A complete redrawing of the Dublin Bus network is part of a €1bn plan to increase passenger numbers by 50%.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said the plan is needed because of increasing congestion in Dublin following the country's economic recovery.

The plan would allow more frequent buses with shorter journey times.

Congestion is already costing the city €352m a year and this will rise to €2bn a year by 2033 if nothing is done, the minister said. 

The new BusConnects plan involves spending €1bn over the next ten years.

Public consultation on the redesign of the bus network is due to start next year.

Bus Rapid Transit routes, cashless fare payments and enhanced bus corridors are part of the BusConnects initiative.

The Chief Executive of the National Transport Authority has said the redrawing of the Dublin Bus network could cut the time spent on journeys at peak times in half.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Anne Graham said the changes aim to bring journey times at peak hours more in line with what they currently are during off-peak hours.

She said this will be achieved through a higher level of priority on bus corridors, better ticketing systems and fare structure.

Ms Graham acknowledged that changes are required in the rail network also but she said that congestion can be addressed more quickly through improvements to the bus network, due to a shorter lead-in time than would be needed by changes to the public rail network.

She said she hopes fares will stay at the current level in order to maintain the attraction of using public transport. She also said that new buses are purchased every year, and they are looking at buying low emission vehicles from next year.  

"Introducing all the elements that we've set out which is the much higher level of priority on bus corridors, bus rapid transit systems, better ticketing system and a simpler fare structure - all that leads to a more efficient bus network," she said.

Bus Éireann approves Budget for 2017

The board of Bus Éireann has agreed to sign off on the company's 2016 financial statements and formally approved a Budget for 2017, along with a new business plan.

In a statement, Bus Éireann said the plan "critically relies on the implementation of cost saving measures which have been agreed with staff as part of a comprehensive Labour Court recommendation, to restore and strengthen the financial position of the company".

Bus Éireann Chairman Aidan Murphy added: "After a very difficult period, the Board welcomes the presentation of a viable business plan."