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.

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.

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.