Dublin Bus

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Dublin Bus
Dublin Bus Logo.jpg
Dublin Bus PA Class.jpg
ParentCóras Iompair Éireann
Founded2 February 1987; 35 years ago (1987-02-02)
HeadquartersO'Connell Street Upper, Dublin
Service areaDublin
Service typeUrban Bus services
Fleet1,016 (2019)
Fuel typeDiesel and Hybrid Technology
Chief executiveRay Coyne

Dublin Bus (Irish: Bus Átha Cliath) is a State-owned bus operator providing services in Dublin. By far the largest bus operator in the city, it carried 138 million passengers in 2019.[1] It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Córas Iompair Éireann.[2][3]


Original logo from 1987 to 2000
Dublin Bus logo 2000–2007
Alexander bodied Leyland Olympian in March 1994
Alexander bodied Volvo Olympian in May 2003
Alexander ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL in August 2006
Line up at Ringsend depot in May 2010
TFI liveried Wright Gemini 3. This new colour scheme was introduced for all NTA/TFI services in 2021

Dublin Bus was established on 2 February 1987, when Córas Iompair Éireann was split into 3 subsidiaries, Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Irish Rail.[4] In September 2011, Dublin Bus received a significant technological upgrade with its introduction of real time passenger information.[5]


Dublin Bus operates an extensive network of 110 radial, cross-city and peripheral routes and 18 night routes in the city of Dublin and the Greater Dublin Area. The company carries around 325,000 people each day.[6] The main radial routes are focused upon Dublin's sixteen Quality Bus Corridors which provide buses with prioritised access, daytime on some routes, 24 hours on others, to the city centre. Express buses (branded "Xpresso") operate on similar routes but have a limited number of stops and a higher minimum fare. These services run Monday to Friday at peak times and do not operate on public holidays.

Typical Dublin Bus stop in Leixlip.

Dublin Bus also runs a Ghost Bus Tour passing some of the supposedly haunted places in the city including St Kevin's Church and St Audoen's Church.[7] The tour usually runs in the evening time and includes two stops where passengers leave the bus behind and visit locations where ghosts have allegedly been seen.[8]

In April 2010, Dublin Bus announced it would be simplifying many of its routes around the city in order to create better efficiency. This programme was called Network Direct. However, as part of these measures, the company also announced that 150 jobs would be lost.[9][10]

The RTPI system used by Dublin Bus, pictured at Liffey Valley.

During the 2010s, Dublin Bus rolled out an RTPI system (Real Time Passenger Information) at certain stops, which shows the amount of time before a bus arrives directly to the user.[11]

In 2016, the company carried 125 million passengers, which was a reduction of 14% compared to 2005 numbers (first full year of the Luas, which has seen an increase of 33.6% passengers in the same period).[12][13][14]

Between September 2018 and March 2019, 24 Dublin Bus routes and 125 buses were progressively taken over by Go-Ahead Ireland after the National Transport Authority put their operation out to tender.;[15][16] however an equivalent number of new buses were provided to Dublin Bus to retain existing fleet numbers, with increased services and new routes or route variations introduced on the same day as Go-Ahead took over each route batch.


On 6 December 1991 Dublin Bus launched its first 'Nitelink' service aimed at facilitating Christmas revellers returning home from the city centre.[17] The trial service operated from 6 December 1991 to 4 January 1992 (except for certain holidays) on a Mon-Sun basis and cost a flat fare of £2 per person irrespective of how long or short their journey. Nitelink initially consisted of only four routes serving 12 suburban destinations in total with buses leaving on the hour every hour until 3am, from College Street, D'Olier Street and Westmoreland Street.[17] Nitelink is an express service, meaning passengers may only board the buses at the city centre termini and other select locations along the way, although they may disembark at any normal bus stop along the route. Upon completing the journey the buses return to the city centre without passengers.[17]

Over the years the Nitelink service increased to 18 routes overnight, and, until January 2009 ran between Monday and Saturday, with the greatest service frequency being on Friday and Saturday nights. Due to cutbacks necessitated by the 2008 economic downturn in Ireland, the midweek schedule was scrapped.[18] By 2014 there were 18 Nitelink routes running again.[19] Nitelink route 39N was discontinued on the 13 December 2020 when daytime route 39a began operating on a 24-hour schedule.[20][21]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nitelink services were paused between March 2020[22] and January 2022[23] with a brief respite between Fri 22 Oct 2021 and 19 December 2021 during which time services resumed. The service was halted again on Sun 19 December 2021 when an 8pm curfew was put in place on the hospitality industry due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. Dublin City Councillor Colm O’Rourke criticised the move, noting "the Nitelink isn’t just for clubbers. It is an important service to workers and anyone looking for a low-cost option to get home safe."[24] Nitelink services returned to full operating hours from Friday 28 January 2022.[23]

Currently as of 2022 the Nitelink service operates on Friday and Saturday nights only (technically the early hours of Saturday and Sunday) and consists of 13 separate routes that depart between the hours of 00:00 and 04:00 from the Dublin city centre locations of D’Olier Street, Westmoreland Street and Aston Quay.[25] Each of the route numbers are suffixed by the letter 'N' denoting their night status. Special (higher) fares apply on Nitelink buses than regular daytime bus services.[26]

24-hour services[edit]

In 2014 Dublin Bus began looking to expand their Nitelink network and also introduce a new all-night service in the city.[19] By late 2016, Dublin Bus 'Media and Communications Officer' Jennifer O’Brien stated that the company was looking at the possibility of introducing a 24-hour bus service in Dublin from 2017 in conjunction with the National Transport Authority on a phased basis.[27] Dublin City Councillor Ciarán Cuffe, who also chaired the council’s transport committee, said the city needed to look at extending the public-transport service at night noting that the last regular bus left the city at around 11:30pm each weeknight and the last Luas at around half past twelve, or midnight on Sundays.[27]

At midnight on 01 December 2019, routes 15[28] and 41[29] began operating on a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week basis with no difference in fare, marking the first time Dublin had a regular night bus service. These busses depart their terminals at intervals of 30 minutes between the hours of 11.30pm and 05:00am.[20][30] Announcing the change, the NTA CEO Anne Graham explained “The patterns of work and socialising have changed. For instance, the success in attracting to the city, major employers who are headquartered many time-zones away, serving markets around the world, means that commercial and economic activity in Dublin continues around the clock".[31]

Route 39a[32] began 24-hour operation on the 13 December 2020.[20][33] On 28 November 2021 the National Transport Authority began the rollout of its latest Dublin network with new C1-C4 routes serving the west of the city. The C1[34] and C2[35] services operate 24-hours a day, while the C3 and C4 buses turn into the C5[36] and C6[37] routes respectively at night, offering 24-hour services for commuters, except operate through Chapelizod instead of the Chapelizod bypass at night. The night-time routes operate every hour, starting between 11:36pm and 00:35am every night of the week, and ending at 4am when normal services commence.[38]

As part of BusConnects Phase 3, the latest 24-hour route - the N4 (Blanchardstown Shopping CentrePoint Village via Collins Avenue), came into operation on 29 May 2022.[39][40] Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said "This latest phase of the new network provides communities in these areas not just with increased frequency, but also a night service offering commuters 24-hour bus connections. This will enable more commuters to rely on public transport for all their needs and further reduce the need for cars on our roads.”[39]

Routes G1 and G2 (due to launch August 2022) will both be 24-hour routes, and the new daytime S8 orbital route, due to launch November 2022, has also been identified as a potential 24-hour route for future development.

In May 2022 Dublin Bus announced it was considering the expansion of a 24-hour service to include a route that serves Bray.[41] In his submission to the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications, Ray Coyne (Chief Executive of Dublin Bus) said “24/7 bus services are needed to deliver a truly all-day and all-night city [and] the broader economic needs of the city justify accelerating the introduction of 24/7 services on Routes such as 46a, 155 and others”.[41]


As part of the National Transport Authority’s 'BusConnects' network redesign in 2017 and 2018, Portland, Oregon-based consulting firm Jarrett Walker + Associates (JWA) were employed to review and completely redesign the daytime bus network in and around Dublin. The purpose of the network redesign was to improve network functionality and increase bus ridership in the Dublin Metropolitan Area, an area which encompasses over 1.4 million people over several counties. It was noted that the traditional Dublin Bus network was good for many radial routes (i.e. taking people from the suburbs into the city core) but lacked orbital accessibility (i.e. getting from suburb to suburb).[42] The initial network proposal was released for public consultation in summer 2018,[42] and the revised proposal was released for public comment by October 2019. The NTA began implementing the new network in stages, starting in 2021.[43] The company drew similarities between their proposed Dublin transport plan to that currently in place in Copenhagen, a city of comparable size and shape.[44] As part of their contract, Jarrett Walker + Associates were not tasked with the expanding of 24-hour and night-time bus services in Dublin, as this was a separate decision taken by the NTA without their involvement.

Phase 2 of the BusConnects Network Redesign launched on 28 November 2021 in West Dublin and East Kildare.[45] It involved the introduction of the C-Spine (C1, C2, C3, C4), route 52, eight peak-only routes (P29, X25, X26, X27, X28, X30, X31 and X32), six local routes (L51, L52, L53, L54, L58 and L59) and the two night-time routes of the C5 and C6.[45] The Phase 2 routes are operated by Dublin Bus, with the exception of the L51 and L52 which are operated by Go-Ahead Ireland.[46] A number of old Dublin Bus routes were discontinued with the introduction of the redesign, including the 25 and 66.

Phase 3, consisting of the N4 and N6 north Dublin orbitals, came into effect on 29 May 2022.[39] The N4 travels from Spencer Dock Luas stop to Blanchardstown Shopping Centre serving Killester, Whitehall, DCU, Finglas and Connolly Hospital.[47] The N6 travels from Kilbarrack to Finglas Village, serving Coolock, Beaumont and Ballymun.[48] There is a 10 minute frequency on both the N4 and N6 at most times on weekdays and Saturdays, with the addition of a 24-hour service on the Route N4, running every 30 minutes every night of the week.[40] The other routes in the new BusConnects network will be rolling out on a phased basis over the next several years.[45]

Impact of Covid-19[edit]

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of Airlink, Nitelink and some Xpresso services in March 2020; Airlink services were later permanently suspended five months later.[49] With the easing of restrictions in January 2022, Dublin Bus announced all Nitelink services would return to normal from Friday 28 January 2022.[23] The use of facemasks onboard became optional from Monday 28 February 2022.[50]

Route Map[edit]

Uniquely for a capital city's primary transit network,[51] no full system-wide street and route map is available online. Dublin Bus cites high licensing fees from fellow state-owned company, Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI). OSI historically published a printed street map, reissued every two to five years, which included bus routes. However, the edition published June 2011 omitted these for the first time.

Dublin Bus's Core Route Map[52] does, however, provide some visual information about key routes in the city.


In 2021, Dublin Bus fares migrated to a simplified system, with a short journey fare for journeys of up to three "fare stages" (roughly 2-3km) and a normal fare for longer trips. Paying the normal fare using a Leap card allows free transfers to other Dublin Bus, Luas, and certain Iarnród Éireann services for a 90-minute period.[53][54] Transfers are not available on paper tickets. Higher fares apply to limited-stop peak time Xpresso services (route numbers suffixed with X) and to late-night Nitelink services (route numbers suffixed with N).[55][56]

In general, Dublin Bus encourages prepaid or reloadable ticket use, and for cash payment it operates an 'exact fare' policy. Passengers must place the exact fare in coins (notes are not accepted) in a "fare box" at the driver's cabin, and the ticket is issued. In case of overpayment, no change is given and a system of issuing 'refund due' receipts, which operated for many years, ended in September 2018.

The wide variety of pre-paid tickets historically issued for Dublin Bus services has been withdrawn over time. Fare capping applies to frequent use of the same Leap card within a day or calendar week (Monday to Sunday), and a "rambler" pack of five or 30 non-consecutive one-day unlimited travel can be purchased and loaded to a Leap card for a slight discount. Monthly and annual season tickets are also offered.

Prepaid tickets must be validated in a machine by the door of the bus at the start of each journey, although the validation process for leap cards differs depending on the distance being travelled and the ticket being used.

Old age pensioners and children aged five and under (as of 1 December 2017) are allowed to travel free of charge; this is part of the national "Free Travel Pass"[57] system operated by the Department of Social Protection.

Passengers who choose not to pay a fare or who travel beyond the limit paid for may be issued a fine, called a "standard fare", of €50, which doubles to €100 if not paid within 3 weeks. Continued non-payment may result in prosecution.[58]


As of October 2019, the fleet consisted of 1,048 buses.[51][59]

Quantity Manufacturer Type Fleet Code Passengers Length Entered Service Doors
11 Volvo B9TLT (Euro 4) with Enviro500 bodywork VT 119–124 12 m 2005–2007 1
22 Volvo B7TL (Mk. II) with ALX400 bodywork AX 91 9.9 m 2006 1
97 Volvo B9TL (Euro 4) with Enviro400 bodywork EV 94 10.2 m 2007–2009 1
49 Volvo B9TL (Euro 4) with Eclipse Gemini bodywork VG 88 10.4 m 2008–2009 1
148 Volvo B9TL (Euro 5) with Eclipse Gemini bodywork GT 78–81 10.4 m 2012–2013 2
621 Volvo B5TL (Euro 6) with Gemini 3 bodywork SG 95 10.5 m 2014–2021 2
2 Wrightbus StreetLite DF integral WS 37 10.2 m 2017 1
3 Wrightbus StreetDeck integral hybrid diesel-electric WH 2019 2
3 Volvo Volvo B5LH hybrid diesel-electric with Wright Gemini 3 bodywork VH 2019 2
3 Alexander Dennis Enviro400H MMC integral hybrid diesel-electric AH 2020 2
274 Alexander Dennis Alexander Dennis Enviro400 ER hybrid diesel-electric integral. PA 60 10.3m or 11m 2021 2


As the vehicles of the Dublin Bus fleet come of age, they are withdrawn to make way for newer technology. Types of significance such as the GAC Ireland have been preserved by the National Transport Museum of Ireland who house R1 (the first Dublin United Tramways Leyland double-decker service bus in Dublin).

Many ex-CIÉ types have been acquired by private preservationists, some of whom associated with the Transport Enthusiasts Club (TEC). The vehicles are garaged, restored and run by the owners without state funds and take part in films, television programs and in vintage rallies. One event was CIE 60th. 30 October 2005 saw Dublin Bus host CIE 60th in the new Harristown depot. This event was done in coordination with the Transport Enthusiasts Club. Buses, new and old, were on display, showing the contrast and how far the company had come.

September 1961 with the airport bus and horse-powered hackney carriage competition.

Dublin's main bus operator was formerly the Dublin United Transport Company. This company was incorporated into CIÉ in 1945.



In 1989, a youth grabbed the steering wheel of a Tallaght bound double decker as it turned the corner opposite Christchurch and the bus crashed onto its side. Multiple passengers were injured but none were injured seriously.[60]

Wellington Quay[edit]

On 21 February 2004, at Wellington Quay, Dublin, a bus mounted on pavement and crashed into a queue of 30 people, killing five and injuring 14. The driver was tried for dangerous driving causing death, his trial began in February 2007 at Dublin Circuit Court, but he was acquitted.[61]

North Strand Road[edit]

Bus accident on 5 February 2009 at North Strand Road

On 5 February 2009, a bus en route from Abbey Street to Artane collided with a tree on North Strand Road and the entire roof section was torn off. The driver was treated in hospital for shock but there were no other injuries as no passengers were seated in the upper deck.[62]

Dublin City Centre[edit]

On 16 September 2009, a collision between a Red Line Luas tram and a number 16 Dublin Bus from Ballinteer to Dublin Airport in Dublin City Centre at the intersection of Abbey Street and O'Connell Street injured 21 people. Three people, including the Luas driver, were cut out of the wreckage. The Luas was derailed in the accident. Two female passengers remained trapped on the bus for up to 45 minutes after the crash.[63][64][65][66][67]


On 16 March 2019, an out of service double-decker bus (VG1) collided with a tram at the junction at Queen Street near the Smithfield Luas stop. Several people were hospitalised with non-life-threatening injuries.[68]


On 2 October 2020, a double-decker operating on route 7A was involved in a serious collision with a stolen car at the junction of Northumerland Road and Haddington Road in Ballsbridge, resulting in the bus hitting a tree. Eight people were hospitalised, with two bus passengers requiring intensive care.[69]

Service overhaul plans[edit]

In July 2018, the National Transport Authority revealed proposals for a major overhaul of Dublin's bus service. Proposed changes include renumbering routes and concentration of routes along primary thoroughfares, increased frequency, simplification of fares to include integrated ticketing allowing cost-free transfer to other public transport services, and creation of many new orbital routes.[70] As part of this a new livery was introduced with the Yellow and Blue livery being replaced by a new standardised Green and Yellow livery. This livery is planned to be rolled out to all PSO bus services in Ireland meaning it will not be solely used by Dublin Bus and features both Transport for Ireland and operator branding.

On 27 June 2021 the first part of the Bus Connects program was rolled out with routes 29a, 31/a/b and 32 being replaced by the "H Spine" routes H1, H2 and H3. Route 6 was also introduced to replace route 31a and 31b in Howth. Increased frequency particularly at weekends and earlier and later services were also added with these changes.[71]

On 28 November 2021, Phase 2 of the Bus Connects program was rolled out with routes 25, 25a, 25b, 25d, 25x, 66, 66a, 66b, 66e, 66n, 66x, 67, 67n and 67x (and the 239 operated by Go-Ahead Ireland) being replaced by the new routes C1, C2, C3, C4, route 52, along with peak time routes P29, X25, X26, X27, X28, X30, X31 and X32 and six local routes (L51 and L52 operated by Go-Ahead Ireland) L53, L54, L58 and L59. Two night-time routes C5 and C6 were also introduced. The route 26 was enhanced with more frequent buses. This phase serves West Dublin and East Kildare.[72]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]