QUICK-PIC – First Aircoach Clean Up With Ex Dublin Bus RVs [06Aug2013]

First Aircoach have hired in double-deckers to cope with loadings on their Airport services while state run competitor Dublin Bus are on strike.

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Above: One of the buses used today was ex-Dublin Bus Volvo Olympian RV560, which just 9 months ago finished its DB career as the last Olympian in the fleet with a run on route 16 to . . the Airport!

The Olympians were hired in by Aircoach from Callinans Coaches, and helped cope with very heavy peak flight loadings at the airport on the bank holiday Monday, and again today.

Below: RV560 (closer to camera) waits to pull in as RV558, also on Aircoach work, departs ahead of it.

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xxx

 

Ballinteer to Ilfracombe (via Palmerston Park)

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!

Setting off from Ballinteer on the 0900 14A

Setting off from Ballinteer on the 0900 14A

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 diversion via Palmerston Park allowed us to steal some customers from a waiting 128.

The diversion via Palmerston Park allowed us to steal some customers from a waiting 128

RV483 drops off at O'Connell Street, stage 1 of the journey over.

RV483 drops off at O'Connell Street, stage 1 of the journey over.

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 on the Airlink Express. 8 year old AV125 and its sisters will be replaced on this service by new Wright Geminis in the new year.

Arriving at Dublin Airport on the Airlink Express. 8 year old AV125 and its sisters will be replaced on this service by new Wright Geminis in the new year.

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 finally arrives at Dublin

The FlyBe Bombardier finally arrives at Dublin

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.

Arriving at Exeter International in a torrential downpour, it's time to make a dash for the Stagecoach

Arriving at Exeter International in a torrential downpour, it's time to make a dash for the Stagecoach

The Airport service seems to be worked by ALX200 bodied Dennis Darts.

Stagecoach service 55 arrives into Exeter Bus Station

Stagecoach service 56 arrives into Exeter Bus Station

In Exeter, a selection of buses in the bus station and city centre.

Stagecoach Enviro 400s can be seen working a number of Devon services

Stagecoach Enviro 400s can be seen working a number of Devon service

Olympians are also still in evidence, retrofitted with modern LED displays

Olympians are also still in evidence, retrofitted with modern LED display

Independents Western Greyhound and Dartline add variety at Exeter.

Independents Western Greyhound and Dartline add variety at Exeter

Amongst the earliest lowfloor double-deckers into service, a batch of S-reg Trident ALX400s new to East London, now working on park and ride services in Exeter. The yellow and blue livery looks attractive.

Amongst the earliest lowfloor double-deckers into service, a batch of S-reg Trident ALX400s new to East London, now working on park and ride services in Exeter. The yellow and blue livery looks attractive

In Exeter city centre, buses on local town services. Routes are lettered rather than numbered, a practice dating back many decades to the long vanished municipal operator.

In Exeter city centre, buses on local town services. Routes are lettered rather than numbered, a practice dating back many decades to the long vanished municipal operator.

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!

Exeter Central station, with a class 142 unit heading west.

Exeter Central station, with a class 142 unit heading west

142067 at Barnstaple, showing the Leyland National body styling and bus-type doors and seating.

142067 at Barnstaple, showing the Leyland National body styling and bus-type doors and seating.

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.

Heading along dark country lanes on the 30E.

Heading along dark country lanes on the 30E.

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!

Ilfracombe Bus Station with a Firstgroup Olympian on the main Barnstaple service.

Ilfracombe Bus Station with a Firstgroup Olympian on the main Barnstaple service

Two vanishing bus types, a Bristol VRT and a very elderly E-reg Atlantean PDR1A at the local holiday camp.

Two vanishing bus types, a Bristol VRT and a very elderly E-reg Atlantean PDR1A at the local holiday camp.

ONE IN TWELVE – Aerdart

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 we go to 2001 for the launch of the short-lived Aerdart service.

Aerdart DLA7 seen before entering service in 2001

Aerdart DLA7 seen before entering service in 2001

Sample through Bus/Rail ticket

Sample through Bus/Rail ticket

The launch of the Aerdart service by DelGro (owners of Metroline in London) seemed to show the start of an interest in the Dublin market by the large players in the UK bus scene (and was to be followed over the next couple of years by the entry into the Irish market of First and Veoila). The route linked Dublin Airport to the DART rail network at Howth Junction, running 7 days a week, with through ticketing to or from any station in the Dublin area.

The Aerdart service eventually foundered however, with the company blaming poor interchange facilities at Howth Junction where passengers had to lug their baggage up and down sets of stairs, and frequent closure of weekend DART services for engineering works.

The photo was taken on Saturday 31st March 2001, a few days before the launch of the route. I was lucky enough to meet up with a visiting Delgro executive who took the bus out for me to photograph, and printed the sample ticket above. He also explained to me that Metroline bosses had assumed they would use their existing livery for the Irish service, but that local staff had warned that red white and blue might not be the most sensitive of livery choices for this market!

The buses themselves were very smartly turned out Dennis Dart SLF Pointers, dual door with luggage space.

Minister Dempsey on 2009 Transport Spending

AllAboutBuses.com)

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey (photo: AllAboutBuses.com)

GOVERNMENT PRESS RELEASE
Ministers announce €3.6 billion for Transport (Budget 2009)
  • €1.27 billion on improved Public Transport
  • €2.1 billion on National, Regional and Local Roads
  • €40 million on Road Safety
  • €35m for Aviation Sector and development of Regional Airports
  • €48 million for improved activities of Coast Guard and Maritime Safety
Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey TD, today outlined plans for a €3.6 billion investment package in transport for the coming year following the publication of Budget 2009.
Speaking today Minister Dempsey said; “The €3.6 billion in this year’s transport budget underlines the Government’s continued commitment to investing in key transport infrastructure projects. A word class transport infrastructure is critical to our economy’s competitiveness. This funding will allow me to continue rolling out Transport 21 projects such as Metro North and the new Dart Interconnector, both of which will provide the backbone of an integrated public transport system for Dublin.

With this funding I aim to progress a variety of Transport 21 projects particularly in the area of public transport. Next year I also intend to continue rolling out our major interurban motorways which are now nearing completion.”
Speaking today, Minister of State at the Department of Transport Mr. Noel Ahern TD said; “A total of almost €40 million is being provided by this Government for road safety initiatives in 2009. This level of funding for the Road Safety Authority and the Medical Bureau of Road Safety will solidify the key role these organisations play in implementing the Road Safety Strategy. During the period 1997-2007 for example, we have seen deaths of our roads drop by 30% so this funding will help to augment this welcome downward trend.
The allocation of €48 million to maritime transport and safety will allow us to improve and modernise the Irish Coast Guard and continue to invest in maritime safety.”
The main transport programmes that Budget ‘09 provides for are as follows:
Public Transport – €1.27 billion
This will enable progress on a wide range of projects, including:
  • Luas extensions to Cherrywood, Docklands and Citywest;
  • Planning and enabling works on Metro North;
  • Planning works for the DART Interconnector.
  • Improved bus priority measures in Dublin and the regional cities;
  • The completion of the Middleton rail line
  • Phase 1 of the Western Rail Corridor from Ennis to Athenry;
  • The construction of the Kildare Route project
  • Phase 1 of the Navan rail line;
  • The continuation of Iarnród Éireann’s railway safety programme;
  • The start of the Dublin city centre rail re-signalling programme;
  • Continued roll-out of new railcars on the intercity routes;
Other notable projects that will be continued into 2009 are:
  • The Rural Transport Programme (now operating in every county and will provide more than million passenger journeys in 2009)
  • The Green Schools Programme (targeting 140,000 school kids by providing walking/cycling/public transport alternatives to get to school).
Roads – €2.1 billion
Key national routes will be progressed as planned, specifically:
  • The major inter urban motorway connecting Dublin with Waterford
  • The major inter urban motorway connecting Dublin with Galway
  • The major inter urban motorway connecting Dublin with Limerick
  • The major inter urban motorway connecting Dublin with Cork
  • A dual carriageway road within Northern Ireland transforming access to the North West of the Island.
  • The Atlantic Road corridor
  • The M50 upgrade will be completed.
Over €600 million is being made available to local authorities throughout the country for the upgrade and maintenance of regional and local roads.
Road Safety – €40 million
This funding will be aimed at maintaining the downward trend in road deaths. Deaths on Irish roads have dropped by 30 per cent in the period from 1997 to 2007.
Maritime Transport and Safety – €48 million
This allocation will allow us to improve and modernise the Irish Coast Guard and maritime safety to meet the needs of a 21st century maritime nation.
Regional Airports/Aviation Sector – € 35 million
The Department has made provisions to meet contractual commitments on the various regional airport projects and our share of the cost of the City of Derry Airport development.

Minister disputes Patton Flyer claims

Comments in Dail by Transport Minister claim operator applied for licence in 2007, not 2006

Patton Flyer links Dalkey to Dublin Airport

Patton Flyer links Dalkey to Dublin Airport

Further interesting information has emerged in the long-running saga of the Patton Flyer coach service in Dublin, which the Department of Transport says is being run without a licence.

The service, which links Dalkey and Blackrock to Dublin Airport via the Eastlink and the Port Tunnel runs hourly and is seen to be carrying healthy loadings. DoT officials say they reported the operator to the Gardai in August 2007 for operating without a licence, though what action has been taken as a result is unclear.

Back in March, we reported on claims that a very long delay in dealing with a licence application had forced the coach company to start the service without a licence. According to the operator, they had submitted an application in 2006, without reply.

Now recent comments on the record of the Dail (Irish parliment) by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey seem to dispute this version of events, as according to the Minister the operator only applied for the licence in early 2007.

Below is the full text of the minister’s Dail response when questioned.

Apart from the date of the application, this answer is interesting in that it confirms that the reason for the licence not being granted is, as long suspected, the prior application for a licence by Aircoach, whose Greystone to Dublin Airport service only meets the Patton Flyer along part of the route.

 23. Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Transport  if he will grant a licence to a bus service (details supplied) to operate a scheduled bus service between Dalkey and intermediary points such as Glasthule, Dún Laoghaire and Monkstown with Dublin Airport which are not served by an alternative bus operator; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32450/08]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Noel Dempsey): My Department received an application on the 20 February 2007 from the operator to whom the Deputy refers, for a licence to operate bus passenger services between Dalkey and Dublin Airport. At that time, my Department had on hands a prior application for bus services on a similar route, and in accordance with administrative procedures, applications were dealt with in date order. That prior application was finalised in December 2007 and a licence has issued to that operator for the provision of bus passenger services between Greystones and Dublin Airport.

In the case of the service referred to by the Deputy, on the 16 July 2007 my Department was made aware that the operator concerned had commenced the operation of an unlicensed bus passenger service between Dalkey and Dublin Airport. My Department immediately contacted that company and advised that failure to cease the operation of the service in respect of which a licence had not been issued under the Road Transport Act 1932, is an offence under section 7 of that Act. It is also a prerequisite before the making of an offer of a licence that in accordance with road traffic and safety legislation the applicant provides my Department with Garda approvals for all proposed bus stops along the route and holds a Road Passenger transport Operations Licence.

While there is a strong passenger demand for a service between Dalkey and Dublin Airport, my Department would only be prepared to make an offer of a licence to Patton Flyer if that company demonstrates that it would be prepared to operate in conformity with the law.

Flybus launched by Minister

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has officially launched the new FlyBus service linking Tallaght with Dublin Airport.

(left to right: Tony McConn of Dualway, Paddy Kavanagh of Eirebus, and Transport Minister Noel Dempsey cutting the ribbon to launch the new coach link)

Two of the Republic’s best known independent operators teamed up today to launch a new jointly operated service providing a high quality coach link between south county Dublin and Dublin Airport.

Dualway Coaches and Eirebus have worked together to start the new Flybus service, which will provide an hourly link between Tallaght, Clondalkin, Liffey Valley and the Airport via the M50 motorway. The service runs from 4am to 9pm.

3 new Mercedes Plaxton minicoaches fitted with 29 reclining seats will provide capacity for up to 8000 passenger journeys a week, and plans are in hand to further develop the service, according to Dualway Coaches founder Tony McConn.

“We have an initial investment in the service of nearly one million euro and have created 10 jobs, and we may increase frequency and could create another 10 jobs by the end of the year”.
Officially launching the service, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey paid tribute to the two operators as showcasing the finest that the private sector can offer, and said he was proud to be associated with the launch.

“As politicians we like to be associated with excellence, and that’s one of the things that you can say about the two operators involved in this venture, Dualway have won numerous awards for excellence, they are a serious company, a family run company who know what they are doing, and Eirebus who have many many years experience operating coach services are another fine example of the private sector”

Airport Solos

The Optare Solo is a classy fully-accessible minibus, which has started to appear in Ireland in recent years.

I’ve always liked Optare‘s buses, particularly the double-deck Spectra, and it’s a pity they never really caught on.

The Solo minibus is probably their best-selling product, a fully-accessible lowfloor bus, designed from the outset as a bus, and way more stylish than the van-derived minibuses offered by most other manufacturers.

For a long time there were no Solos in the Republic, but they can now be seen in increasing numbers with private operators on shuttle services, or town services outside Dublin (Port Laoise being one example).

Hertz at Dublin Airport have some very smartly liveried Solo buses for their shuttle service (above) while Bewleys Hotel have one in a less impressive livery to bring guests to their door.

I’ve often thought that buses such as these would be the ideal solution for Dublin mountain routes such as the 44B and 161, and they would also be ideally sized for the Palermo service in Bray.

Sadly, Dublin Bus do not seem to see their potential.

Low Down bus photographer

Going low can add interesting angles when photographing large vehicles. Crouching in a ditch is optional . . .

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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.

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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.

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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.

Patton Flyer expansion to challenge DOT

A pioneering independent bus service challenging the 1932 Act is a thorn in the side of the Department of Transport, but the operator says they only have themselves to blame.

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Fascinating article in the Irish Times today about plans by the operator of the unlicenced Patton Flyer bus service to expand with further routes. (paid registration required to view)

The service which has been running since last summer is, according to the Department of Transport, illegal, and they have referred its operation to the Gardai, though no action seems to have been taken yet.

Now the operator has announced plans to expand with a further 4 routes being designed, which could turn this minor irritation into a head-on challenge to the current licencing regime.

However Trevor Patton says that his company has attempted to comply with all relevant legislation, and has had a licence application for the original Dalkey service with the department since 2006.

From the Irish Times article:

Referring to the Dalkey route, Mr Patton said: “If there was a good reason why there should not be public transport on that route, then the Department of Transport should have been able to determine that reason in almost two years since the licence application was made.”

With publication of the Dublin Transportation Bill promised in December, January, February, before easter, and now “next month” the chances of the root cause of the issue being resolved any time soon are slim.

Minister Dempsey also promises reform of the bus licencing system, but can’t say when it will happen, telling the Dail recently that While it is not possible at this time to indicate a precise time as to when the legislative proposals on regulatory reform of the bus market will be published, applications for new bus licences and notifications from State bus operators will continue to be processed under the provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932, as amended, and the notification system with reference to the Transport Act 1958, as appropriate.”

Which would fine, if the licences were processed in a timely manner.

But again, like the case of the Swords Express and the Dublin Bus 41X licence application, the Department seems unable to make licence decisions in any kind of a reasonable timeframe.

And the losers, as always, are the passengers.

Long awaited Sutton-Airport link launches

More than 2 years in planning, the merger of the 230/102 finally happens

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(click on any picture for fullsize) 

The new incarnation of the 102 bus route, formed from a merger of the old 102 and 230 routes, started running in North east Dublin this morning, opening a link from Sutton to Dublin Airport for the first time, as well as providing a Sunday service on the Malahide to Airport section which didn’t have one before.

The picture above shows Harristown’s AV164 operating the first westbound trip from Sutton, at 1035.

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While good, the merger of the two routes could have been better, and it is troubling that the opportunity to provide earlier services into the airport was missed. A huge number of people from this route’s hinterland work in the airport, and the first westbound services are far too late on every day of the week (and too late for people catching early flights also.

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The revamp does open extra possibilities for transport though, linking the airport to the Howth branch of the DART rail network as well as the main northern spur.

A good move to bring these routes together, but a huge missed opportunity in terms of catering for the early morning market.