Network Direct Lucan Road:
Conyngham Road's newly acquired ex-Donnybrook Alexander Dennis ALX400 bodied Volvo B7LDD, AX606, is seen on Esker Road operating an inbound service of Route 25A on the first day of the new Network Direct services 21st November 2010.
So finally Phase 1 of the planned Network Direct changes have been fully implemented, as the final ammendments affecting the Lucan, Maynooth and Celbridge corridors were given new services from Sunday 21st November 2010. DublinbusStuff went out to sample the services on the first day.
The first major change concerns the new high frequency 25A/B service, with services of every 5mins combined during the peak. Sunday services also see an increase at every 15mins combined, however Monday-Saturday daytime services are somewhat dissappointing at only every 15mins combined. The 25A operates exactly the same route around the Lucan area, however it is now extended to a new city terminus at Merrion Square. It operates express from Palmerstown to Con Colbert Road along the Chapelizod By-Pass, cutting the journey time into the city from Lucan. The 25B is a new service which covers the previous 151 routing from Adamstown to Griffeen Avenue, then operates as per Route 25A to Merrion Square. The 25/A/B are operated from Conyngham Road, the routings returning to their 'rightful' former garage after a number of years in Phibsborough.
From travelling on the new services it is quite apparent how the journey time appears to be much quicker. I'd estimate only about 5mins is actually saved by avoiding Chapelizod, but one can't help feeling that they are on an express service as it negotiated its way to and from the city. An excellent ammendment to this service.
Conyngham Road's AX602 the first of the 4 bus batch originally operated from the garage, is seen on Route 25A at its SuperQuinn terminus on the 21st November 2010. This batch has been extended by the arrival of further AXs in numerical sequence from Donnybrook, enabled by the transfer of futher VTs from Phibsborough to Donnybrook.
One concern with the new routings would be the reduction in service along the Griffeen Road, which now sees basically half the day time service that it originally had. The other concern would be to do with the city centre routing. Dublin Bus has obviously pin-pointed Stephen's Green as a principle destination for passengers. This the 25s see a very circuitous routing around the city centre. From Bachelors Walk the routing is:
O'Connell Bridge, D'olier Street, College Street (stop at former 50/56A/77/151 stop), Grafton Street, Nassau Street (stop at 46A stop), Kildare Street (stop at former 172 terminus), St. Stephen's Green, Merrion Row (stop), Merrion Street Upper, Merrion Square South (terminus).
However this routing seems less bizarre when compared with the outbound routing, which is:
Merrion Square South (terminus), then right onto Fitzwilliam Street, Fitzwilliam Square East, Fitzwilliam Place, Leeson Street (2 stops), St. Stephen's Green East, St. Stephen's Green North, Dawson Street (stop), Nassau Street, Suffolk Street (stop), College Green, Westmoreland Street, Aston's Quay (stop).
One might notice two very large distances between stops. The first between Merrion Square South and Leeson Street, the other between Leeson Street and the Nassau Street end of Dawson Street. It seems almost pointless to operate these services around this loop for at most two stops on Leeson Street where passengers would otherwise not be served. To make matters worse Leeson Street is not served on the outbound, so the diversion seems pointless.
Conyngham Road's unique Alexander Enviro 500 bodied Volvo B9TL, EV54, with its incorrect front Dublin Bus logo, is seen operating a Route 25 departure to Dodsboro on Aston's Quay on the 21st November 2010.
The only conceiveable reason would be to cover for the xpresso's which are withdrawn from the 25A area in Lucan. However, the idea to operate all services around this loop to cover for a few withdrawn express services seems a bit fruitless, especially when express services could easily have been provided.
The other issue with the city routings is that Palmerstown and Liffey Valley bound passengers no longer have a common city stop between Merrion Square South and Wellington Quay, whereas there was previously Westmoreland Street and Pearse Street. No doubt the 66s and 67s will be moved onto Aston Quay as soon as space is made available from further Network Review implementations, but for the moment its less than perfect.
Another Ex-Donnybrook AX, AX610, is seen waiting its departure time at the Adamstown terminus of new Route 25B on the first day of the new route's operation, the 21st November 2010.
Adamstown also sees its service cut, from the more frequent 151 to the 25Bs 30min daytime frequency. However, the route is much more direct into the city, avoiding the Grange Castle, Clondalkin and Crumlin Road areas. Therefore it would be presumed that passengers will benefit more from this service. As can be seen from the photo of AX610 at the terminus alongside the Adamstown Rail Station, much of area was never completed, no doubt it will be left as a reminder of the failed Celtic Tiger era of our state.
Another Network Review poster can be seen here on Castlegate Way in Adamstown as AX607 begins to pull away from the stop on new Route 25B on the 21st November 2010.
AX607 is seen operating on Route 25B on Esker Road heading towards Adamstown on the 21st November 2010. This section of Esker Road is the small section served by both Routes 25A and 25B after they diverge at Griffeen Avenue.
With the 25B covering Adamstown and Griffeen Avenue, the 151 has been cut back to operate only to and from Foxborough. It operates from the Docklands all the way to the outer ring road. It would then turn left onto Griffeen Avenue, continuing on to Adamstown. At the junction it used to turn left at, it now turns right onto the Balgaddy Road, continuing on to the roundabout at the junction of Foxborough Road. A set down stop and a pick up stop are provided after it turns about at the roundabout. EV63 is seen below at the new Foxborough Terminus.
The city centre routing has been changed, in that on services to Foxborough Hawkins Street is used instead of College Street, thus joining the 51B/C/68/69 services that have moved here during the Blanchardstown changes. This marks a move away from the original 151. This service chared its city stops with the Crumlin Road routes as it was seen as extra capacty on that corridor. If suffered from low patronage no doubt because of this, hopefully the new change will generate some extra business for the service.
Conyngham Road's EV63 is seen operating a new shortened version of Route 151 to Foxborough only at the new terminus on the 21st November 2010.
The 25B from Adamstown operates along Griffeen Avenue. Griffeen Avenue and its estates of Rosberry, Oldbridge and Johnsbridge have seen there service improve drastically over the years. The first service was a solitary 25X journey, then it was given the high frequency 151 route. Now its served by the 25B, and though it constitutes a reduction in daytime frequency, it is more direct and serves Liffey Valley on route.
EV58 is seen on the 25B only section of Griffeen Avenue operating Route 25B on the 21st November 2010.
AX608 is seen operating Route 25A to Merrion Square on the small section of Griffeen Avenue served by both routes on the 21st November 2010.
Changes have also occured in the Leixlip, Celbridge and Maynooth districts. Of real note is the excellent interlacing of services to Leixlip, with an exactly 15min daytime service combined from the 66, 66A and 66B. Sunday service is somewhat dissapointing at every 60mins, but otherwise Leixlip gets a much needed improvement in service. Also Route 67 is much increased to a 30min frequency, amalgamated with the 67A operating to Maynooth via Celbridge with the loss of the Salesian College terminus.
The city routing for these services is a lot more sensible. They depart from Merrion Square South (terminus), Merrion Square East, Merrion Square North (stop), Clare Street (stop), Lincoln Place, Westland Row (stop), Pearse Street (stop at Shaw St and at old terminus), College Green, Westmoreland Street (stop), Aston Quay, Wellington Quay (stop).
Inbound its also much more direct to Merrion Square. From Bachelor's Walk: D'olier Street, College Street (Stop), College Green, Grafton Street, Nassau Street (stop), Merrion Square West (stop), Merrion Square South (terminus).
VG3 leads a long line of buses at the new Merrion Square south terminus of the Leixlip, Maynooth, Celbridge, Palmerstown and Lucan services on the 22nd November 2010.
Running time has most definately been an issue with the last two rounds of changes of Network Review. However Sunday observations were of a very well managed and scheduled service. Its too early to say how the service will operate during weekdays, especially during the peaks and that routing via Fitzwilliam Place. The 140s and 92s were regularly delayed at this location, sometimes needing a few light repetitions before managing to get onto Leeson Street.
Also of note was the provision of timetables. Timetable panels were placed at many locations throughout the day, the city centre been applied early in the morning. Notices were also placed in Lucan advising of the 25Bs replacement of the 151. Also of note was that the new destinations were available. These have been things that had been lacking in previous rounds, so well done to Dublin Bus for realising the faults with its precious implementations. Hopefully now, running time can be sorted on all routes, such that a decent, if albeit less frequenct service can be provided.
Phibsborough's Alexander Dennis ALX400 bodied Volvo B7LDD, AX588, is seen at the Merrion Square terminus of Route 26 on the 22nd November 2010.
The routing of Route 47 was of real note when the Stillorgan Road Network Review came about. Within a week some of the roundabout routing around Mount Merrion was dropped. One can't help thinking the same about Route 26. From Merrion Square, it follows the 66s to Victoria Quay, serving St. John's Road and South Circular Road before joining the other routes at the Conyngham Road. No doubt there is a reason for this diversion, but one questions the lenght of the walk along this section if buses were withdrawn altogether. At the southern end there is the 79 and new routes 25A/B, while on the northern end there is the 66s/67. So the need to provide a service along this section is confusing.
The other noteworthy thing is that the buses then serve Ballyfermot on the way to Palmerstown Cemetary. The Palmerstown Cemetary area was principally what route 26 provided, but the journey time has been significantly increased above what it was formerly.
AX433 is seen operating a Route 66 service to Kilcock, the last day of Dublin Bus operation to this Kildare town on the 20th November 2010.
The limited Dublin Bus Kilcock service finally bowed out on Saturday the 20th November 2010. AX433 is seen above on the 13:50 service. The most westerly point of the former network is now gone. For a picture of AX601 at the Kilcock terminus, see here.
Broadstone's VG9 is seen operating the former 1725 25X service from Merrion Square to Ballyowen Road on the 15th November 2010.
Of real note is the withdrawal of the much liked Xpresso services from much of the Lucan area. VG9 is shown above operating the 25X the wrong way, operating first to Lucan Superquinn before continuing on via Griffeen Road and Foxborough to the Ballyowen Road. These services were quick, well patronised and a more exclusive service used in the main by 9-5 office workers. These services will be sadly missed, as general scheduled service full of short hoppers and school children share the 25As and Bs with the customer that the exclusive Xpressos had formerly attracted. One can't help feel that some of these customers may be lost by this very fact.
The reason for dropping the Xpressos is not that clear. Operating all Xpressos to Belfield was always somewhat wasteful, most passengers disembarking before the canal. However space was required to terminate these services, so Belfield was the chosen location. Xpressos by there very means of operating out of the scheduled area of the more frequent day time service are more difficult to schedule, they require ample running time to ensure a timely operation, and start or finish from a location not associated with the principal service that they provide an express of.
However express services could still be provided along the corridor. I believe a 25X service to and from the Burlington Hotel would suffice, these services being quickly able to return to the Merrion Square terminus of the main 25A/B route. Thus they could be contained within the main rota, however they could still offer the type of service enjoyed from the Xpressos. A bus every 15mins would be enough, the other two services operating as normal stage carriage services. The 25A/B could also then be straightened out in the city centre without the need for the very circuitous routing.
Saving the best till last, Conygham Road's Wedding EV64 is seen operating Route 25A on its first day back in service with this garage on the 21st November 2010 on the second stop on Adamstown Road on its inbound routing.