Network Direct - Howth Road Changes:
Clontarf's EV75 is seen on its return to the city fon the narrowest sections of Shielmartin Road on brand new route 31A on the 18th November 2012. EV75 had the distinction of operating the first outbound 31A departure, with EV14 being the first ever departure. The passengers waving campaigned for the introduction of the route.
The Howth Road has remained unchanged for sometime, with few changes in the past few decades. Netowrk Direct affected it recently with the withdrawal of the 42A, however this only served the Howth Road for a short section. The last change, to the core routes, came in a slight rearrangement of the Howth services in mid-2000s, the 31B being shortened to the Summit, the 31 joining it there, with the 31A withdrawn replaced by a few replacement 31B services which went via Shielmartin Road. Prior to this, the last change the author remembers was the withdrawal of the "Hole in the Wall" 29As and the 32B extension to Portmarnock.
Clontarf's brand new GT64 is seen on the Coast Road in Baldoyle Village on the first day of ROute 29A's extension there, on the 18th November 2012.
The first notable change comes in the form of Route 29A's extension to Baldoyle Village. This change has been talked about for over 15 years in this author's memory, since the completion of the new, "straghter" road between Donaghmede and Baldoyle. It is a very sensible move, the 32B's meander being quite tiresome for the Portmarnock passenger. The 29A follows its full routing to its former terminus at the roundabout in Donaghmede. It turns right at this roundabout, past the Racecourse Pub in Baldoyle, then Willie Nolan Road. It turns left onto the Coast Road, turning about at the roundabout entrance to The Coast estate before continuing back into Baldoyle Village to terminate outside the church. It is a pity that the 29A could not have been extended into The Coast Estate itself.
Clontarf's GT61 is seen at the Lower Abbey Street terminus of Route 29A on the final day of Newgrove bound services on the 17th November 2012.
The 31s have also been rearranged. The first image above shows EV75 on the first day of new Route 31A. The original 31A to Strand Road (Shielmartin Road) was discontinued on Saturday 12th March 2005, the final departure being oddly allocated DT2 (see irishbuses great feature). The 31A had originally been a 31 to Sutton Cross, before turning right, follwing the Strand Road onto St. Fintan's Road to terminate on Shielmartin Road. The new 31A serves the entire 31 route to Howth Summit, thus serving Howth Harbour and Village, before serving the Thormanby Road and Carrickbrack Road, Strand Road, St. Fintan's Road to once again terminate on Shielmartin Road. In the same fashion as Route 1's "Shanard" terminus, Dublin Bus have once again created a new Dublin area by dropping the word road from the destination. Route 1 should be fixed soon, so how long will 31A's unique destination last?
Clontarf's EV85 is seen on the nicely backdropped Coast Road between Malahide and Portmarnock on the last day of Route 32A, the 17th November 2012.
The 31B is now much more infrequent, with only a few peak hour services in both directions, the majority via Strand Road providing a quicker service to/from the city than the alternative 31A. Another notable change was the renumbering of the 32A, City Centre - Malahide, to Route 32. This renumbering seems at odds to Route 29A which kept its suffix, though in the original Network Direct plan it was listed as Route 29. Overall, the 32A though less frequent than the former 32 services does provide a logical consistent service to the Malahide/Portmarnock area with a clockface hourly timetable.
Clontarf's EV83 is seen at the Portmarnock terminus of Route 32, prior to its entension to Malahide, photographed on the 29th January 2011.
EV80 is seen at the Malahide terminus of Route 32 on the first day of this route's extension there, the 18th November 2012.
After roughly 50years of serving the Marian Park / Abbey Park estates, Route 32B (the 'B' suffix not used initially) finally ceased operation also on the 17th November 2012. The Abbey Park detour was always a nice treat for the bus enthusiast, but for Portmarnock bound passengers must have been a nuisance. The blue headed bus stop, which lasted right up to the end, is surely now no more, as Abbey Park leaves the network as many of these small road housing estates have under Network Direct. However, there is no arguing that the 29A provides a mose sensible option.
Clontarf's EV82 is seen at Abbey Park on Route 32B on the last day of the Abbey Park service, the 17th November 2012.
The final change of note comes with Route 42. With Route 32 now serving Malahide consistently, the 42 Coast Road services have been dropped. All Route 42 services now run via The Hill and Seamount to the Portmarnock terminus. They also always serve Seabury en route to Malahide. This is a fair detour for the passengers from Portmarnock or Malahide and is probably the least sensible part of the ammendment. Though it provides a consistent frequency in Malahide Village, something lacking from the former arrangement, it now takes a good 5-10mins longer than the more direct 42 services used to take. An hourly service to Seabury would probably be sufficient, and with running time looking likely to be a major issue (I was caught out myself on Sunday by dropped departures), it could be a sensible move to run every second bus via Seabury instead of every bus. This way two of the 4 buses allocated could serve Seabury outbound, the other 2 serving it inbound only, which given the large delay this detour causes, would be a sensible solution.
EV17 is seen on the Coast Road in Malahide on the last day of Route 42 on the last day of the Coast Road services on the 17th November 2012.
Overall the ammendments seem a useful rearrangement of the services, so long as the timetables prove manageable. An excellent addition to this review has been the corridor timetabling, the 29A, 31 and 32 providing a consistent frequency along the Howth Road. Compared to previous versions of these timetables where buses departed together, this move should be commended. On the Malahide Road, the 42 and 27A (both half-hourly frequency) have been given an integrated 15min frequency. This again is an excellent addition, especially given the likelyhood of the two highest frequency routes on this corridor (the 15 and 27) running together, especially inbound. All in all, a sensible review given the cutbacks dictated by the current difficult economic climate.
The dusk settles on EV82 at the former Coast Road terminus of Route 42 on the 10th November 2012.