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Irish Times article about public transport in Dublin

Margaret O’Mahony has an interesting article in the Irish Times about Dublin Bus and the cuts there. It’s interesting, and mostly right, but it is wrong about some things.

A loss of 5 percent of business is enormous for a bus company, far greater than it might seem. For a start, it should never happen. O’Mahony makes a good job of explaining the things that might have led to it happening (late buses, low quality, poor monitoring)

In a bus company, unlike most other companies we might think of, your costs are all fixed. If you do lose 5 percent of your numbers on a bus service, you have to cut, and fast. You can’t absorb the loss.
The result is that a 5 percent reduction in numbers is as severe as a 20 percent drop in sales in a convenience store.

Fewer buses doesn’t necessarily mean poorer operations (though it might). All the things that O’Mahony suggests, you can do with fewer buses.

Obviously, there are no right answers here. Cutting back buses when you are trying to promote public transport is obviously a catastrophic thing to have to do. But the problem is that Dublin Bus has painted itself into a corner. Now it’s just going to have to wait for the paint to dry, and make sure it never traps itself like this again.

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