Dublin Bus data – can I have some please?

If you use the RTPI signs, or have either the Dublin or Ireland transport info applications on your phone, here are the questions that gets answered:

  • When is the next bus due?
  • What is the next bus?
  • When is the next train going to leave from here?
  • Where is that train going?

I use Dublin Bus’s RTPI applicaton all the time. I use it more than the all Ireland one because I have my favourite bus stops set up and somehow I haven’t the time to set them up in a second app. I will probably use the all-Ireland one for Irish Rail.

These are useful questions to answer. They take the guess work out of the time table, traffic and delays. Only on one day have the really let me down and to be fair, Dublin Bus had extenuating circumstances as O’Connell Bridge was closed.

But there is another question I’d prefer an answer to and it is this.

  • How packed is my onwards bus connection.

Every morning, I get two buses, one from where I live on Dublin’s northside to the city centre, and one from the city centre to UCD’s Belfield campus. In total, the journey normally takes me about an hour, end to end. It’s not bad, but on occasion, things go wrong and I wind up delayed, and occasionally a bit soaked.

Normally I change buses on D’Olier Street. Most of the cross city buses wind up there when they are running southbound, and both buses I can get into the city centre drop at stops there, and a lot of the buses to UCD pick up there. Sometimes, however, those buses are full, full enough for drivers to decide they are not taking on any more passengers. So I get left behind.

So, some mornings, instead of getting off in D’Olier Street, I stay on my first bus until I get to Kildare Street, and do the change there. This is because I gamble that the UCD bound buses will lose a significant number of passengers on Nassau Street, outside Trinity College.

Because of the way Dublin City Centre is laid out, and how the bus routes cross each other, there are often, multiple common stops between bus routes. So the question that I’d like an answer to some mornings, at 8am is this – can I get out at D’Olier Street (there’s a Spar there, and a little more shelter if it’s raining) or should I wait until Kildare Street before doing my bus route change.

Dublin Bus collects a lot of data that I know about, and probably a whole lot more that I know nothing about. Typically, they will know how many people are getting on buses because they have two ticket readers and a driver. And because of the stage system, for a lot of those passengers, they can make an educated guess where people will be alighting.

It would be nice if the RTPI could indicate the likely busyness of a given bus. If, when you looked at the 41 due to go into town it was highlighted whether it was likely to be full or only half full at a given point on its route. So that when I look at RTPI for the 46A to go to Belfield, I can check how full the bus is as well.

Incidentally, this is worth a read – via ITS International..