The Nipper Service:
Due to the closure of DublinTransport.com, I will over the next few weeks be transferring some of the articles I wrote to this website. The first one is the Nipper article. No brilliant photos, as with some of the other historical articles. For pictures of MCW Metroriders (MB Class) operating the Nipper service in 1989 taken by Shane Conway see IrishBuses.com. Also included in that feature is a newspaper article from the period with a map of the Nipper route.
The Nipper service was introduced for the Christmas period of 1988. Its purpose was to try and alleviate traffic within the city centre and thus can be seen as some form of precursor to today’s ‘operation free-flow’. The route performed successfully during its period of operation. Dublin Bus responded by increasing its period of operation to include the post-Christmas sales. The route was re-introduced for the Christmases of 1989, 1990 and 1991.
The Nipper began operation on the 8th December 1988. Its introduction coincided with the arrival of some new MCW Metroriders, MB6-11 (88 D 31237/8/6/5/2/1). These buses were extended 29-seat versions of the Metroriders and thus differed from the shorter 21-seat MB1-5. Given that the new Northside LocaLink services were not to begin until the following January, Dublin Bus seized the opportunity of these surplus buses to introduce the Nipper service operating from Summerhill Garage.
The initial period of operation was to extend from the 8th December-24th December. However, due to its popularity the operation of the route was extended to cater for the post Christmas Sales and thus ran on until the 14th January 1989.
The Nipper service ran on the following dates (all inclusive) , ‘Nipper City Centre Bus Service to be Extended for the Sales’, Advertisement, Irish Times, 24th December 1988:
- 8th-24th December
- 28th-31st December
- 3rd-7th January
- 9th-14th January
Note here that after Christmas the Nipper service didn’t operate on Sundays after Christmas. This was a sign of the times really when shops only opened on Sundays for the few weeks leading up to Christmas.
It operated between the following times:
- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday: 10:30-18:00
- Thursday, Friday: 10:30-20:00 (pre-Christmas) 10:30-18:00 (post-Christmas)
- Sunday: 13:00-18:00
The service ran every 10mins during its operational hours. The map below shows the original routing:
O'Connell Street, O'Connell Bridge, D'olier Street, College Street, College Green, Dame Street, South Great George's Street, Exchequer Street, South William Street, Stephen's Street Lower, Mercer Street Lower, York Street, St. Stephen's Green West, St. Stephens' Green North, Dawson Street, Nassau Street, Suffolk Street, Church Lane, College Green, Westmoreland Street, O'Connell Bridge, O'Connell Street.
There was a good article about this in the Irish Times on the 12/12/1988 by Lorna Siggins titled 'Whizzing by Nipper through the drizzle'. In the article she mentions the following stops used:
- No. 13 Bus Stop on O'Connell Street (Outside Board Failte across road from DB headquarters)
- No. 19 Stop at Cleary's O'Connell Street
- No. 10 Stop (O'Connell Street, close to Eden Quay)
- No 19. Stop (D'Olier Street - outside Dublin Gas)
- No. 19 stop outside Telecom Eireann in Dame Street
- Outside Bewley's in South Great George's Street
- 25 metres east of Dame Court junction on Exchequer Street
- Outside Linear Fashions in South William Street
- Rear of St. Stephen's Green Shopping Centre Mercer Street
- St. Stephen's Green West (Bus shelter at Telecom Eireann)
- No. 15 stop outside Galleria (St. Stephen's Green North)
- Outside No. 41 Dawson Street (20 metres south of Anne Street junction)
- No. 10 stop in Suffolk Street
- Westmoreland Street
- O'Connell Street
The article also mentions the terrible parking congestion on South William Street that hindered bus movements. It was this fact that caused Dublin Bus to reroute the bus as of the 13th December Detour for City minibus Service, Article, Irish Times, 13/12/1988. The bus from then on continued up St. Great George's Street, Aungier Street and Cuffe Street before St. Stephen's Green West.
O'Connell Street, O'Connell Bridge, D'olier Street, College Street, College Green, Dame Street, South Great George's Street, Aungier Street, Richmond's Hill, Cuffe Street, St. Stephen's Green West, St. Stephens' Green North, Dawson Street, Nassau Street, Suffolk Street, Church Lane, College Green, Westmoreland Street, O'Connell Bridge, O'Connell Street.
The buses operating the Nipper didn’t display a route number but instead a ‘Nipper’ sign was placed in the destination display, while stickers noting ‘Nipper adorned its windows (see photos on IrishBuses.com).
As previously noted in the article, the new Metroriders were delivered in order to expand Localink services both in the Tallaght area (where they had first been introduced) and into Clondalkin (Route 210) and Finglas/Blanchardstown (Route 220). When the Nipper service was withdrawn on the 14th January, there was a major reshuffling of minibuses. MB1-5 which had been operating on Tallaght routes T01/2, were transferred to Phibsborough. Of the newly delivered extended Metroriders, by this stage the whole batch MB6-15 had arrived, MB6-7 went from Summerhill to Phibsborough to join MB1-5 for the operation of routes 210 and 220. MB8-11 went from Summerhill to Donnybrook, while MB12-15 also went to Donnybrook to operate the Tallaght routes T01/2 and the recently (14th December 1988) introduced Route T03.
The Nipper service was reintroduced on the 10th December 1989. This time it was operated by MB1-5 from Phibsborough Garage. These buses had become available due to the successful loadings of the then recently introduced (start of year) Route 220 which had been upgraded to full size KC single-deckers. It served the following stops:
- O'Connell Street (No. 10 Stop),
- O'Connell Street (No. 19 Clerys Stop),
- D'olier Street (No. 22 Stop),
- Dame Street (No. 19 Stop),
- Georges Street (No. 19 Stop),
- Aungier Street,
- Redmond's Hill (for those that don't know this road, it's the street between Aungier and Wexford Street),
- St. Stephen's Green West (No. 15 Stop - buses also set down here),
- St. Stephen's Green North (No. 10 Stop),
- Dawson Street (No. 10 Stop),
- Suffolk Street,
- Westmoreland Street (No. 10 Stop),
- O'Connell Street (British Home Stores),
- O'Connell Street (City Tours Stop).
- Monday, Tuesday, Saturday: 10:30 to 18:00,
- Thursday, Friday: 10:30 to 20:00
- Sunday: 13:00 to 17:50
all on a 10minute frequency.
No termination date is known for the year 1989, in fact the service may well have not been extended till after Christmas.
It was again introduced for the Christmas of 1990. This time the then new (well that year) Mercedes Wright Minibuses, MW1-3/5 were used on the service. The service was free, this initiative been supported by the Dublin City Centre Business Association.
The Nipper service was introduced for the final time for the Christmas of 1991. This is a presumption of mine taken from Buses Magazine March 1992 which I quote: “MCW Metroriders MB1, 3-5 also saw service in the run-up to Christmas, on a free shoppers service in the city centre”. Therefore it is open to correction, but sounds very similar to that of the Christmas 1990 service which was definitely the Nipper.
The Nipper route was termed a ‘flat-fare’ route as it was the same fare regardless of the distance travelled. This fare was 25p. It was the same for both Adults and Children, however a group of two-adults and 2-children could travel for 50p.
This flat fare is interesting due to the fact that children and adults were charged the same. It is less interesting when one notes that the shopper’s fare around this time was always kept at the minimum child fare, and the minimum child fare for 1988 was 25p. The shopper’s fare was a city-centre only fare, in fact it only existed between certain points which are noted in the shopper’s fare page. In the days of the Nipper however, the fare would have only been available between the hours of 10:00 and 16:00. On the Nipper service however, the fare applied all day.
This fare structure was in force on the Nipper during 1988 and 1989. During the years 1990 and 1991 it was free as noted above.