Complaints made by Bus Éireann passengers nationwide are growing, according to figures obtained by TheCity.ie through Freedom of Information.
Since the beginning of 2015, 1,268 complaints have been filed to the National Transport Authority by passengers about the bus service. These figures are rising by the year, too. There were 206 complaints made by passengers in 2015, which would rise to 273 complaints made in 2016.
Complaint figures then skyrocketed nationwide in 2017 up to 458, in a year that saw Bus Éireann drivers go on strike for a three week period at the end of March into April.
As of November 2018, 331 complaints have been made about the service so far this year, a significant increase on the number of complaints made in the years 2015 and 2016. However, it is unlikely to exceed the 458 complaint figure of 2017, which were inflated by the strike.
Number of complaints per year
So, what bus routes are the primary offenders over the last four years? The top five most complained about are all commuter buses to or from Dublin.
The 133 service, which serves south County Wicklow, has the fifth highest number of complaints made, with 54 complaints being made about that bus service since the beginning of 2015. The highest number of complaints made in a year about the ‘133’ was 23 in 2017, with 10 being made this year, which has already exceeded the 9 complaints made in 2016 and has a chance of beating the 12 made in 2015. Complaints made by passengers of this route mostly consist of the service being unreliable.
The 111 service, which runs from Athboy, Co. Meath to Dublin, comes in fourth place in the number of complaints made, with 72 complaints being filed to the NTA since 2015. However, this year the service appears to be running a lot more smoothly, with only two complaints made in 2018, compared to the high of 30 made in 2017 and 29 in 2016.
The 109/109A/109x services, running from Kells, Co. Meath and Cavan Town comes next, with 73 complaints made since 2015, just one more than the ‘111’ Athboy route has received. There were only 11 complaints made about the service in total between 2015 and 2016, before a massive 52 complaints occurred in 2017. The majority of these complaints were regarding changes made to the service, but a good deal of them consisted of passengers complaining about the service being generally unreliable. The number of complaints in 2018 have fallen significantly to 10 so far this year, but this number still comfortably exceeds the 2015 and 2016 numbers.
Now to the second highest total of complaints, which have been made about the ‘132’ bus route which runs from Dublin down to Bunclody in Co. Wexford. A huge 118 complaints have been made by passengers of this route since 2015, with the lowest figure for any of these four years being 22 in 2015. The highest number of complaints were made in 2017, with 42, an increase of 16 from 2016’s 26 complaints. So far, 28 complaints have been made about the ‘132’ route in 2018 and that number is expected to rise over the last month of the year. Practically all of the complaints made by passengers of this route surround the buses’ apparently being, “sub-standard”, which features heavily in all four years of data.
Finally, the bus route(s) that holds the unfortunate honour of having the most complaints made about it in the the last four years, are the 103/103X, which serves Tayto Park and Fairyhouse from Dublin. There have been 124 complaints made in the last four years regarding the 103 services, with a whopping 67 of them occurring in 2016. The majority of the complaints that year were made in response to changes to that route by Bus Éireann. The following year saw 30 complaints to the NTA, with 19 made so far this year, both of these figures considerably higher than the mere eight that were made in 2015. Complaints made in the past two years have varied from buses being late to not showing up at all, with the reliability of the ‘103’ services being questioned.
Top five most complaints
The complaints filed by Bus Éireann passengers to the National Transport Authority are unfortunately not a true reflection of the service, as they do not include complaints made by passengers directly to Bus Éireann. However, it is still clear from the log of complaints seen by TheCity that Bus Éireann has reliability issues on multiple services and in the case of the ‘132’ route, some passengers believe buses are not up to standard.