Quick Pic: Olympian Twilight

Dublin’s once vast fleet of Volvo Olympians is dwindling rapidly, and the 64 or so still in service represent just 10% of the original Olympian numbers. All are due to be withdrawn this year, in order to reach a promised target of having a fully lowfloor accessible fleet by the end of 2012.

Those remaining are split between Harristown, Summerhill, Donnybrook and Ringsend depots, and can most often be seen on routes such as the 17, 44, some peak-hour 16s and 41s, and as seen here, all-day service on the 15A and 15B routes.

RV603 is seen on a winters evening approaching The Ferryman public house on the south quays.

ONE IN TWELVE – First New Buses

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 pictures for full-size versions.

RV328 on its first day in service in 1997

RV328 on its first day in service in 1997

RV329 minutes after delivery to Donnybrook Garage

RV329 minutes after delivery to Donnybrook Garage

When this site was started in November 1996, the very last of the RAs were just entering service.

The first new batch of buses that I got to report online were the 1997 RVs, starting with the delivery of RV326-330 to Donnybrook.

I was living in London at the time, but a visit to Dublin to update pictures happened to coincide with the arrival of the Donnybrook RVs.

Now the site is 12 years old, and those first new buses it covered are gone from the fleet.

ONE IN TWELVE – Instant Mods

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 for the full-size version.

Brand new RVs at Donnybrook in 1999

Brand new RVs at Donnybrook in 1999

The delivery of the final order for 195 RVs in 1999 included the first “euro” additional buses, and a lot of the later 500s were stored for periods of time before entering service. At the same time, a change in specification came into effect – following successful trials of a DMD display on RV460 earlier in the year, it was decided that all future buses would be so equipped.

No specific instruction was given to Alexander about how the destination window should look, so they produced these vehicles with a smaller destination glass, correctly sized for the DMD display, as used for many UK operators who specified DMDs.

However, on delivery, it was felt by Dublin Bus that these smaller destination boxes looked “ugly” and an immediate instructions were issued to Alexander to revert to the original sized window, with the DMD centred within it. After a very short period, those vehicles already delivered with the small destination glass were dispatched to Louth Commercials for modifications to make them look like the others.

The top photo shows some of the RV580s stored new in Donnybrook.

RV565 was one of a number of buses which ran in service with the smaller window for a short period in 1999.

RV565 was one of a number of buses which ran in service with the smaller window for a short period in 1999.

RV585 when new.

RV585 when new.

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 – 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.

Belfield morning shots

Some shots taken at the main bus station at UCD Belfield in the morning peak, Friday 17th October 2008.

All photos can be seen fullsize by clicking on them

Bus Eireann Scania/Irizar SC263

Bus Eireann Scania/Irizar SC263

AV25 has arrived in as a 70B

AV25 has arrived in as a 70B

Route 17 is still Olympian operated. RV443 is seen heading for Blackrock

Route 17 is still Olympian operated. RV443 is seen heading for Blackrock

AV43 has arrived into Belfield as a euro-duty 25X

AV43 has arrived into Belfield as a euro-duty 25X

 . . . and departs for town as a 46A

. . . and departs for town as a 46A

AV303 on duty 10/10 with another 10 behind it. Note the contrasting James Bond ads.

AV303 on duty 10/10 with another 10 behind it. Note the contrasting James Bond ads.

Belarmine Buses

Belarmine, close to Stepaside has finally got a decent all-day bus service with the arrival of the Dublin Bus 47 route, linking in with the frequent Stillorgan QBC.

AV328 seen at the terminus deep within the Belarmine estate. The service is operated as a fully lowfloor route with Volvo B7TL ALX400s.

AV328 seen at the terminus deep within the Belarmine estate. The service is operated as a fully lowfloor route with Volvo B7TL ALX400s.

RV585 arriving on the evening direct service from Dublin city - route 117.

RV585 arriving on the evening direct service from Dublin city - route 117.

Stops in Belarmine have been correctly dressed with the new timetables, and planning permission for shelters is being sought.

Stops in Belarmine have been correctly dressed with the new timetables, and planning permission for shelters is being sought.

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.

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.

Not quite the shot at Ticknock

Sometimes despite a lot of preparation, the photo you plan eludes you.

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Dublin Bus Volvo Olympian RV414 at Ticknock (click on any photo for fullsize version)

The bus is climbing Simon’s Ridge, having just left the 114 terminus in the development below, and is headed for the coastal village of Blackrock, where it meets with the DART rail service. Like the 102 on the northside, this is an official “DART feeder route” so through bus/rail tickets can be bought from the driver.

Just a few years ago, the only service that passed anywhere close to this spot was the infrequent single-deck 44B on its way to the mountain communities of Barnacullia and Glencullen. Now, as the city rapidly spreads up into the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, more regular bus services have followed.

This spot affords a fine view across the city below, and of Dublin Bay, and I’d wanted for a while to get a shot of a bus here with the city as backdrop.

It didn’t quite work out as I planned though, for reasons discussed below, and this view is to fuzzy and not exactly the one I wanted, though it is passable I suppose.

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When I positioned mself by the roadside to get the picture, I noticed that from my position, the 114 terminus was visible in the development down below. I would therefore easily be able to see when the bus was on its way up, and I grabbed a shot of it from afar with the city behind, as a csort of “bus in landscape” picture. Behind the apartments is the M50, though invisible here, and further back, and to the right of the picture, you can see a long way along Ballinteer Road, down as far as the junction of Ballinteer Avenue. In fact, at times I could see the buses turning from one to the other, so in theory it would be possible to have both a 14 and a 114 in the same shot, despite the fact that the two routes never meet!

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Here the bus is just pulling away from the terminus to come up to me, and I’ve included this shot because the red lorry above it nicely illustrates the position of the M50 motorway.

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Sometimes it just happens that no matter how long you wait, or how much you plan, something will ruin your shot. There had been no traffic for 10 minutes, but just as the bus hove into view, I could hear a car coming up behind me, and I knew that unless I went early, it would block the picture at exactly the wrong moment.

I had wanted the bus to be further towards me, just a little past the stop, so I would get both the city and the bay in the background. But I had to shoot early, and hope I could rescue the picture by cropping it in, which is what I did in the end, to produce the top shot of this page. Bit of a compromise though, as when you are cropping in to a more distant object, it is not as clear, and it also wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be.

Never mind, I shall come again one day and get a better picture, and if I’m lucky enough with sunlight I can use a faster exposure and have a slightly sharper image too.

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.