The UX of Dublin Bus

The UX of Dublin Bus
April 16, 2014 Marin

Taipei 101Dublin Spire

As a newcomer from Taipei to Dublin City, so far everything has been more or less a cultural shock to me, including the public transport. Of course, applications of public transport would always help, such as Google Map and Dublin Bus. However, technology will not make everything flawless. So far my Taiwanese friends and I have noticed some major differences between the Dublin Bus and the Taipei Bus:

Dublin-Bus app icongoogle map app icon

Painpoint 1. Dublin bus stops are named in numbers.

Bus Stop in Numbers vs Streets

All Dublin Bus stops are in numbers, which confused me a lot since there is no direct connection between the numbers and the destinations. Some bus stops do display both numbers and street names, which makes much more sense to both citizens and newcomers. Numbers are hard to remember for some people (like me), but they make it very easy to find the right stop if many bus stops are aligned very closely. Most Taipei Bus stops are named after streets or landmarks, personally I find them easier to look for either physically or via apps. When looking for directions, consistency of signs and landmarks matters the most.

Solution 1

Show both street names (or landmarks) and numbers on all bus stops, it would be more straight forward for bus users.

Painpoint 2. Buses have a larger range in Dublin.

Dublin Bus charges its users differently based on the number of stages they take buses for: 1-3, 4-7, 8-13, over 13 stages and can be broken down further. Calculating fares could be quite complicated sometimes for both Dublin Bus drivers and the users, since most of them would only know either the name of their destination or the stop number. One day I said where I would get off to a bus driver and he did not succeed in recalling the correct fare until I told him the street names. Once I get to know how the system works, it makes more sense because whoever uses bus service more has to pay more. In general, Taipei Bus users are charged in two ways only: one or two stages (mostly one stage). It is much simpler than in Dublin, but less reasonable though.

Solution 2

Apply touch-on and touch-off for leap card users so fares would be calculated and deducted automatically.

Painpoint 3.  Distance between bus stops is much shorter in Dublin.

Bus stops in short distance

At first, I was quite confused why it took only 15 minutes to drive from where I live to work, but would take 40 minutes by bus excluding the walk. Few days later, I surprisingly figured out that the distance between bus stops was very short here, within 4-minute walk in average. Dublin Buses basically stop every 1.5 minutes, which I guess is the main reason it takes us quite some time to get to our destinations. Sometimes it could be quite frustrating during the rush hours. Buses in Taipei usually stop every 5 minutes or longer. It means that people would have to walk farther to reach bus stops, but the time of journey on bus would be shorter than here for the same distance.

Solution 3

Eliminate one stop out of every two or three, so buses would travel more smoothly and it would also give people a chance to walk more and enjoy the city.

Above are how the Dublin Bus could be improved based on my own experience of the two cities. Please don’t get me wrong, Taipei Bus is far from perfect and does have its own deficits, however this has been my two-week public transport experience in Dublin City, and there will be more to come.

See also what others think about Dublin Bus: