Dublin Bus routing information – the number 16 (northside) as a proof of concept

16 Bus Route in Dublin
Draft Routing information for Number 16 route (northside section)

There is a larger version of this graphic here. Please click through as it’s probably easier to read.

I’ve been back in Dublin for 14 years now and one of the things (many things) which I have still not really gotten used to is the bus system. Dublin is a sprawling city and most of its public transport is by bus with some local rail and tram handled by DART and Luas respectively and some local suburban rail which used to be called Arrow although I think some of it may now be DART

Both Colin Broderick and Aris Venetikidis have built network maps but they haven’t, as far as I can see, caught on all that widely although both have had varying amounts of coverage. I would like to have a go at that at some stage but I want to solve a different problem.

Dublin has a lot of bus stops. Dublin Bus has numbered of all of them to support a decent real time bus information system which I find pretty handy now that I have a smartphone – but it is that number of buses which makes it difficult to map the system effectively. Additionally, a lot of those stops are very close together. I lived in Brussels where there was typically a 10 minute walk between bus stops. In Dublin, it can be less than five, even for the same route.

So setting out a route map for a typical cross city bus route in Dublin is onerous if you want to list all the stops. If, however, you take a step back and consider the primary places people might want to know about, you can cut out the number of stops you display on a route substantially. The intermediate ones still exist, but for each bus route, you can create a fairly simple linear route map. What I’ve posted above is a proof of concept of such a route map, covering the northern section of the number 16 bus route. I chose that one for fairly simple reasons – I know it very well and it’s got a number of useful landmarks along the route.

The graphic above only shows a subsection of the route – namely Dublin Airport to Ballinteer. I have a number of design considerations in place:

  • I haven’t decided for sure that the 45 degree slope for the landmarks is the final version – I may bring it up to ca 60 degrees. 
  • I wanted each terminus and each major city centre stop to stand out. Obviously DIT is not the terminus for this particular route but as it’s the last one on the proof of concept graphic, it’s getting the treatment (for now at least).
  • For stops with particular features, such as transfers onto rail or Luas, I wanted to include a graphical representation of that access using the relevant logo. I discovered in doing this that Irish Rail has a new logo which I didn’t recognise. This reduces its informational value but I am (naively, perhaps) assuming that as people become more familiar, they won’t be wondering what the funny little flag thingie is.
  • I wanted the graphic to also give some information regarding which areas the bus passed through which may be of use as well as knowing that this bus goes past Saint Patrick’s College, for example.
  • Theoretically, each route should get its own colour but Dublin Bus has a lot of routes and this may not actually provide that much useful information if there are 30-40 different routes. Mostly we use colour to identify a particular route in some of the better known transit maps (I will always know that I lived on the light blue Metro Line 13 in Paris, for example). That colour association, even as it gets complicated, is something that is easy to learn if you are starting from a small number of lines and then just adding to them. A big blast of lines together is somewhat like too much information.
  • There’s a comment about frequency. The 16 has a complex time table first thing in the morning – in fact, no bus leaves Dublin Airport before 8am based on the time table although a substantial number of them are under way from Larkhill and parts of Beaumont and Santry from about 6.20 in the morning. I’ve mixed feelings about including this sort of information for the simple reason that it’s incomplete, and yet more complete information makes the graphic less informative as it’s harder to read quickly.
  • There are a couple of things I am reconsidering visiting (this is draft one, basically) regarding the layout but before I do so, I probably need to complete the entire route out to Ballinteer. The list of suburbs may need to be reconfigured a little and the bus route number brought over to the left, for example. The GAA logo is a little too big for my liking.
  • I’ve noticed the typo. I will fix it in the next draft.
  • I should probably include the Rotunda for the Parnell Square stop and also note that the bus stops are on different sides on Parnell Square depending on whether you are travelling northbound or southbound. This affects a lot of north/south services.

The mere act of producing this has been interesting however; it’s given me more ideas for things I want to do around the bus routes in Dublin, something, which like the neutrality markings might wind up being an all consuming project for a while. There will be a second iteration of this when I have more information regarding the southern section of the route, and when I’ve made more final decisions around things like route colour and font formatting.

Feedback is welcome.

Additional Note: See work done here on Cork’s bus service: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Map-of-Cork-City-Bus-Services/137667036266836

Information sources:

Dublin Bus – No 16 Timetable and routing information.