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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RV334 into Ensign’s own fleet

Ex Dublin Bus RV334 is now 195 in the Ensignbus fleet

Ex Dublin Bus RV334 is now 195 in the Ensignbus fleet

UK dealer Ensignbus, who have handled the disposal of large numbers of Leyland and Volvo  Olympians for Dublin Bus have just added one of the most recent sales, RV334 into their own operational fleet.
Converted to single-door, with LED display and looking stunning in the operator’s blue and silver livery, RV334 (now No.195) will work a variety of services including rail replacement work in central and outer London, as well as local services in Essex.

ONE IN TWELVE – Second Time Round

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 the picture to open the fullsize version.

Bright bus on a dark morning - RH41 with Mortons

Bright bus on a dark morning - RH41 with Mortons

Today’s picture is one of those “lucky shots” that happens from time to time (if you remember to bring your camera with you everywhere).

Mortons commuter services (which later became Circle Line) almost always used buses bought new or ex-demo for it’s services, and in recent years it was rare to see anything older than 1999.

However, Mortons did own a former Dublin Bus RH-type Olympian for a short period around 2003, and this was used from time to time on the CL services. One very gloomy winters morning I managed to capture it in Nassau Street. RH41 was formerly a Donnybrook bus, and is now open-topped and working for Cronin’s in Cork.

Below: bonus pic of RH41 in April 2002, shortly before being withdrawn.

29th April 2002 - RH41 at Donnybrook

29th April 2002 - RH41 at Donnybrook

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?

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.

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.

More ex-DB Olympians find home at Dualways

While visiting Dualway to file a report for CBW Magazine on new additions to their very fine coaching fleet, I unexpectedly came across some old friends from the Bus Atha Cliath fleet in exile.

Dualway has built up quite a fleet of former Dublin Bus RH types, but they are now acquiring some of the more modern RA (Volvo) Olympians now that these are being sold by Dublin Bus.

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ex-RA273 – click for fullsize image

Former Clontarf bus RA273, which hung on in service on the 130 route until very recently, has already had its open-top conversion and repaint, and looks just about ready to go on the road.

Dualway do most of their own engineering work, and to a very high standard too.

Note the 3-bay-covered conversion – given the huge amount of rain we had last summer, you can’t blame the company for hedging their bets!

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Former Donnybrook bus RA256 is next to get attention, and is seen here in the workshop at the assessment stage.

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Sister vehicle RA257 is also acquired, and is currently stored in the depot pending refurbishment.

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Dualway also has a growing fleet of purpose-built lowfloor accessible open-toppers, with another due to arrive shortly, but these were all out earning their keep while I was there.

The above shot shows one of Dualways covered-top lowfloor buses, and some of the Routemasters acquired for sightseeing work a couple of years ago – use of these tends to be seasonal, and for special events.

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Finally, I musn’t forget to mention the coach I had come to see, a new 08-registered MarcoPolo/DAF which has just joined the coaching fleet. Dualway do a lot of private hire and some corporate coaching, and have built up a quality fleet of modern coaches, all bought new, over the last several years.

As well as sight-seeing and coaching, the firm operates local services in southwest Dublin, particularly around Tallaght and Rathcoole, and has lowfloor accessible single-deck buses as well as the double-decks.

All in all, a firm to watch, with nice mix of the modern and the classic, and setting the standards for the best in private operation.