Some pictures from the busgathering at Cultra, uploaded from site by iPhone.
Earlier this month I needed to travel to the North Devon town of Ilfracombe for a part-business part-pleasure weekend, and as is my normal preference, I elected to do this entirely by public transport, including the airport leg in Dublin.
For the first part of the journey I would be accompanied by “Donnybrook Observer” who was also flying that morning, while for the final leg of the tip I would be guided by an old friend and former Ensignbus colleague, John Burch, now Deputy Director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport in the UK, who had invited me to stay in his charming Ilfracome property, itself the former station master’s house of the long abandoned Ilfracombe branch line.
Taking the absolute minimum of baggage with me, and using only a Nokia camera-phone, I aimed to record as much of the trip and the various modes of transport seen and used as possible.
All these photos are available in fullsize mode – just click on the picture for the bigger view!
With our flights due to depart Dublin around midday, Donnybrook Observer and I decided to leave Ballinteer at around 9am, choosing the 0900 14A departure, so that we could get to sample the “via Palmerston Park” special working.
This diversion is less needed now that the 128 provides a regular service in the area, but when we arrived at Palmerston Park, the 128 at the stop was not yet loading, and so we took on around 15 of its potential passengers. Our bus was Volvo Olympian RV483, and was quite full by the time it reached Rathmines.
The early morning sun made photography of both the 14A, and the next leg of our trip on the Airlink Express difficult, as it was both bright and directly behind the buses in O’Connell Street. The shot of RV483 is interesting, in the the Spire is visible over the bus, but not through the windows, making it look as if the entire weight is being supported by the roof of the bus. This optical effect is caused by a high level of reflection on the condensation on the inside of the bus windows.
Arriving at Dublin Airport in good time, DO’s flight was without problems, but I was faced with a long wait for the FlyBe Exeter service, as the plane had been delayed for 3 hours earlier in the day due to a security alert at Paris.
The FlyBe Bombardier eventually arrived, and the flight to Exeter was uneventful. The arrival in Exeter International was in the middle of a downpour, and I sheltered in the tiny terminal building for 20 minutes until the Stagecoach service arrived to take me to the city centre. Bus waiting facilities are poor, and boarding involved a dash across windswept roadways in the pouring rain.
The Airport service seems to be worked by ALX200 bodied Dennis Darts.
In Exeter, a selection of buses in the bus station and city centre.
The next part of the journey was by rail – a walk to Exeter Central station to meet John Burch, who was arriving in from London on a Stagecoach SouthWest Trains service, and then we would take the local “Tarka Line” First service to Barnstaple.
I was amazed to see that there were lots of Leyland-National derived class 142 units still in service – the last time I encountered one of these strange beasts was at Goole in Yorkshire, almost 14 years ago!
Arriving in Barnstaple, we had a walk to the town centre and time for a drink before boarding the bus for the final leg to Ilfracombe. John used his local knowledge to ensure that the bus trip was interesting – instead of taking the main Ilfracombe service on route 3, we took the Fridays Only 30E service, which takes a more direct but remote routing along tiny hilly laneways eventually approaching Ilfracombe and the Bristol Channel over the crest of a dramatic hill, giving a view of the lights of Wales far across the dark waters.
We arrived at John’s house at 2100 – 12 hours exactly sice the 14A started my journey.
Also included below are a couple of shots taken the following day around Ilfracombe. I did try to get the local independent Filers, but they were elusive on the day! However the holiday camp buses were a real find, with thanks to John for his local knowledge!
To celebrate the 12th anniversary of the founding of the site, every day during November I’ll be bringing you one of my favourite photos from the past 12 years.
Today’s picture is best appreciated in full size (click on the photo to view the full version).
I know we have already featured Bus Eireann’s 282 service in this series, but I had to include this picture also, as it is one of my absolute favourites. This is a shot where the bus is a smaller part of the bigger picture, by design.
Shot from a grassy knoll on the side of the R573 road, it shows PD21 at the top of the mountain pass between Laragh and Barrack Cross in Co. Kerry. The 282 serves this location all year round, as a Friday-only service, with extra services in summer.
PD21 was the replacement for the KS types which held on until 2002 on this route, but it only lasted a year, and the service has been VC operated ever since.
To celebrate the 12th anniversary of the founding of the site, every day during November I’ll be bringing you one of my favourite photos from the past 12 years.
We’re kicking off with a double, featuring both Bus Eireann and Dublin bus, with a pair of early morning shots.
Above: Sometimes the best shots are the spur of the moment ones. Sometime around 2002, I was heading back from Kerry to Dublin very early in the morning, and passed through Macroom just as the first morning service to Cork was departing. A few miles out the road, I saw a passenger waiting at the roadside where there was a reasonable pull-in, and figured it would be a good opportunity to get an “action shot” of a Bus Eireann coach out in the countryside, mid route. Now that the VCs are gradually vanishing from service work, I’m glad I got this shot when I had the opportunity.
When the Coastal Tour was introduced, one of the two tours buses was scheduled to work a couple of round trips on the 14/A before taking up duty on the tour. The bus would work one of the early 14As from Ballinteer, and back, managing to get in another citybound journey at the end of the morning peak, before parking up in the Great Strand Street compound until needed for tours.
By 2001 AV92 was one of the regular buses on the service.
This link was broken when the routes were changed in 2005, and there is no longer a regular scheduled tourbus working.
Some shots taken at the main bus station at UCD Belfield in the morning peak, Friday 17th October 2008.
All photos can be seen fullsize by clicking on them
The RA-class Volvo Olympian / Alexander (Cummins powered) double-decker has bowed out of service with Dublin Bus, leaving just over 300 similar but Volvo powered RV class still in service.
Enthusiasts enjoyed a fine sendoff for the RA class, organised by Dublin Bus drivers Tony, Barry and Kevin, thanks also due to the management of Donnybrook depot for retaining the last two servicable examples until the weekend for us.
The buses RA302 and RA305 carried enthusiasts over the 46A and 14 routes, joined by trainer RA176, the first RA, and originally also a Donnybrook bus.
Coaches & Buses in West Cork and Kerry in July 2008, including Bus Eireann, private operators, rural transport scheme and island operations. All photos by Gabriel Conway
The Beara peninsula is one of the lesser-known treasures of Ireland, just as pretty but far less spoilt than the nearby Ring of Kerry. The Cork/Kerry border runs along the middle of the peninsula, with the western end being wholly in West Cork.
For such a remote area, it is well served by public transport, with Bus Eireann services on both sides of the peninsula, a long established private operator on the Cork side, and a well-developed network of rural transport services that reach right to the end, and even out to the largest island off Castletownbere.
The photo above, taken on the southern side, on the road from Glengarriff to Castletownbere, shows Bus Eireann VC116 parked around 4-5km west of Glengarriff. There is often a schoolbus parked at this location, though I suspect that VC116 has been working a regular service.
In the background can be seen Bantry Bay and the Sheeps Head.
A closer view of VC116 – the VCs are the mainstay of many services in the area, though they are being slowly cascaded to schools work now.
Over the many years that I have visited Kenmare, I have seen generations of buses come and go on the Kenmare/Killarney service (these days numbered 270).
In the mid 70s Leyland Leopard E14 was the main bus, with E69 sometimes doing duty as a backup. In the late 70s and early 80s, C27 was the only bus on this service for a long time, until replaced by new KR97 in 1985. This was to be the last new bus that the route received for many a year, as a succession of midlife coaches followed when the KR was eventually relegated to schools. There was a PL for a while in the late 90s, and then VC60 became a regular, up until about a year ago, following which a variety of VCs have been used, with VC109 appearing often.
SC235 is the first brand new vehicle I’ve seen on the route since 1985, and is seen here departing from Killarney Bus Station for Kenmare (irish: Nedin) on an early morning journey.
Also at Killarney, VC86 waits to take up duty on the 040 express service linking Tralee and Killarney with Cork and Waterford.
Also fairly new, SP104 is seen here at the part of Killarney Bus Station closest to the Outlet Centre. These coaches are very sleek looking, and have the most flush fitting doors of any I have seen.
Sister vehicle SP108 seen in the coach parking area near the bus station.
A variety of independent operators coaches can be seen at Killarney throughout the year, and there is almost always several varieties of Kavanaghs on display!
Galvins of Dunmanway are often seen around Killarney on tour work.
Back to the Beara peninsula, and VC28 is seen at The Square in Castletownbere, ready for the 1100 departure to Kenmare on route 282. This is a magnificant trip, which involves crossing the mountains to the nothern side of the peninsula and into Co. Kerry, with some spectacular scenery and narrow roads. In the summer, two round trips a day are operated Monday to Saturday, while in winter months a shorter version runs once a week from Ardgroom to Kenmare.
An hour an a half later, VC28 has arrived in Kenmare and dropped off its passengers, some of whom will continue on to Killarney on VC109 on the 270.
The buses are seen at the top of the main street in Kenmare, where a dedicated Bus Eireann stop is in place. CIE and Bus Eireann buses have used the main street as a stopping point for almost 50 years, however a local politician has launched a campaign to have the bus stop moved to a different part of town, in order to make 5 further car parking spaces available in the main street. This despite the fact that the new location would involve considerable disruption for the bus services, forcing them to navigate the one-way system twice for some departures, and would be less convienient for the passengers.
During the summer, two buses are needed for the 270, so VC109 is working the service as well as SC235 – it will be interesting to see which one is retained for the one-bus winter timetable!
The early afternoon departure that the VC is about to work takes connecting passengers from both the 282 Castletownbere service, and the West Cork 252 route, formerly the 044 expressway.
Since the late 1970s there has been a summer-only service from Cork through Bantry and Glengarriff to Kenmare, until this year always running on to Killarney.
Originally an Expressway service, recently numbered 044, it has this year been downgraded to a stage service, numbered 252, and does not run beyond Kenmare.
When started in the 70s, the route used to take the scenic Molls Gap road to Killarney, though in recent years it has used the quicker Kilgarvan routing. It remains one of the few services in Ireland to operate through a hand-carved mountain tunnell, between Glengarriff and Kenmare.
Buckleys is an operation connected with Kerry Coaches of Killarney. One of their luxury minicoaches is seen here at the triangle in Kenmare.
Here is an interesting and very well-preserved import to these shores. Possibly a former postbus from the UK, this Leyland vehicle now seems to be used as a private camper van, and was in Kenmare for the fleadh weekend at the end of july.
SP18 seems to be a regular overnight visitor to Kenmare, on CIE touring work.
Back to Castletownbere, and here we see the very long established private operator O’Donoghues, who operate bus services from Castletownbere to Bantry and Cork. Their base is right in the centre of the town, at the main square.
A few miles off Castletownbere in Bantry Bay lies Bere Island, which is connected to the mainland by two car-ferry services, one of which leaves from the centre of town.
The ferries are very small, and have room for just six cars. The trip out to the island is well worth the time, although reversing down the slipway and up the ramp onto the ferry can be nerve-wracking, particularly when it is at an angle as seen here!
Trucks are also carried to and from the island, though only one at a time. And buses too, as I was to find out when I arrived out on Bere Island . .
A Ford Transit minibus of the Bantry Rural Transport scheme is seen at the harbour on Bere Island. Because of the way it was parked against a wall, the only possible front shot was this one, from the ferry slipway with zoom lens!
The minibus provides transport both on and off the island, with regular services being operated to and from Castletownbere via the ferry, and a twice-weekly evening service to Bantry. This is just one of a network of buses operated by West Cork Rural Transport, with government funding, covering the areas of the Beara and Sheeps Head peninsulas that Bus Eireann do not reach.
Bere Island itself is delightful, with few cars, quiet roads, and a huge amount to see. The size of Manhatten island, it is somewhat less densely populated, though you will find two pubs, a great coffee shop and a resturant as well as other facilities alongside the quiet hill walks and miles of empty laneways.
A trawl through my photo archive for some oddities and interesting shots of the 2000-2003 batches of AVs in Dublin. (The AVs are Volvo B7TL with Alexander ALX400 bodywork)
NOTE: With the exception of the above shot, where the original is of poor quality, clicking on any picture in this article will bring you to a full-size version.
The above is included despite the poor quality because it illustrated my very first encounter with the AV class, when the first couple of buses had just arrived at Phibsboro Garage in July/August 2000.
AV1 is seen over the pits at Phibsboro, beside one of the remaining fleet of Bombardier KDs which would shortly be replaced by the new buses. Over the next couple of days AV3 could be seen out on the streets driver training, but it was not until September 1st 2000 that the first AV entered service – AV6 at Ringsend, the first trip being on the 65.
AV1-5 were “additional” buses for fleet expansion, allocated to Broadstone, and so stayed off the road pending the introduction of service improvements later in the year.
Above: AV1 has been a bit of a wanderer, and following a spell on euro duties at Broadstone it was moved across to Clontarf, where it mingled with other AVs on most of that depot’s routes.
This photo, taken on April 21st 2002 shows it in Abbey Street about to depart for Malahide. If you look closely in the picture, you can see that AV1 has a small digital display unit at the front of the upper deck, visible through the front windows. AV1 later moved to Ringsend, to tidy up the numbers, and give Ringsend a complete run of AV1-21.
Above: Phibsboro’s AV50 loading up on festival shuttle duty, in the days when the shuttles used to leave from O’Connell Street. The picture is taken in summer 2001, and the festival was Witnness (these days known as Oxegen).
Above: AV108 was an out of sequence allocation to Donnybrook, seen here in 2001 in Dun Laoghaire. It left Donnybrook after a fairly short stay, and is now based at Harristown.
Above: anyone remember The Christmas Bus? Few AVs have been in allover advert colours, and this one only lasted a month, as a “Happy Christmas” greeting from Dublin Bus to its customers. AV136 is seen in December 2003 at Ranelagh.
AV173 was another odd allocation, later tidied up. Seen here at the old 46A terminus in Fleet Street, being overtaken by RA222, also in City Swift livery.
Above: this more modern shot is included to illustrate AV178, the first of the type to be lost by fire. This picture in O’Connell Street was taken just 3 months before its unfortunate demise.
AV185 brings us to the end of the 2000 order, and is seen here brand new at Broadstone, in storage pending the introduction of extra service on the Blanchardstown corridor.
Above: I guess you could call this the arse-end of O’Connell Street (!).
The 2001 batch of AVs was very small compared to the 2000 order, comprising AV186-229 – a mere 44 buses (there was an additional 12 WVs also). A slightly revised body style was introduced, with slanted window and overhang, introduced at the request of drivers, who found the large vertical window on the original AVs too prone to internal reflections at night, particularly when driving in less well-lit areas.
As a workaround on the first 185 AVs, they were sometimes driven at night with nearside interior lighting switched off.
The picture shows AV193, new into service in the tail end of 2001.
Above: new AV222, close to Christmas 2001, entered service without a Dublin Bus logo on the front, and looked slightly odd as a result. In the background, one of the VanHool D tourbuses can be seen – these survived in service until spring 2002.
Above: not an oddity, but a first day in service, and so worthy of inclusion. Clontarf received the first of the 2002 batch of AVs in April 2002, mostly for the 27, though they strayed a lot to other routes. AV236 is gleaming and perfect at Talbot Street.
Above: summer 2003 saw an interesting oddity, with route 123 converted to fully double-deck operation for a couple of weeks to release the WV single-decks to act as shuttle buses for the Special Olympics.
The buses used were brand new AVs being delivered at the time, which went to Broadstone and worked the 123 prior to going to their intended depots. AV292 would become a Conyngham Road bus, which was fitting in a way, as Conyngham Road had operated the predecessor route 23 back in its double-deck heyday. This shot is taken on the 22nd of June 2003, at the Bulfin Road junction.
Above: a little while later on the same day, and one of my favourite shots, as brand new AV301 works the 123 at Suir Road. The landscape here with houses and railings had changed little since the days when I used to pass this way regularly in the 1970s, on my way to and from a summer holiday job. In those days blue & cream double-decks on the 23, either D281-288 or often RA class halfcabs, would always be encountered at this stretch of road. Seeing a blue & cream double-deck again at that spot really brought back the memories.
After a couple of weeks, AV301 moved to Phibsboro and the 123 reverted to WV operation.
More from the AV files in the future!
With Finglas bus services in the news, the need to get some up to date shots prompted me to look back through my collection to remember previous visits.Below are a selection of pictures and commentary from last Sunday, as well as my forays to Finglas 5, 8 and 26 years ago.
Whatever happens in the Irish bus world usually makes it into Coach & Bus Week (CBW) magazine the following Wednesday, and more often than not I have to get a photo to accompany the copy.
Given recent events in Finglas, including car hijackings on Patricks Day and occasional stoning of buses (the subject of the article) I was a little nervours about this assignment, especially given the circumstances of my last attempt to photograph in the location 5 years ago (see further below). So I took the car instead of the bus, and confined myself to failry mainstream locations, not too far off the beaten track.
Stopping first at Glasnevin Cemetary, after a few middling shots of buses heading to Finglas which were not displaying the destination, I got the picture above which would eventually accompany the article – ironically the only bus with “Finglas” mentioned on the display was actually heading inwards!
The bus is Volvo Olympian / Alexander RV550, new to Donnybrook Garage in 1999, and swapped over to Harristown in December 2005 as part of a cascade when the first triaxles arrived. It is on the 40A, and is picking up outside the main cemetary gates.
I wanted to get more shots closer to the Finglas area, and this one of RV537 was my first attempt. I was surprised to see it still on the 40s, as I expected it to have transferred to Ringsend by the weekend (part of another cascade – new triaxles into Phibsboro releasing older lowfloor buses to Harristown, pushing 9 year old RVs to Ringsend to replace 12 year old RAs).
Even in the short time that I stood on Tolka Valley Road to get this shot, I was subject to taunting from local youths and passing motorists, so I decided to quit while I was ahead and leave the area.
The source of my unease was an event five years earlier, when I had decided to take the newly extended/merged 83 to Finglas in the middle of the day on a Saturday, to get some shots around Finglas Village.
I had just stepped off the bus in the picture above, and photographed it to start my visit, when a group of local teenagers took exception to me, and started shouting insults and approaching in a threatening group. Within a minute of this picture I was having bottles and can thrown at me, in broad daylight close to the centre of the village.
This was something I had never encountered when photographing in any other area of Dublin.
Discretion being the better part of valour, I legged it the short distance to the main road, where AV141 was just approaching as an inbound 40, and grabbed a quick shot before boarding and heading back into town.
In July 2000, when the above photo was taken, the Finglas QBC had just been launched (or relaunched).
The 40 was mainly P operated at the time, as these buses – Plaxton Verde bodied DAF SB220s – had been replaced on the 39 by higher capacity double-deckers.
This shot of P26 was taken on a quiet morning near Glasnevin – no trouble that day.
I liked the Ps, and was sad that they were withdrawn before their time, as single-decks went out of fashion in Dublin. They are a graceful looking bus, and can still be found at work as schoolbuses with Bus Eireann, mainly in the west.
My favourite Finglas photo, even if it is badly clipped at one side. The time is late summer 1982, and Leyland Atlantean PDR1 D1 is in its last weeks of service, one of just a handful of single-door examples hanging on in service at the time.
D1 is a much photographed vehicle, and there are endless publicity shots of it gleaming new in 1966, but this is how it looked at the other end of its life, battered and torn after 16 years of service.One headlight missing, a hole in the roof dome, badly patched metal around the lower destination display, and mismatching window surrounds – one rubber in the style of the D400s, and one original. Some of the early Ds did get the rubber window aurrounds after serious accidents, but usually both were done, and D1 looked very odd with half a repair job.
The Transport Museum did think about obtaining D1 on withdrawal, but in the end went for the much more solid D44 instead.
I do recall that I travelled back into town on D1 that day, and that this was the very last time I saw it on the road – it was confirmed withdrawn just a few weeks later.
Going low can add interesting angles when photographing large vehicles. Crouching in a ditch is optional . . .
I’m crouching in a ditch at the side of the Airport Perimiter Road on a cold Easter Sunday, getting odd looks from the motorists flying past just inches above me. I’m waiting for a 27B to come past – either direction will do, though outbound would be better – as there would be no chance of other traffic getting in the way of the shot.
After what seems like forever, it comes, and I’m rewarded with a nice shot of EV38, a Volvo B9TL/Enviro 400 of Dublin Bus. The bus generally flys along the road, there is nothing to stop for, so I go as fast as possible with the exposure within the constraints of the poor lighting conditions.
Over the years that I’ve indulged in bus photography, at first as a hobby, and in later years professionally, I’ve developed a liking for the “low shot”.
When photographing what are essentially large boxes on wheels, anything you can do to change the approach angle of the shot will help liven up the photograph. In this case getting down into the ditch gives a partial view under the bus, and also allows the roadside grass to rise up into the picture, and add some foreground to the shot.
Even without the foreground, a low angle (crouching on the ground) helps make this shot of a brand new MarcoPolo single-deck bus more imposing. This was shot for Coach & Bus Week to mark the arrival of the MarcoPolo buses into Ireland, and when taking pictures like these for a manufactorer or operator, I’m always trying hard to make them look as impressive or interesting as possible.
I still do a lot of photography on a personal/hobby basis, though I often end up using pictures later as stock shots to illustrate a piece on something related. I try to take all the photo opportunities I can get, it’s always good when a story comes to be written if you already have the perfect shot to illustrate it.
For moving vehicles you only get one shot, but when I come across something parked, I’ll often take the opportunity to get several sides, and go for both the low and the standard views, as illustrated here by two views of Dublin Bus AV328 at Powerscourt Demense, Co. Wicklow.
This was the perfect example of the “opportunity shot” – I was taking my mother to the Garden Centre at Powerscourt, and our visit happened to coincide with the arrival of the South Coast Tour. If I ever need to illustrate an article on the tour I’ve got the shot waiting, and if I don’t, I have a nice record of AV328 as it looked in 2007.