MONDAY MORNING CLASSIC: New Olympian (Dublin, 1998)

AllAboutBuses invites you to banish the Monday morning back-to-work blues with a spot of time travel . .

This week we jump back in time to 1998 and a brand new Olympian . .

 

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Dublin Bus built up a large fleet of Leyland and Volvo Olympians during the 1990s, eventually numbering 640 strong.  Disposals began in 2002, and the last was withdrawn from service in December 2012.

Here we see brand new RV427 in 1998, one of 60 Olympians delivered that year, and sporting the then brand new “core” livery of blue, cream and orange.

(History) 10 Years Of “Fleet Standard” [26Aug2013]

10 years ago the 1000+ vehicles in the Dublin Bus fleet were in a mish-mash of liveries – Blue & Cream “Core” livery for many services, White, Blue & Orange “City Swift” for QBC services, Red & Yellow “City Imp” for smaller buses . . and with no real demarcation of liveries to different types of service . . a mess.

And then, on the 7th of August 2003, AllAboutBuses.com was first to publish pictures of the arrival of AV76 back from the paint shops in a trial colour scheme that, when adopted three months later, we christened “Fleet Standard”

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The first bus in the new livery – AV76 has just arrived into Donnybrook, and is having its advert grips refitted.

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After inspection AV76 was returned to the painting contractor for a slight alteration to the upper shade of blue, which was made fractionally darker.

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Two days later, 9th August 2003, and AV76 is on the road for the first time in the new colour scheme.

After a couple of other colours were tried (on AV84) the yellow and blue combination seen here was adopted as the new fleet standard, and from December of 2003 repaints commenced into the new colours (AV134 being the second bus into the livery) , with new deliveries arriving in fleet standard from 2004 onwards.

Over the next three years of the repaint cycle, all the other liveries were swept away, with the sole exception of the white “Wedding Bus” specials.

ONE IN TWELVE – VanHool Tours

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.

Click on any picture for the fullsize version.

D635 in tour bus guise

D635 in tour bus guise

During the early years of this site, when I ran it while living in the UK, I would usually visit Dublin twice a year or so to get fresh photos and see what was happening on the scene. No such visit was complete without a ride on the city tour, which gave me the opportunity to travel on the VanHools of my youth, which were by the mid 90s gone from normal service.

Of all the buses used on the tour service, my favourites were D635 and DF760, both of which I had known from new in the mid 1970s. 760 had been allocated to my “home” garage, Donnybrook, and although it didn’t work my local routes, I still considered it one of “my ” buses.

I had even stronger memories of D635 however, as despite being a Summerhill bus, it was allocated to a route which came very close to home – so close in fact, that it could be seen from a vantage point at the top of the tall pine tree which grew in our back garden. I had been given a telescope for Christmas one year, and discovered that by climbing to the top of the tree, I could just see the 16As turning round at the Bottle Tower through a gap between the houses. I spent several happy afternoons up the tree watching the buses through the telescope, until complaints from the neighbours to my parents brought a quick end to the practice – they were not so sure it was buses I was watching (though in all innocence, it was! )

When not up a tree, I would often wander over to the Bottle Tower junction, where all the local routes – 14, 14A, 16A, 17, 47A and 61 could be watched together. D635 was a regular on the 16A, and stood out because it was out of sequence from the rest of the route’s allocation, which consisted of D665-669, and 673-699.

The odd ones out were 634, 635 and 644 which had somehow escaped being allocated to Clontarf (through 634/5 were to be sent there in an allocation tidying excercise in 1980).

D635 had a brief spell in Donnybrook in the early 90s, thus becoming one of a small number of buses which would have worked the Churchtown area as both a 14/A and a 16A.

I was pleased to come across it surviving on tours in the late 1990s, and even more pleased that it eventually survived all the others in the system as a tree-lopper to become both the last VanHool owned by Dublin Bus, and the last two-tone green vehicle in the fleet at the time of it’s eventual disposal in February 2003.

Even that is not the end of the story for D635, which has survived in private hands in tree-lopping format, and is currently undergoing renovation to become a special event vehicle.

Given my childhood method of observing the new VanHools on the 16A, it is somewhat appropriate that this bus became a tree-lopper – perhaps there is a message there somewhere?

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.

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!

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.