Bus Eireann city bus services to the University have been affected following sweeping changes to the bus network.
The amendments, which were implemented on Sunday, 16 September, see many routes across Limerick being either removed or amalgamated.
The route number 308/308A, which was often referred to affectionately as “The 308”, has been removed. UL has now become part of route 304, which will now operate from Ballycummin and Raheen to the city, with buses continuing to UL via William Street and the regular route via Childers Road.
This is positive for those who may wish to commute to UL from Raheen/Ballycummin, though it is unclear if passengers will be able to travel to UL on one fare, or if it will cost more than €1.70.
The twice daily UL-Raheen services which operated at 4.30pm and 5.30pm during the college semester have been discontinued.
There will still be a bus every 15 minutes, though it remains to be seen if this will be reliable. After 7pm the frequency is reduced to a bus every 30 minutes, with the last bus from UL to the city at 11.30pm. On Sundays there is a service every 30 minutes.
Thirty minutes are now allowed for the journey from UL to town, which is appropriate given the often large number of passengers waiting at stops inbound to the city which previously compounded delays.
Clare Street and the Dublin Road, which were previously served by the 308A, will now be served by route 306. Most curiously though, this shall not operate to the campus, but will instead operate to Groody Road, adjacent to Brookfield Hall and Troy Student Village.
This change is not good for students who reside in Parkview Hall on the Dublin Road, who shall now have to either walk half the distance or change to the 304 at the Parkway and subsequently pay two fares.
The 306 shall operate from Brookfield hourly from 7.15am, with the last service at 11.15pm. There is no Sunday service. It will operate via Clare Street to Henry Street in the City Centre. This route then continues to Ballynanty on Limerick’s Northside.
It is hoped these changes may address the unreliability of the buses, the timekeeping of which is regularly heavily criticised by UL students. The changes will do little however to address the rampant overcrowding which features at peak times. It is clear double decker buses would be more appropriate at these times, though they are not forthcoming.
Bus Eireann recently introduced new vehicles to its fleet which offer free wifi. These often operate to UL.
Colm Fitzgerald, Comment Editor