(Dublin) Soon To Be Sold [29June2013]

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With a further 80 new double-deckers due to arrive into the fleet from mid-July 2013, Dublin Bus will be making further inroads into the originally 648 strong fleet of ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TLs.  A handful were sold last year after the final Olympians were culled, but this year will see a cull of more than 60 members of the AV class, being taken from those 00-registered vehicles which have not had LED destination indicators refitted, and retain the older, harder to read dot matrix displays.

Donnybrook will be the first garage to get new buses, so the days are numbered for AV137, see here at the Ticknock terminus of route 114 on Saturday 29th June 2013.

Contrast this picture to that of the terminus of London route 114 a couple of posts earlier – the Dublin version is somewhat more scenic!buses

ONE IN TWELVE – Morning Glory

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.

Bus Eireann VC39 heads into the sunrise on the first scheduled departure from Macroom.

Bus Eireann VC39 heads into the sunrise on the first scheduled departure from Macroom.

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.

Dublin Bus AV92 working early morning 14 trips before Coastal Tour duties

Dublin Bus AV92 working early morning 14 trips before Coastal Tour duties

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.

Belfield morning shots

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

Bus Eireann Scania/Irizar SC263

Bus Eireann Scania/Irizar SC263

AV25 has arrived in as a 70B

AV25 has arrived in as a 70B

Route 17 is still Olympian operated. RV443 is seen heading for Blackrock

Route 17 is still Olympian operated. RV443 is seen heading for Blackrock

AV43 has arrived into Belfield as a euro-duty 25X

AV43 has arrived into Belfield as a euro-duty 25X

 . . . and departs for town as a 46A

. . . and departs for town as a 46A

AV303 on duty 10/10 with another 10 behind it. Note the contrasting James Bond ads.

AV303 on duty 10/10 with another 10 behind it. Note the contrasting James Bond ads.

Belarmine Buses

Belarmine, close to Stepaside has finally got a decent all-day bus service with the arrival of the Dublin Bus 47 route, linking in with the frequent Stillorgan QBC.

AV328 seen at the terminus deep within the Belarmine estate. The service is operated as a fully lowfloor route with Volvo B7TL ALX400s.

AV328 seen at the terminus deep within the Belarmine estate. The service is operated as a fully lowfloor route with Volvo B7TL ALX400s.

RV585 arriving on the evening direct service from Dublin city - route 117.

RV585 arriving on the evening direct service from Dublin city - route 117.

Stops in Belarmine have been correctly dressed with the new timetables, and planning permission for shelters is being sought.

Stops in Belarmine have been correctly dressed with the new timetables, and planning permission for shelters is being sought.

AV file

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!

Finglas Forays over the years

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.

2008

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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.

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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.

2003

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 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.

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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.

2000

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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.

1982

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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.

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.

AV167’s de-roofing (in 2001)

FROM THE ARCHIVE: After only a couple of months in service, AV167 was deroofed in a low bridge accident in May 2001.

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Above: a rear view of Dublin Bus Volvo B7TL/Alexander ALX400 AV167 awaiting repair following a low bridge accident in May 2001. Nobody was injured in the incident, despite the fact that the bus was in service on route 19A at the time.

The bus driver became lost while on diversion off the normal line of route due to the St. Patrick’s Day parade, which was taking place in May having been cancelled in March due to Foot & Mouth restrictions. I can’t remember which exact bridge was responsible, either Sandwith Street or Macken Street is possible, as the route had been diverted via Merrion Square South and Clare Street.

AV167 was more or less brand new at the time, having been delivered and put into service early in 2001 (despite the 00 registration). It was based at Broadstone, and worked the 19/A along with the other AV160s.

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AV167 was off service for almost a year, but eventually returned to traffic and can now be found at Harristown, working various routes, including recently the 102.

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The upstairs of the bus, showing how it had been stripped of seating and prepared for reconstruction.

This shot gives us an unusual opportunity to see the “double-skin” construction of the outside shell of the ALX400 body.

Were this accident to happen now, the bus would probably be converted to an open-top tour vehicle, but at the time there was no question of a brand new lowfloor bus not being put back into normal passenger service.

As a result of this accident, the company tightened up on the marking and supervision of diversion routes during big public events, and paid special attention to drivers who might not be familiar with the city.

Wide Open Spaces on the 161

Work on extending the “Green Route” westwards has transformed Fortification Hill, a formerly notorious stretch of road between Whitechurch and Grange Road.

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Dublin Bus Volvo B7TL/ALX400 AV327 operating on route 161 passes along a new stretch of road on Fortification Hill, between Grange Road and Whitechurch. The bus is one of a trio of closed-top vehicles to wear the tours livery normally used by open-toppers – these 3 buses work normal service routes when not required foruse on the North Coast & South Coast tours. The livery itself is currently being replaced by a new two-tone metallic green treatment.

My previous posting about the Ticknock area and how much it has changed brought to mind another location nearby where a major transformation has just taken place – the small piece of windy twisty road linking Whitechurch with Grange Road, hemmed in between Grange Golf Club on one side, and St. Enda’s Park on the other, which rejoices in the rather military sounding name of “Fortification Hill”

This was always a terrifying piece of road, especially for bus-drivers, barely wide enough for two-way traffic, with high stone walls on both sides right at the edge of the road (no footpaths) and hilly blind corners. Passing a car and bus was bad enough, but when two buses or a bus and a truck met in opposite directions, progress could be inch by inch.

The major reconstruction that has just opened here took land from the Golf Club, and you would not recognise the stretch of road now – not only is it wide enough for two full traffic lanes, and two generous footpaths, but it has cycle lanes and even a buslane too!

Plus you can now see clearly from end to end.

The above picture is looking towards Grange Road, and the one below is looking down Fortification Hill towards Whitechurch, where the “Green Route” project has widened the to road onwards past Morton’s depot.

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AV7Xs repaint cycle

As Donnybrook’s early AVs go through their third repaint cycle, AllAboutBuses presents some “then and now” photos.

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At Donnybrook Garage today, AV74 is undergoing body refurbishment as preperation for its slot in the regular three year repaint cycle. (click on any picture for fullsize version).

All panels are indspected and any damaged ones replaced, as well as any neccessary structural work or internal refurbishment. Delivered in October 2000 as part of the batch AV69-92 to Donnybrook, this is the third time through the cycle for this bus – first done in 2003, it just missed the start of the new livery programme, and was done again in 2005 to get into the new colours, now being due again.

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AV71, done a couple of weeks ago, shows how the finished product looks after respray. This time round, although the colours stay the same, the new corporate branding is being applied, ditching the italitcs in favour of a cleaner, bolder look.

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It doesn’t seem like 5 years ago that I took this shot of AV73 at Donnybrook, finished preperation and waiting to be driven to the contractor for it’s first cycle respray.

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AV77 above, just back from its first respray in summer 2003, showing how smart the original “core” blue and cream looked.

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At the same time that this batch of Donnybrook AVs were getting their first repaints, Dublin Bus were coming to move to a new corporate colour scheme, to replace the then existing Core, CitySwift and City Imp liveries.

Thirty one different variations had been designed on paper and rejected, but the thirty-second design looked promising, and AV76, which happened to be in for respray, was to be the bus which would get it in trial version.

It is seen above on its first day on the road in the new colours. Although it looks unremarkable now, its arrival at the time evoked a lot of comment and interest. There were to be a couple of other trial liveries, and AV76 itself went back to the painter to have the shade of light blue changed slightly, so it was 3 months before any other buses got the new “fleet standard” colours, and in the meantime more new buses (AV331-362) had been delivered in blue & cream and CitySwift liveries.

When full repaints to the new scheme commenced, Donnybrook’s AV134 was the first routine repaint, while RV412 was the first Olympian to wear the new colours.

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.