QUICK-PIC (Dublin) – Clearing The Road [26July2013]

Route 33 is one of the longest on the network of Dublin Bus, taking in a number of coastal towns in North Co. Dublin (Balbriggan, Skerries and Rush) before running through open country, eventually reaching the outskirts of Dublin at Swords.

From there in it shares the road with the much more frequent 41 group of routes.

However Volvo B9TL / Wright Gemini GT57 seems to have caught a gap in the 41 service, and is getting heavily loaded at stops inbound along the Swords Road on yet another baking hot day.

The 33 also has an express variant, 33X, which avoids this part if the route and takes the motorway for a good part of the trip.

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Buses at Beaumont Hospital

Volvo B6RLE / Wright WV41 on orbital route 104 at Beaumont Hospital

Volvo B6RLE / Wright WV41 on orbital route 104 at Beaumont Hospital

Volvo B9TL/ADL Enviro 400 EV37 loads at Beaumont Hospital on its way to Harristown.

Volvo B9TL/ADL Enviro 400 EV37 loads at Beaumont Hospital on its way to Harristown.

AV238, unable to properly access the stop at the hospital due to illegally parked cars.

AV238, unable to properly access the stop at the hospital due to illegally parked cars.

Throughout most of the day motorists can be seen blocking the bus stops at the hospital and preventing wheelchair accessible buses from accessing the stops, but little action seems to be taken by the hospital authorities.

Throughout most of the day motorists can be seen blocking the bus stops at the hospital and preventing wheelchair accessible buses from accessing the stops, but little action seems to be taken by the hospital authorities.

ONE IN TWELVE – Lost Location

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 look at a picture taken 11 years ago which can never be recreated – not only is the bus long gone, but the location itself has vanished forever.

Click on any picture for the fullsize version.

Bombardier KD105 parked on the now vanished ramp up to Connolly Station.

Bombardier KD105 parked on the now vanished ramp up to Connolly Station

When this site first started back in 1996, virtually the entire fleet of 366 Bombardier/GM double-deckers were still in service with Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann, and the first 4 years or so of the site recorded their steady decline and eventual scrapping.

This picture, taken in 1997, shows a typical Dublin KD – Clontarf’s KD105 – in the two-tone green livery in which they ran all of their lives, the only modification being the introduction of a thin orange band and logo when Dublin Bus devolved from CIE.

This picture, taken on a wet Friday in May, reminds me of how useful the ramp up to Connolly Station was as a location for layovers. Behind the KD are a couple of Bus Eireann vehicles, including a VC which would probably still be in service today. The location no longer exists – the ramp was levelled and removed in 2002 to make way for the new LUAS Red Line tramway station which opened in 2004.

KD105 is here resting on duty 3/27B – it had been delivered new to Clontarf in February 1982, and was one of the batch which replaced the last open platform Leyland PD3 buses at that garage.

ONE IN TWELVE – Aerdart

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.

Minister disputes Patton Flyer claims

Comments in Dail by Transport Minister claim operator applied for licence in 2007, not 2006

Patton Flyer links Dalkey to Dublin Airport

Patton Flyer links Dalkey to Dublin Airport

Further interesting information has emerged in the long-running saga of the Patton Flyer coach service in Dublin, which the Department of Transport says is being run without a licence.

The service, which links Dalkey and Blackrock to Dublin Airport via the Eastlink and the Port Tunnel runs hourly and is seen to be carrying healthy loadings. DoT officials say they reported the operator to the Gardai in August 2007 for operating without a licence, though what action has been taken as a result is unclear.

Back in March, we reported on claims that a very long delay in dealing with a licence application had forced the coach company to start the service without a licence. According to the operator, they had submitted an application in 2006, without reply.

Now recent comments on the record of the Dail (Irish parliment) by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey seem to dispute this version of events, as according to the Minister the operator only applied for the licence in early 2007.

Below is the full text of the minister’s Dail response when questioned.

Apart from the date of the application, this answer is interesting in that it confirms that the reason for the licence not being granted is, as long suspected, the prior application for a licence by Aircoach, whose Greystone to Dublin Airport service only meets the Patton Flyer along part of the route.

 23. Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Transport  if he will grant a licence to a bus service (details supplied) to operate a scheduled bus service between Dalkey and intermediary points such as Glasthule, Dún Laoghaire and Monkstown with Dublin Airport which are not served by an alternative bus operator; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32450/08]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Noel Dempsey): My Department received an application on the 20 February 2007 from the operator to whom the Deputy refers, for a licence to operate bus passenger services between Dalkey and Dublin Airport. At that time, my Department had on hands a prior application for bus services on a similar route, and in accordance with administrative procedures, applications were dealt with in date order. That prior application was finalised in December 2007 and a licence has issued to that operator for the provision of bus passenger services between Greystones and Dublin Airport.

In the case of the service referred to by the Deputy, on the 16 July 2007 my Department was made aware that the operator concerned had commenced the operation of an unlicensed bus passenger service between Dalkey and Dublin Airport. My Department immediately contacted that company and advised that failure to cease the operation of the service in respect of which a licence had not been issued under the Road Transport Act 1932, is an offence under section 7 of that Act. It is also a prerequisite before the making of an offer of a licence that in accordance with road traffic and safety legislation the applicant provides my Department with Garda approvals for all proposed bus stops along the route and holds a Road Passenger transport Operations Licence.

While there is a strong passenger demand for a service between Dalkey and Dublin Airport, my Department would only be prepared to make an offer of a licence to Patton Flyer if that company demonstrates that it would be prepared to operate in conformity with the law.

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!

Why the 141 is needed

The Department of Transport have done the travelling public a great disservice by delaying the licencing of the the 141 route.

Somebody at the Department of Transport’s licencing division should look at the photo above (click for fullsize version) or ideally spend a morning or two travelling on the Swords Road QBC at rush hour.

The picture is taken just after 9, and shows a large crowd waiting at the inbound stop close to the Airside junction, two 41s have just passed with standing loads.

Close to 20 people were waiting at this one stop by the time the next 41 arrived 15 minutes later and squeezed them on as standees. The position at other stops along the road is often similar.

This is exactly the demand that the Dublin Bus 141 route was designed to fulfill, providing a 10 minute even-headway service along the whole of the Swords Road QBC down through Drumcondra, and across the city to Rathmines.

The Department, despite approving the finance for Dublin Bus to buy the lowfloor accessible buses to run the service, has not, after almost two years, granted the licence for them to actually run the service, for fear of offending the private operator Swords Express, who run in common along a short stretch of the route.

Swords Express do not run along the entire Swords QBC, and do not provide lowfloor accessible vehicles, but instead provide a distinctly different and faster service via the motorway and the Port Tunnel.

Why can not two services so different from each other be allowed to operate?

Does the Department of Transport think that bus users are children, incapable of distinguishing between two different routes, and making a conscious choice as to which they want to use?

As can be seen in this photo, after a 41 had been and gone, some passengers chose to remain for the next Swords Express service (nice bus stop branding, but very little on the bus itself to tell you who it is or where its going).

The travelling public are perfectly capable of making this kind of decision, and there is no reason why we could not have alternative services along all the main corridors, with normal stopping bus services, and higher-priced express services offering speed or extra comfort.

There is nothing more pointless in transport terms than a QBC with too few buses, and an unserved demand. This just encourages motorists back into their cars.

WAKE UP Department of Transport!

More routes go officially lowfloor

Dublin Bus announce more lowfloor accessible routes

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Dublin Bus has announced today (Friday 28th March 2008) the operation of the following routes as fully lowfloor accessible from next Monday:

8, 27b, 43, 50, 53, 54a, 56a, 83, 102, 111, 130 and 220

Most of these have in practice been lowfloor for a long time anyway, but a few may pose problems, as they have up to now seen fairly frequent all-day operation by older non-accessible Olympians (as in photo above).

The 50 and 56A at Ringsend have been mainly Olympian operated, and the garage has got no additional lowfloors, so they will have to take some off mixed routes such as the 77, and be more discplined in their vehicle to route allocation.

Likewise at Clontarf, where the 130 is only 50% lowfloor allocated at the moment.

It will be interesting to see how this one pans out over the next week, and any bus to route allocation changes as a result.

Finglas Forays over the years

With Finglas bus services in the news, the need to get some up to date shots prompted me to look back through my collection to remember previous visits.Below are a selection of pictures and commentary from last Sunday, as well as my forays to Finglas 5, 8 and 26 years ago.

2008

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Whatever happens in the Irish bus world usually makes it into Coach & Bus Week (CBW) magazine the following Wednesday, and more often than not I have to get a photo to accompany the copy.

Given recent events in Finglas, including car hijackings on Patricks Day and occasional stoning of buses (the subject of the article) I was a little nervours about this assignment, especially given the circumstances of my last attempt to photograph in the location 5 years ago (see further below). So I took the car instead of the bus, and confined myself to failry mainstream locations, not too far off the beaten track.

Stopping first at Glasnevin Cemetary, after a few middling shots of buses heading to Finglas which were not displaying the destination, I got the picture above which would eventually accompany the article – ironically the only bus with “Finglas” mentioned on the display was actually heading inwards!

The bus is Volvo Olympian / Alexander RV550, new to Donnybrook Garage in 1999, and swapped over to Harristown in December 2005 as part of a cascade when the first triaxles arrived. It is on the 40A, and is picking up outside the main cemetary gates.

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I wanted to get more shots closer to the Finglas area, and this one of RV537 was my first attempt. I was surprised to see it still on the 40s, as I expected it to have transferred to Ringsend by the weekend (part of another cascade – new triaxles into Phibsboro releasing older lowfloor buses to Harristown, pushing 9 year old RVs to Ringsend to replace 12 year old RAs).

Even in the short time that I stood on Tolka Valley Road to get this shot, I was subject to taunting from local youths and passing motorists, so I decided to quit while I was ahead and leave the area.

2003

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 The source of my unease was an event five years earlier, when I had decided to take the newly extended/merged 83 to Finglas in the middle of the day on a Saturday, to get some shots around Finglas Village.

I had just stepped off the bus in the picture above, and photographed it to start my visit, when a group of local teenagers took exception to me, and started shouting insults and approaching in a threatening group. Within a minute of this picture I was having bottles and can thrown at me, in broad daylight close to the centre of the village.

This was something I had never encountered when photographing in any other area of Dublin.

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Discretion being the better part of valour, I legged it the short distance to the main road, where AV141 was just approaching as an inbound 40, and grabbed a quick shot before boarding and heading back into town.

2000

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In July 2000, when the above photo was taken, the Finglas QBC had just been launched (or relaunched).

The 40 was mainly P operated at the time, as these buses – Plaxton Verde bodied DAF SB220s – had been replaced on the 39 by higher capacity double-deckers.

This shot of P26 was taken on a quiet morning near Glasnevin – no trouble that day.

I liked the Ps, and was sad that they were withdrawn before their time, as single-decks went out of fashion in Dublin. They are a graceful looking bus, and can still be found at work as schoolbuses with Bus Eireann, mainly in the west.

1982

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My favourite Finglas photo, even if it is badly clipped at one side. The time is late summer 1982, and Leyland Atlantean PDR1 D1 is in its last weeks of service, one of just a handful of single-door examples hanging on in service at the time.

D1 is a much photographed vehicle, and there are endless publicity shots of it gleaming new in 1966, but this is how it looked at the other end of its life, battered and torn after 16 years of service.One headlight missing, a hole in the roof dome, badly patched metal around the lower destination display, and mismatching window surrounds – one rubber in the style of the D400s, and one original. Some of the early Ds did get the rubber window aurrounds after serious accidents, but usually both were done, and D1 looked very odd with half a repair job.

The Transport Museum did think about obtaining D1 on withdrawal, but in the end went for the much more solid D44 instead.

I do recall that I travelled back into town on D1 that day, and that this was the very last time I saw it on the road – it was confirmed withdrawn just a few weeks later.

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.

Is it OK to compete or not?

 41x Tunnel ban to stay.

Interesting piece in the Fingal Independent this week about the Department of Transport’s decision to refuse the application by Dublin Bus to run the 41X through the Port Tunnel.

Apparently it is refused because “it would give rise to competition to an existing licenced service” – i.e. Swords Express.

This is all very well and fine, but if the rationale for the refusal is so simple, why has it taken the DoT a whole year to come up with this response?

Competition with existing services seems to have been allowed in the past – otherwise many of the private operators in Dublin or elsewhere would not have been granted their licences. Indeed, recently a licence was granted to an independent operator to service the Waterford to Tramore corridor.

I am not arguing either for or against such competition here – simply that the Department should make clear its position, and most importantly for the sake of the poor travelling public – deal with such applications speedily.