Halpenny stick with Volvo for coaching needs

Halpenny's new Volvo B12B (photo: Volvo Bus)

Halpenny's new Volvo B12B (photo: Volvo Bus)

(from the Volvo Press Release files)

Halpenny Travel of Dundalk has just taken delivery of another Volvo B12B Jonckheere to join its all-Volvo fleet.

The new vehicle will be used for touring around Ireland on behalf of a number of operators and Halpenny are confident it is ideal for the task in hand. “We love the new Jonckheere bodywork. Not only does it create a really strong first impression, the interior boasts high levels of passenger comfort – two essential factors in this business,” explained John Halpenny, General Manager of Halpenny Travel .

Specified with Volvo’s fuel efficient DH12E 12 litre engine – rated at 420hp and coupled to the
I-Shift gearbox – the 12.2m  51/53 seater vehicle features full climate control, toilet, CD/DVD player with two monitors and facilities for hot and cold drinks.

“We know from experience that our customers will love it, but the B12B Jonckheere is just as popular with the drivers,” continued John Halpenny. “It’s a pleasure to drive. But also, the back up we receive from Volvo through Dennisons at Newry and Irish Commercials at Naas is excellent – one of the major reasons we keep coming back to them.”

Volvo’s Regional Coach Sales Manager, Duncan Crosby commented, “We are delighted by Halpenny’s continued loyalty and satisfaction with our products and services. We’ll be working hard to ensure that both live up to their high expectations!”

Established back in 1920, Halpenny Travel is a third generation family-owned operator specialising in luxury private hire. Its customers range from local organisations and community groups to corporate clients and international travel operators.

Review: Bus Eireann’s new commuter coaches

LD208, one of Bus Eireann's new luxury double-deck commuter coaches, seen at Cavan Bus Station

LD208, one of Bus Eireann's new luxury double-deck commuter coaches, seen at Cavan Bus Station

Over the last few months Bus Eireann has been taking delivery of a fleet of 32 high specification double-deck commuter coaches, designed to provide extra capacity and comfort on medium-distance comuter runs to Dublin from counties Cavan and Meath. The buses, built by Berkhof on DAF chassis, are to three-axldesign to maximise capacity, and indeed seat more on the upper deck alone than the conventional single-deck coaches they are replacing.

But what are they like from the passenger point of view? Our editor took the 4 hour round trip to Cavan to experience the new coaches at work.

Visually, they are very stylish, and make an impression both in terms of design and sheer size. Bus Eireann have wisely decided to steer away from using them as mobile advertising hoardings as with traditional double-deckers, thus allowing the space between decks to be used to show off the company branding to maximum advantage.

The upper deck is bright and airy, with comfortable seating, and fully belted.  Overhead racks are provided throughout.

The upper deck is bright and airy, with comfortable seating, and fully belted. Overhead racks are provided throughout.

The front seats not only feature the best views, but you get cup-holders and the dash is designed for extra legroom

The front seats not only feature the best views, but you get cup-holders and the dash is designed for extra legroom

The seating is comfortable, even on a journey of more than 2 hours, and the belts are easy to use, and accomodate the largest of passengers without feeling cramped.

The front seat give you the real “King of the Road” experience, and unlike many double-deckers, do not suffer from limited legroom, as a special recess has been designed under the dash to give extra stretching room. The safety bar is well positioned below the eyeline, and is padded, and there are even cup-holder recesses in the dash. All the seats feature controls for recline angle, though unusually my front seat seemed to have some sort of built in vibrating bottom massager linked to the braking system – which made sudden stops a very interesting experience, though I am not sure that this is exactly what the manufacturer intended!

Being a double-decker, even the non-front seats gave a vasty enhanced view compared to the blurry hedgerows that is all that can be seen during a normal coach journey. Being able to see over the hedges and across the countryside is no small advantage, and makes a longer journey much more enjoyable. I know that Bus Eireann think in terms of capacity when buying these vehicles, but they should also consider the vastly enhanced journey experience that comes from greater vision for the passenger, and consider introducing these vehicles on a wider range of services.

Climate-wise, the coach was warm as toast, with cool air available via individual blowers if required. The noise level was very quiet, with the engine almost inaudible upstairs.

The vehicle also seemed very nippy, and had no difficulty keeping up with the other traffic on the N3, and will doubtless benefit from the abolition of the speed restriction on double-deck coaches that comes into effect from February 1st 2009.

All in all, a very positive experience, 10 out of 10 for style, 9 out of 10 for comfort, and the only thing missing is wifi.

More please!

More please!

Bernard Kavanagh takes two B12Bs

Photo by Volvo Bus


Irish operator, Bernard Kavanagh & Sons has just taken delivery of two Volvo B12Bs with Jonckheere bodywork. Both coaches will be used for touring Ireland and the UK on behalf of holiday operator, Brendan Tours.

Specified with Volvo’s DH12E engine – rated at 420hp – coupled to the I-Shift gearbox, both are configured with just 49 seats and provide every comfort for touring holidays. Passengers also have the benefit of full climate control, toilet, CD/DVD player and hot and cold drinks facilities.

They are not the first B12Bs to join the fleet. “We purchased a B12B Jonckheere a couple of years ago for touring work and have been really pleased with its performance,” explained Bernard Kavanagh.

“The fuel consumption is good, we like the long warranty you get with Volvo and we enjoy great customer service from them – all excellent reasons for going back to Volvo when new vehicles were needed for this contract.”

“We’re delighted to be doing business with Bernard Kavanagh again,” added Volvo’s Regional Sales Manager, James Hyde. “We’re delighted his last purchase proved such a good performer and are confident that the latest additions to the fleet will match up to the high standards we have set!”

Based in Urlingford, Co Kilkenny, Bernard Kavanagh & Sons was established in 1945. Now with a fleet of 65 luxury touring coaches, the company serves nine major tour operators and provide bus and coach chartering within Ireland, to the U.K. and the European mainland.

Butlers choose Volvo/Sunsundegui for first fullsize coach

From the Volvo Bus delivery files: Butlers Buses of Cork have just taken delivery of their first full sized coach – a Volvo B7R with Sunsundegui bodywork. The new coach marks an exciting departure for Butlers who, until now, have only run vehicles with a maximum capacity of 30.

“Our business is mainly private hire with a good mix of contract hire, school services and touring. We were increasingly receiving requests to accommodate larger groups”, explained Managing Director Ian Butler. “We wanted to be able to do that without splitting groups over two vehicles or contracting out, but at the same time we were conscious that investing in a full sized coach was a big step for us and we wanted to make sure we got it right.

“We approached Volvo because they have such a good name in the industry.  We’ve seen plenty of B7Rs in action and knew that operators were happy with them. We also really liked the look of the Sunsundegui body and felt it created the right impression. And when a colleague in the industry took me on a test drive of his own B7R Sunsundegui, I knew it was the coach for us. What’s more, the favourable exchange rate between the euro and sterling meant now was a great time to buy”

Specified with Volvo’s D7C 7.1 litre, 290hp common rail fuel injection engine, coupled to the ZF six speed gearbox, the 12m B7R has 53 seats plus courier seat, double glazing and full air-conditioning. It will be used for a range of work from airport, ferry and train transfers to scenic/golf tours and private hire.

“We’ve already had a great response from customers keen to take advantage of the larger capacity,” added Ian Butler, “and we have plenty of advance bookings for the new coach. I’m now keen to get it out on the road so it can start earning its keep!”

Family run Butlers was established 41 years ago by Ian’s father. Their modern fleet provides a range of services from local coach hire to touring throughout Ireland and into Europe.