ONE IN TWELVE – Fresh Cream

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 takes us back to 2001 to remind ourselves how good the old blue & cream “core” livery could look when freshly painted.

RA248 about to turn onto Matt Talbot Bridge

RA248 about to turn onto Matt Talbot Bridge

I was always very fond of the blue & cream livery which I felt looked well not only when freshly painted, but also stayed good looking over the years inbetween repaints.

This picture of RA248 fresh from a midlife repaint shows how much nicer a freshly painted bus could look without the usual adframes.

RA248 spent a lot of its life in Phibsboro, but moved to Donnybrook for a while when it’s position as a potential tourbus was usurped by RA260, which had suffered upper-deck damage in a malicious fire at Dun Laoghaire. RA260 was repaired by conversion to open-top, and 248 came across to Donnybrook as a replacement.

RA farewell tour

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.

RA305, 302 and 176 at Dundrum LUAS station, which was the ideal location for group photos.

RA305, 302 and 176 at Dundrum LUAS station, which was the ideal location for group photos.

Lineup at Dundrum.

Lineup at Dundrum.

Trainer RA176, the first of the class, was guest of honour on the run!

Trainer RA176, the first of the class, was guest of honour on the run!

The new order - AX613, one of the buses whose transfer to Donnybrook brought about the end of the RAs, overtakes at the old 14 terminus on Braemor road

The new order - AX613, one of the buses whose transfer to Donnybrook brought about the end of the RAs, overtakes at the old 14 terminus on Braemor road

The RAs at Dun Laoghaire 46A terminus, showing the blinds custom-made for the occasion.

The RAs at Dun Laoghaire 46A terminus, showing the blinds custom-made for the occasion.

Dualway continues to develop

South Co. Dublin independent Dualway continue to expand and develop their fleet, with new service, city tour and coaching vehicles being added. Their older fleet is also of interest.

Above: 08-D-30, the first 08-reg decker to go into service in Dublin. (click on any photo for fullsize version). Dualway were the first to run lowfloor accessible buses on the city tour, and add at least one new lowfloor opentopper per year. This year’s delivery, an East Lancs bodied Volvo B9TL is the first to feature visual commentary for the hard of hearing, and to include Irish in the choice of languages on multilingual tours.

Above: Former Dublin Bus Olympian RA257 is retained in closed-top format for the time being, but may be open-topped later in the year.

Above: ex London United RML2720 is under conversion for special operations / publicity.

Above: 99-D-28988, an East Lancs Volvo Olympian used for private hire and tours, including contract work for Coca Cola.

Above: Dualway’s continued expansion has resulted in a need for further depot space, and a substantial extension to the parking area at the Rathcoole depot has recently come into operation, currently used to store the older “classic” members of the fleet, and recent acquisitions, making space in the main area for regular operational vehicles.

Ex-Dublin Bus RA299, recently acquired and awaiting overhaul or conversion, is currently stored in this new part of the depot.

RAs withdrawn at Donnybrook

More RA withdrawals.

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Above, RA261, 258, 259 withdrawn at Donnybrook (click on thumbnail for fullsize version)

The gradual withdrawal of the RA-class continues with RA261 at Donnybrook now off service, replaced by RV331 recently transferred from C/Road. RA261 has joined 258 and 259 in temporary storage in the far shed, pending disposal by the company (usually to a UK dealer such as Ensign or Southdown).

Meanwhile Ringsend has added RA298 to the list of withdrawn buses. All the Ringsend ones will be off within the next month as the cascade effect from the new VTs at Phibsboro completes, but Donnybrook will be left with a fleet of 15 operational RAs until mid-summer, when delivery of the next EVs commences.

Remaining in service at Donnybrook are: RA262, 263, 264, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 300, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306.

Farewell RA299

The gradual phasing out of the RA-type continues

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Above is Dublin Bus RA299, a 1996 Volvo Olympian at Ringsend Garage. Beside it is a newer 1999 RV-type Olympian, RV534, cascaded from Harristown as new VTs enter service at Phibsboro. The RVs are very similar to the RAs in many respects, but are slightly newer technology emissions wise, conforming to the Euro-II standard, and with a Volvo engine rather than the Cummins unit in the RAs.

To the general public, one bus type is much like another, but to the enthusiast similar buses can be very different, and even within the same type individual vehicles can acquire their own personality over years of observing them in service.

RA299 is one such bus, whose passing from the fleet I will mourn more than others.

Although it ended up at Ringsend in its final years, RA299 spent much of its life in Donnybrook, and for a number of years was allocated to the 75 route.

The RAs were known for their unusual howling sound-effect at this stage, due to a fan issue, and RA299 seemed to have it worse than most, being the loudest RA in the garage at that stage.

For a year or so in 2002/2, I needed to get into town before 7am, and the earliest buses on the 14/A and 48A were not early enough to do this for me. The 16 was not yet extended to Ballinteer, but there was an early, unscheduled 16A from Nutgrove Avenue, worked by a Donnybrook bus which would get me to town in time. To reach this, I would catch the first westbound 75, which passed along Broadford Road at around 0610. In the early morning stillness, I could hear RA299 at least a mile away, when it was still on Ballinteer Road, the howling getting louder as it turned onto Ballinteer Avenue, and eventually reaching maximum as it came around the corner onto Broadford Road.

There was never any chance of my missing this bus, it could be heard coming so far away that a gentle stroll to the stop at the last minute would suffice.

Later I changed my commuting habits, and no longer needed the early bus, and the extension of the 16 and the new early 0620 departure means that the early 75 would no longer be needed in any case.

The 75 now has RVs, and RA299 transferred to Ringsend a couple of years ago, where it lived out its final years on the 15s and 77s.

It is scheduled to be withdrawn this week, as its DoE cert expires, and will soon make its way over to the UK along with the rest of the batch. Indeed, it may already be withdrawn, and sitting on the pits in the picture above ready to be prepared for departure.

Who knows where it will end up – maybe in some leafy Essex lane a schoolboy will be waiting each morning, able to hear his schoolbus coming a mile away as it howls through the countryside.