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.


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.





Dublin (Not So) Mini Coach [27June2013]


Dublin Mini Coaches have long operated shuttle services serving Eastpoint Business Park in Dublin’s Docklands, which although host to thousands of high-tech workers is not directly on any public transport route. The business park, built on reclaimed land, is linked by shuttles to Clontarf DART (rail) station, as well as The Point (for O2) and Spenser Dock LUAS tram stops.

Buses used on the service have increased in size over the years, from mini to midi to fullsize single-deckers, and now the firm has acquired its first double-decker for the contract, an Alexander ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL imported from the UK.  Re-registered 02-D-120370 (the high number bearing testimony to its import status) the bus is seen here on East Road.


Matthews take more Volvo coaches



from the Volvo Press Release files

Co Monaghan based Matthews Coach Hire have taken five Volvo B9R coaches with Plaxton Panther bodywork, just weeks after taking their first ever new Volvo – the B12B with Plaxton Elite body which was exhibited at last year’s Euro Bus Expo 2008.

Noel Matthews, Fleet Manager of Matthews Coach Hire explained, “There are a number of reasons for choosing Volvo products this time, not least because the Volvo name is associated with reliability. When we demonstrated the B12B tri-axle Plaxton Elite it returned excellent fuel figures, along with the outstanding driveability of the I-Shift. The fact that the B9R is lighter and the driveline incorporates the I-Shift will hopefully give us even better fuel returns.”

Noel continued, “Volvo coach products come with competition beating warranty terms – two years, plus third year driveline – and the products benefit from superb support through Volvo’s aftermarket, which, where we are based, means that we can utilise both Irish Commercials and Dennison Commercials.

“A quarter of our 24 vehicle fleet is now Volvo and we will be closely monitoring the six new vehicles’ performances, but from what we have seen from the B12B we are very optimistic for them all.”

The B9Rs are specified with Volvo’s 9.4 litre D9B engine rated at 380hp and I-Shift combination. In a theatre-style configuration, the 57 seats have leather headrests and three-point seat belts, climate control air conditioning, audio/visual system, a seven camera CCTV system, GPS tracking and fleet management system, Wi-Fi capability and are fitted with electronic destination equipment.

Matthews Coach Hire are proud of their 100% safety record. So committed are they to promoting road safety that they were the first operator in Ireland to introduce Alcolock starter inhibiters, which immobilise the vehicle on detection of alcohol, and they are now fitted across their entire fleet.

The Volvo B9R comes with safety as standard, with all round disc brakes, ABS with ASR and their latest generation of Electronic Braking System incorporates Hill Start Aid, Emergency Braking Assistance and Brake Blending, whilst Volvo’s VR3250 compact retarder offers very powerful auxiliary braking, resulting in considerably reduced brake wear too.

James Hyde, Regional Coach Sales Manager commented, “We’re delighted to have our first B9Rs in operation in Ireland. The product has obvious benefits such as the weight advantage and the clean and efficient driveline, making it a versatile option for operators for a number of applications.”

Matthews Coach Hire was founded in 1995 by Paddy and Mary Matthews and remains family owned and operated by them, their three sons – Noel, Paddy Jnr and Gerard – and a team of 45 employees. The company specialises in private hire, daily commuter services and their own tour programme throughout Ireland and Europe.

Dempsey – new bus licencing legislation in 2009


Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has said that legislation to reform bus licencing throughout the Republic of Ireland will be brought forward in 2009.

Responding to a Dail question by Sean McEntee, suggesting the reform be brought forward to allow private operators access to the market in order to reduce the CIE group subsidy, Mr Dempsey said that the existing system under the 1932 Act would continue to facilitate licence applications until new legislation was introduced.


Transport Minister Noel Dempsey (photo: AllAboutBuses.com)

Noel Dempsey Dail Reply

“The Agreed Programme for Government includes a commitment to improving bus services under Transport 21 by reforming the bus licensing provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932, to facilitate the optimum provision of services by providing a level playing field for all market participants, both public and private. 

The legislative framework to support the authorisation and provision of improved public bus services in the Greater Dublin Area has already been updated through the passage of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, which establishes a new contractual structure relating to the provision of subvented bus services in the Greater Dublin Area.

It is my intention that proposals for a new bus licensing regime will be contained in a Public Transport Regulation Bill which will deal with the replacement of the Road Transport Act 1932 and the provisions of the Transport Act 1958 that relate to the provision of bus services by the State bus companies. It is envisaged that the new licensing structure will apply in respect of all commercial bus services, including those provided by Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann, and will encompass provisions relating to the subvented bus market outside the Greater Dublin Area in a manner consistent with EU Regulation No. 1370/2007 on public service obligations and similar to the contractual framework used in the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008.

Until the proposed legislation is enacted, applications for new bus licences and notifications from State bus operators will continue to be processed under the provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932, as amended, and the notification system with reference to the Transport Act 1958, as appropriate.  

The Government has committed to examining the need for a National Transport Regulator in the context of the overall review of the economic regulatory environment.  As part of the public transport regulatory reform programme, consideration is being given to the establishment of a national transport authority.  

The Public Transport Regulation Bill is included in the Government Legislative Programme in the list of Bills that have yet to be approved by Government.  It is my intention to seek Government approval to a General Scheme of the Bill before the end of the year with a view to publication in 2009″.


Some of the faces photographed for AllAboutBuses over the years.

Jimmy Hendricks, always top of my list.

Jimmy Hendricks, always top of my list.

Jimmy Hendricks is a man to whom I owe a lot. The Maint. Controller of Donnybrook 2 through the 1970s and 1980s, it was Jimmy who gave me, as a 12 year old schoolboy, my first ever invitation to come inside a bus depot. Jimmy had seen me hanging around outside peering in at the buses, and over the next 23 years up to his retirement in 1999 he welcomed me on hundreds of occasions, as I photographed and questioned and generally made a pest of myself.

Jimmy retired in the summer of 1999, and this photo was taken by me on his last day at work, posed with the newest bus in the fleet which had been delivered just hours earlier.

Joe Collins & Alan Westwell

Joe Collins & Alan Westwell

Joe Collins (left) was the PR man for Dublin Bus for many years, and a great friend of this site, championing us to the Dublin Bus management, and providing access to a lot of information and help. Joe was also very involved in organising the final KD run with us in January 2000, making sure that the chairman of CIE attended, along with John Browne the former head of Dublin City Services in CIE days and a man associated with the launch of the type. Joe’s retirement was a great loss to the company, though his immediate replacement, Christy Dorman was also very helpful and served the company well.

Dr Alan Westwell (right) was Managing Director of the company through a period of great expansion, and a very experienced transport manager. He was not afraid to stand up for the company, criticising the government at the official opening of Harristown Depot, and his unexpected retirement shortly afterwards was regretted by many.

Joe Collins with Christy Dorman at the AV launch on 9th November 2000

Joe Collins with Christy Dorman at the AV launch on 9th November 2000

Christy Dorman replaced Joe in the PR team, and was a friendly and approachable face for both enthusiasts and press for a number of years. He now works on other projects within the company.

Mary O'Rourke at the launch of the AV class

Mary O'Rourke at the launch of the AV class at the Point Depot in November 2000

Joe Collins and Mary O'Rourke share a few words at the AV launch

Joe Collins and Mary O'Rourke

Mary O’Rourke was Transport Minister for several years up to the 2002 election, and was responsible for obtaining the extra funding for all of the “euro” buses delivered in 1999 and 2000. I spoke to her at a number of functions covered by the site, and she had a rare gift for making you feel like you were the only person in the room when she was talking to you. No shiftily looking around to see if there was someone more important to talk to, as other Ministers do!

Martin Cullen, Paul Kavanagh & J J Kavanagh

Martin Cullen, Paul Kavanagh & J J Kavanagh

Transport Minister in 2005, Martin Cullen seen here at the launch of a new fleet of coaches in 2005, with the operators Paul and J J Kavanagh.

J J Kavanagh is one of the most successful private operators in Ireland, a very direct and no-nonsense businessman. I’ve always found him easy to deal with when approaching him as an enthusiast or journalist.

Brian Cowen & Martin Cullen at the Transport 21 launch

Brian Cowen & Martin Cullen at the Transport 21 launch

Bertie Aherne and a very bald journalist at the LUAS test run to Stephens Green. Unfortunately Seamus Brennan is mostly hidden in the left of the shot.

Bertie Aherne and a very bald cameraman at the LUAS test run to Stephens Green. Unfortunately Seamus Brennan is mostly hidden in the left of the shot.

Political Launches often make for poor photo ops for the genuine transport journalists as the mainstream press with little interest in the launch crowd forward to ask about the lastest scandal or topic of the day.

I was lucky enough to get a front row seat at the Transport 21 launch and some good shots, but the LUAS arrival at Stephens Green was a total scrum!

The staff of Mangan Tours, friendliest operator in the country!

Joe Mangan (third from left) and the staff of Mangan Tours, friendliest operator in the country!

Mangans Tours are a small but very successful operator in Co. Donegal, and one of the most welcoming of the many private operators I’ve had the pleasure of visiting over the years.

Locals protest against plans to axe the 48A in 2005

Locals protest against plans to axe the 48A in 2005

Nellie & Michael Corcoran on the 50th anniversary of the preservation of R1

Nellie & Michael Corcoran on the 50th anniversary of the preservation of R1

Saving the best for last, the grandfather of the preservation movement in Ireland and founder of the National Transport Museum, Michael Corcoran, with his wife Nellie, on October 1st 2006, the 50th anniversary of the withdrawal of R1 from service.

ONE IN TWELVE – Public Private Partnership

Unique photo? Private bus operating normal Dublin Bus service

Unique photo? Private bus operating normal Dublin Bus service

The replacement of a watermain at Ballymore Eustace in Co. Kildare in 2005 resulted in the somewhat unique situation of a normal Dublin Bus service being partly operated by a private operator, MacDiarmada. The diversion routes were too narrow for any buses in the DB fleet.

Although independents have operated Schoolink service for many years, this was a fully fledged normal bus service. The private minibus operated the southern section of the 65, meeting the Dublin Buses at Blessington.

At the Ballymore Eustace terminus.

At the Ballymore Eustace terminus.

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 – The Musical Tour

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 we remember a very short-lived tour operation in Dublin.

Click on any picture for the fullsize version.

Ailsa 83-WD-468 on the short-lived Musical Tour

Ailsa 83-WD-463 on the short-lived Musical Tour

Alongside Dublin Bus and Dualway there have been other smaller tour operators in the city, such as Viking Tours, and, a few years ago, The Musical Bus.

This short-lived operation departed from the North side of St. Stephens Green close to Dawson Street, and boasted a live band on board for each tour.

The bus was an Ailsa, imported second-hand from the UK by J J Kavanagh and used for a while on Naas Town Service before being converted and sold on to this one-bus operation.

The Musical Bus did not last long, and I’ve no idea what happened to the vehicle afterwards.

New Volvos for Ballincollig

Volvo Bus)

Ballincollig Coaches new Volvo B7R coaches (photo: Volvo Bus)


Ballincollig Coaches of Co Cork have just taken delivery of two Volvo B7R Sunsundeguis.

Purchased as part of a programme of fleet modernisation, the new coaches will be used for touring throughout Ireland and also into Scotland.

The family run firm had not bought Volvo for some years but were impressed by the B7R/ Sunsundegui combination. “It’s very stylish looking so helps to create the right impression; it’s very comfortable; and there’s great luggage space – all of which is perfect for our requirements,” explained Managing Director, Donal O’Callaghan. “Add to that the fact that the Euro/Sterling rate is so favourable to us at the moment, there was no excuse not to buy!”

Specified with Volvo’s D7C 7.1 litre common rail fuel injection engine rated at 290hp, combined with a ZF six-speed gearbox, the 53 seat coaches feature full double glazing, air conditioning, DVD player and reversing camera.

Ballincollig plan to use them on incoming tours which make up a large part of their business. “We shall be very busy over the next few months, particularly with French and American students requiring sightseeing tours, and these coaches really are ideal for the task,” said Donal.

Established 20 years ago, Ballincollig’s 15-strong fleet ranges from six seaters to full size executive coaches. The company runs its own programme of two to three day short breaks and seven to ten day tours. In addition, a variety of specialist breaks are arranged for incoming tourists, ranging from historic sightseeting and pilgrimage tours to short breaks for fishing, golf, gardening and art enthusiasts.


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 we go to 2001 for the launch of the short-lived Aerdart service.

Aerdart DLA7 seen before entering service in 2001

Aerdart DLA7 seen before entering service in 2001

Sample through Bus/Rail ticket

Sample through Bus/Rail ticket

The launch of the Aerdart service by DelGro (owners of Metroline in London) seemed to show the start of an interest in the Dublin market by the large players in the UK bus scene (and was to be followed over the next couple of years by the entry into the Irish market of First and Veoila). The route linked Dublin Airport to the DART rail network at Howth Junction, running 7 days a week, with through ticketing to or from any station in the Dublin area.

The Aerdart service eventually foundered however, with the company blaming poor interchange facilities at Howth Junction where passengers had to lug their baggage up and down sets of stairs, and frequent closure of weekend DART services for engineering works.

The photo was taken on Saturday 31st March 2001, a few days before the launch of the route. I was lucky enough to meet up with a visiting Delgro executive who took the bus out for me to photograph, and printed the sample ticket above. He also explained to me that Metroline bosses had assumed they would use their existing livery for the Irish service, but that local staff had warned that red white and blue might not be the most sensitive of livery choices for this market!

The buses themselves were very smartly turned out Dennis Dart SLF Pointers, dual door with luggage space.

ONE IN TWELVE – Killarney by Doubledecker

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 photo is from 1998, looking at a short-lived double-deck operation in Co. Kerry.

The Killarney Tour was operating with this double-decker in 1998

The Killarney Tour was operating with this double-decker 78-KY-601 in 1998

Although the site originally focussed mainly on Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann vehicles, independents were included as and when I came across them. At the time the site started, and up until June 2000, I was living in the UK, so the opportunity for pictures outside Dublin was limited.

Visiting Kerry over the Easter weekend in 1998, I was surprised to come across this independently operated sightseeing tour in Killarney using what looks like an ex West Midlands Fleetline (possibly Roe bodied, though if it is ex-WM it would be more likely to be MCW).

The Killarney Tour operated a couple of trips a day, taking in the town and environs, as well as Muckross and the Gap of Dunloe – a stunning journey in a double-decker, and I was sorry that I didn’t have the time to take a trip on it while I was there.

By the next time I came to Kerry in 1999, the operation had vanished, and I haven’t seen it since.

I wonder what became of the bus – there can’t be that many Kerry-registered double-deckers around?