Reasons for the routes expansion in the 1990s and 2000s included the economic boom in the Republic, known as the Celtic Tiger; the Northern Ireland peace process which helped boost the economy there, and the rise of the low-cost airline industry, which greatly increased the numbers of people flying in and out of Dublin Airport from both sides of the border. By the 2000s the route operated an hourly service, each way, from 06:00 to 21:00 daily. In October 2006, further services were introduced on the route, departing at 01:00, 03:00, 05:00, and 23:00, thus establishing the route as the first "24-hour inter-city bus service" in the country.[7] In November 2020 the service was suspended indefinitely by Bus Éireann[4] although private companies continue to offer bus services between the two cities.[8] These include Aircoach route 705X (01:30-22:30)[9] and Dublin Coach route 400 (05:30-20:30).[10]

A similar service to the Dublin-Belfast route was implemented on route 2 between Dublin Airport and Wexford, which started on 18 January 2009. Services departed Dublin Airport for Wexford on the hour from 05:00 to 23:00, with services during the night at 01:00 and 03:00.[11] As of May 2022, no services exist on this route now between the hours of 00:00 and 06:00.[12]

As with the Dublin/Belfast route, the Dublin/Derry route is also jointly operated. On 4 September 2006, a new timetable on the Dublin/Derry route was launched, increasing the service level up to nine trips per day, including night-time services.

In 2008 Bus Éireann stated that they also intended to develop similar services to the 24-hour Dublin-Belfast route on the following routes: Donegal-Dublin, Ballina-Dublin, Sligo-Dublin and Drogheda-Balbriggan-Dublin Airport-Dublin.[7] Due to the post-2008 economic downturn in Ireland these plans were never realised. On 20 January 2009, Bus Éireann announced that it was to let 320 staff go and withdraw 150 buses due to the economic crisis. Some services were permanently withdrawn or reduced due to the cutbacks.[13]

In November 2020 Bus Éireann suspended its Dublin to Belfast service, route X1, along with its Expressway services linking Dublin to Cork (route X8), Galway (routes 20 and X20) and Limerick (route X12).[5][4] The board of the company announced it had taken the decision to end these commercial services, as they were losing money, in order to protect core routes.[4] The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was also cited as a reason for the suspension.[14][8] Galway-Roscommon TD Claire Kerrane criticised the decision, highlighting the negative impact it would have on passengers who had relied on it in Aughrim, Ballinasloe and Athlone at a time when people were being encouraged to move back to such towns from the cities.[5]


Bus Éireann introduced a number of Dublin 'Nightrider' services in the early 2000s, offering special Friday and Saturday night buses for people departing the city centre to return to locations in the Greater Dublin Area. Over busy periods, the Nightrider could also be extended to operate six days a week, Mon-Sat (observed during the Christmas 2005 period), offering late-night transport options to the towns of Newbridge, Drogheda, Navan, Enfield and Wicklow.[15] The route numbers on the Nightrider services were suffixed with an 'N' to denote their night status.

  • Route 101N operated from Dublin to Drogheda via Dublin Airport, Swords, Balrothery, Balbriggan, Gormanston Cross and Julianstown. The service left Dublin at 00:30 and 03:30 each Friday and Saturday night.[16] At some point after the year 2013, the route was scrapped as the regular route 101 began to operate on a 24-hours a day basis, with the largest gap between departures being those at 01:30, 03:30 and 05:30.[17]
  • Route 109N operated from Dublin to Kells via Dublin Airport, Ashbourne, Ratoath, Dunshaughlin and Navan. On 30 May 2017, Bus Éireann announced it would be discontinuing the route. They did however notify that an alternative service was available on route 109A which operates hourly throughout the night, 7 days per week, 364 days per year.[18] Route 109A operates hourly between 00:30-05:30 whilst the daytime route 109 is inactive.[19]
  • Route 126N operated from Dublin to Newbridge via Heuston Station, Inchicore, Newlands Cross, Citywest, Rathcoole Junction, Kill Junction and Naas. The service left Dublin at 00.30 and 03:30 each Friday and Saturday night. On 19 November 2018, Bus Éireann announced the termination of the route[20] noting that costs to run the service were not being covered due to insufficient passenger numbers and it had been loss-making for some time.[21] The operation of the daytime route 126 remained unaffected, but the last departure now left from Dublin at the earlier time of 23.00.[22] In early December 2019 Go-Ahead Ireland took over operation of the route,[23] and reinstated late night departures from the city. As of May 2022, route 126 caters for late-night passengers by departing from Connolly station (Mon-Sat) at the times of 00:05, 01:05 and 03:35.[24]
  • Route 133N operated from Dublin to Wicklow town, incorporating the towns of Kilmacanogue, Newtownmountkennedy, Newcastle, Ashford and Rathnew. The service left Dublin at 00.30 and 03:00 each Friday and Saturday night.[25] In October 2008, Bus Éireann cancelled the service, mentioning that the route was no longer commercially viable.[25] Others blamed the poor passenger numbers on the lack of adequate promotion or advertisement on the part of Bus Éireann with many people not even knowing the service existed.[25]

The Nightrider service was also extended to Cork city and its environs during Christmas and other high-capacity events such as the Cork Jazz Festival.[26] The service was also extended to Galway city for a time in 2008, departing Eyre Square at 01:30 for Moycullen, 02.30 for Spiddal and 03.30 for the towns of Oranmore and Claregalway.[27] In December 2010 during a period of cold weather, Nightrider services from Dublin to Drogheda, Meath and Kildare were cancelled due to icy conditions.[28]

Tourism services[edit]

Bus Éireann operates special one-day sightseeing tours from Dublin to locations such as Glendalough, Newgrange; from Cork, day tours to the Ring of Kerry, County Clare, West Cork, and Cape Clear Island; and from Galway, tours of Connemara and the Burren.

Real-time passenger information[edit]

RTPI is being run by the National Transport Authority under the brand Transport for Ireland, a single portal providing information on public transport in Ireland.

Real-time information is available across the majority of Bus Éireann's services. The service provides up-to-the-minute information regarding the arrival of a bus at a specific stop. It is calculated using the GPS location of a bus and estimated and changed with current traffic conditions. Real-time information is available to passengers on the Bus Éireann website and also via the Real Time Ireland App.

Many stops across Ireland have real-time information available at bus stops that allows the customer to see exactly when the bus will actually arrive.


Parnell Place bus station in Cork

Bus Éireann's bus stations have been upgraded in many locations around the country.[citation needed] The prime example is Cork bus station, located at Parnell Place in the city centre, which was remodelled as part of the city's preparation for being European Capital of Culture, 2005.

Other new bus stations include Sligo, Waterford and Letterkenny.


Bus Éireann has had a few fatal incidents, with those involving school buses being particularly scrutinised. After the death of five schoolgirls in a fatal accident in County Meath in 2005 involving a 1993 DAF MB230/Van Hool (ex-front line expressway) school bus. All school buses are fitted with seatbelts since 31 October 2011.[29]

Some non-fatal incidents have also been quite serious, for example, an off-duty bus plunging into the River Liffey in Dublin, after a collision with another vehicle.

The company has also posted notices to encourage orderly queuing at bus stops after a series of incidents where pedestrians on the footpath were struck on the head by the wing mirrors of city buses.

Natural gas buses[edit]

Bus Éireann introduced the first NGV on 17 July 2012 in Cork. It operated on the 216 (Cork University Hospital - Cork City Centre - Mount Oval) route until mid-August 2012 on a trial that was undertaken in partnership with Ervia. The Eco-city bus was made by MAN.[30]


VDL Berkhof Axial outside Dublin Connolly station in July 2012

As of January 2018, the fleet consists of 1,200 buses and coaches.[31] The company mainly uses buses built by firms such as Scania, VDL Berkhof and Volvo. Bus Éireann's fleet has been substantially invested in as part of the National Development Plan. The vast majority of the operating fleet for expressway, commuter, and local services are now five years old or less.[citation needed]

Bus Scoile[edit]

Bus Scoile logo
Bus Scoile buses in Thurles depot

Bus Éireann operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of the Department of Education and Science. County Meath VEC assists Bus Éireann in administering the service in County Meath to all second-level schools.[32] Bus Éireann is responsible for planning routes, employing bus drivers, collecting fares and ensuring compliance with safety regulations and insurance.

The 'Schools' services are mostly operated by cascaded second-hand ex-frontline vehicles. Due to recent regulations regarding seatbelts, all dated and unsuited vehicles were withdrawn and replaced with second-hand vehicles (mainly from the UK). From 2006 to 2016 Bus Éireann has been purchasing brand new buses from BMC, Euro Coach Builders Donegal, Alexander Dennis and TAM Motors Slovenia in 2016.

A number of the routes are outsourced to local bus companies such as Dunshaughlin Coach Hire, Jerry Ryan, O'Rourkes, Bernard Kavanaghs, Bartons, and James Mullally Coach Hire.

Longford bus station has some ex-Dublin Bus school vehicles that are used on Bus Éireann services.


  1. ^ Córas Iompair Éireann Archived 5 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine Steve Johnson's Railway Pages
  2. ^ "Bus Éireann 'faces insolvency within 18 months'". Rte.ie. 10 January 2017. Archived from the original on 20 May 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Bus Éireann strike to continue and may escalate". Irishtimes.com. Archived from the original on 5 November 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Bus Éireann suspends Dublin to Belfast service, BBC, 28 September 2020, retrieved 9 May 2022
  5. ^ a b c Cusack, Adrian (26 July 2021). "Bus Éireann to end its Athlone services to Dublin and Galway this week". Westmeath Independent. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
  6. ^ The National Development Plan Archived 15 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine Bus Éireann
  7. ^ a b Ireland's First 24 Hour Inter-City Archived 11 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine Inside Government
  8. ^ a b Hughes, Brendan (29 September 2020). "Bus Éireann to suspend Dublin-Belfast service due to Covid-19 pressures". The Irish News. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  9. ^ Route 705X (Express): Belfast to Dublin Airport & Dublin City Centre, Aircoach, retrieved 10 May 2022
  10. ^ Route 400 M1 Express: Dublin ↔ Belfast Direct, Dublin Coach, retrieved 10 May 2022
  11. ^ Bus Éireann serving Dublin Airport from Rosslare Archived 14 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Bus Éireann 16 January 2009
  12. ^ Expressway Route 2-X2 Timetable, Wexford - Dublin Airport, Bus Éireann, retrieved 9 May 2022
  13. ^ 320 jobs to go at Bus Éireann Archived 5 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine RTÉ News 20 January 2009
  14. ^ Wall, Martin (30 September 2020). "Bus Éireann to suspend Dublin to Belfast service in November". Irish Times. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  15. ^ Luas to run late for Christmas, RTÉ, 2 December 2005, retrieved 9 May 2022
  16. ^ Bus Éireann Route 101N timetable Archived 25 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Bus Éireann Route 101 Timetable, Dublin - Drogheda, Bus Éireann, retrieved 9 May 2022
  18. ^ Route 109N: Dublin – Dunshaughlin – Navan Nightrider, Bus Éireann, 30 May 2017, retrieved 9 May 2022
  19. ^ Bus Éireann Route 109A, Dublin Airport/City Centre - Ashbourne - Ratoath - Dunshaughlin - Navan - Kells, Bus Éireann, retrieved 9 May 2022
  20. ^ Kinsella, Carl (19 November 2018). "Bus Éireann cancel Nightrider Service from Dublin to Kildare". joe.ie. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  21. ^ Kinsella, Rudi (20 November 2018). "Bus Éireann announce late service to Kildare for Fridays and Saturdays". joe.ie. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  22. ^ Lyne, Laura (20 November 2018). "Bus Eireann announces cancellation of Nightrider service between Dublin and Newbridge via Naas". Dublin Live. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  23. ^ "Go-Ahead awarded Dublin Commuter Routes" Coach & Bus Week issue 1334 20 March 2018 page 8
  24. ^ 126 Timetable. Rathangan – Kildare – Naas – Dublin, Go-Ahead Ireland, 17 April 2022, retrieved 9 May 2022
  25. ^ a b c Nightrider service was losing money says Bus Eireann, Irish Independent, 9 October 2008, retrieved 9 May 2022
  26. ^ Smyth, Brian T. (28 October 2016). "Bus Éireann Nightrider Services for the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival". The Cork. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  27. ^ Ni Fhlatharta, Bernie (11 January 2008). "BUS EIREANN TIMETABLE FOR GALWAY NIGHTRIDER ANNOUNCED". Connacht Tribune. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  28. ^ O'Brien, Tim (23 December 2010). "Extra flights at Dublin airport to help clear backlog". Irish Times. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  29. ^ Safety Belts on Buses Archived 25 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine Road Safety Authority
  30. ^ Natural gas bus hits the streets in bid to cut fuel bill Archived 10 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine Irish Examiner 17 July 2012
  31. ^ Our Fleet Archived 10 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine Bus Éireann
  32. ^ School Transport Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Meath VEC

External links[edit]