Photo of the Week - Week 34:
Harristown's Wright Eclipse Fusion bodied Volvo B7LA, AW16, is seen on the Northumberland Road on Route 4A to Harristown Garage on the 26th August 2010.
Well our suspicions were finally answered this week when Dublin Bus issued a tender notice for the purchase of the fleet of 20 AWs, the 20 2000 registered WVs and 4 of the 1999 registered RVs. Dublinbusstuff follows many of the leading websites in paying tribute to these vehicles in this week's image(s) of the week.
The late 1990s saw a major boom period in the history of the Irish State leading to a large increase in Dublin's road congestion. With capital projects such as the LUAS years away from completion and any underground system years away from being designed, it was left to the city's bus system to help alleviate these problems. Thus the government of the day went about a process of increasing the bus fleet and providing more Quality Bus Corridors into and out of the city.
Like any bus service Dublin's suffered from limited capacity during the peak hours coupled with too much capacity during the offpeak hours. With a normal working day for most people being something like 9-5 (a 7 hour working day with an 8 eight hour spread); if the same driver was to bring someone into work for 9am, requiring a bus to be pulled out of the garage for 7am, and then bringing someone home at 5pm, requiring the bus to be pulled in at 7pm in the garage, then the driver would have had a 12hour day. Shifts with such long spreadovers are known as Bogey duties, and though these duties were part of the makeup of operations at the time, they were unpopular and not widespread. Therefore, in general, a driver doing the morning peak would then continue to do laps on whatever route until his working day was completed sometime in the afternoon. Then someone else would take up the bus to operate the evening peak. Thus providing additional capacity in the peak periods meant increasing the capacity on those routes for the full day, when this extra capacity would not be required.
In late 1998 it was announced that a significant order of buses would be made, in total 215 buses (195 RVs and 20 WVs), which would provide additional capacity to the fleet. The extra capacity was used to create more bogey duties throughout the system using the new buses. This was in the form of the Xpresso services and other peak hour workings. Much of the investment for these new buses came from European Union funding. Hence, internally these bogeys became known as "Euro" duties, a designation that would eventually see yellow "Euro" stickers applied to certain buses operating these services.
Another significant order was placed in 2000, a total of 225 buses and again a significant part of this order was expansionary. Of these 185 were AVs, 20 WVs and 20 Wright Articulated Volvo B7LAs, the AW class. Dublin Bus' first experience of this new articulated low-floor vehicle came in February 1999 when First Group's Wright Fusion Volvo B10LA articulated bus S11 FML was used on a variety of routes such as the 10, 39 and 90. The trial of this bus left a favourable impression, especially in the higher echelons of government, to such an extent that an order for 20 was placed. At this point, in March and April 2000, a silver demonstrator was given to the company which worked on Route 46A from Donnybrook garage.
The artics would eventually be delivered to the then new Broadstone depot, fitted out with longer maintenance bays to accommodate the AWs, and used on new "Euro" services in order to provide additional capacity on those corridors. They entered service on routes 127, 129 and 90 on the 12th March 2001. However they failed to live up to their potential. In fact of the routes upon which they were launched, Routes 127/129/90A/65C/39B, only one remains, that being the 39B. It too will soon be subsumed into a new 39A with the implementation of the Blanchardstown review. Then in the summer of 2002, they were transferred to the 10 service, which they operated for two years, until moving to Harristown Depot upon its opening, being confined to Euro duties once more. With the launch of Route 4 (Ballymun - Nutley Lane (later Harristown - Blackrock Village)) in March 2006 and Route 4A (Harristown - Stradbrook Road) in November 2007, they were once again used on full daytime services instead of being confined to peak periods.
WV20-40 also purchased in the year 2000 were also delivered to the then new Broadstone depot beginning operation in late November. At the same time Route 123 transferred from Conyngham Road garage. The 123 was the third CityImp route, launched in February 1994, replacing the fading Route 24 service. Like all CityImp routes it was a victim of its own success, the high frequency service drawing more people than could fit in the Mercedes minibuses. Therefore in 2000 an order of 20 WVs was placed in order to increase the capacity of the service. Apart from WV21, which was transferred to Donnybrook in November 2004 to operate Route 92, the rest of the batch (WV22-40) transferred to Summerhill with Route 123. They have given nearly 10 years of tireless effort on this very busy route, a testimony to their efforts being that they too would develop capacity issues on this route. The 123 awaits its transferred EV class double-deckers to take over the service.
Summerhill's Wright Crusader 2 bodied Volvo B6BLE, WV38, is seen on Dame Street operating a 123 service to Marino on the 5th April 2010.