Network Direct - Stillorgan Road / North Wicklow Changes:
Donnybrook's Enviro-500-bodied Volvo B9TL, VT20, is seen awaiting the first departure of Route 46A from Phoenix Park to Dun Laoghaire at 0845. This was the same time as AV309 on the 10 behind.
Well it has been 22 years, 7 months and 20 days, but Donnybrook buses are now back serving the Phoenix Park. Today, the 19th September 2010 saw the flagship route of Dublin Bus extended over the north side of Route 10. The 10 itself is on borrowed time and is to be withdrawn in a few weeks so the photo above will be a timely reminder to a route that has served Dublin well over the past 105 years.
Donnybrook was of course home to the Phoenix Park service for many years. Upon electrification of the network in the late 1890s, the tram lines between Donnybrook to Phoenix Park were joined. This was Dublin's first cross city service and was later to be renumbered the 9 and operated via Merrion Square. The 10 would follow in 1905 as a variant of the 9 via St. Stephen's Green. The trams for this cross city service were based at Donnybrook shared with Cabra Depot.
The bus services that replaced the tram, also numbered the 9 and 10 on the same routings, were also based in Donnybrook for many years, that depot sharing the allocation with Conyngham Road. It was then moved to Phibsborough upon that depots opening in 1971, though at that stage route 9 was no more, it being withdrawn upon the 10's extension to Belfield the year before.
However Donnybrook still had a service to the Phoenix Park as the 14 service was extended there in 1955. Its variant 14A when introduced in the mid-60s would also join it at the Phoenix Park. This was not the first foray of the 14 northside as the tram had at one stage operated to Phibsborough (Finglas Road). This service would continue, albeit in a minimal form in its last days, until Saturday 30th January 1988.
The VTs were an interesting allocation today, this author not seeing any other type allocated. This may well because of the All Ireland Football Final, though the 46A no longer goes to Mountjoy Square, though was busy at points with match traffic. It may also be because Dublin Bus wanted to highlight their new improved service to Donnybrook. And, in this author's opinion, it has been improved. From a purely operational point of view the direct service was much quicker than normal. Network Direct working very well, the concept showing how good it can be in reality. That of course does not take away from the 4's minimal Sunday service which was meant as a replacement to the 46A in the Monkstown Farm area.
The VTs allocation also threw up a surprise in that none had had their scrolls updated for the change of routing. The TGXs could issue tickets with Phoenix Park but the buses themselves were unable to show it. Many of the buses today, about 1/2 of the 145 allocation and one of the buses on the 84 had similarly not been updated for the event and it was possibly the only issue with the running of the service today. All in all from viewing these services all week, there had been significant deployment of personnel giving out information on the buses. There was also numerous announcements by bus drivers both today and last week detailing some of the changes taking place. Today while being a bus enthusiast reading stop closure notices in the torrential rain about 5pm, an inspector came over to us to tell us the stop had been closed and advised where to get the bus from. All of this was very commendable, and a million miles away from the last 7 and 8 changes in the Dun Laoghaire area 9 years ago. The company clearly has come a long way since then.
Donnybrook's VT15 passes AV256 on Route 59 at Marine Road on the 19th September 2010. The bus shows Parnell Square, not its destination of the Phoenix Park, the only hitch on the day, but at least passengers were not left as Route 10 was still operating. In fact it seemed a lot of passengers were aware of the changes in any case, but from an enthusiast perspective it was a pity not getting a "Phoenix Park - 46A display".
The direct service has of course meant the reorganisation of the route avoiding Monkstown Farm. There has of course been some issue with this move but in reality it is a progressive move from the Company towards highly efficient transport provision. Dublin's services were born in the days of private companies operating services where ever they felt they could make money. And the real benefit of the bus over the tram was that it could give a door to door service. And in many cases it literally did, and new council estates like Monkstown Farm would have been given a service almost as soon as it was finished. The DUTC which would later be amalgamated into CIE in 1945, also operated services on this principal for 10 years before it gained a monopoly. However services after the monopoly didn't really change, the culture of transport provision had been set by the early years of competition and the idea of an all encompassing network of direct services was not considered.
It should be noted that at this time services were much quicker than they are now. Many areas of land were green field that are now fully developed. The 46A was given 43mins to get from the city to Dun Laoghaire on a non-dual carriage way road, serving Monkstown Farm. 50 years later and this journey time had gone up considerably, even with the excellent QBC provision on the Stillorgan Road. Reality was that the service was much busier then it had ever been when Monkstown Farm was the staple of custom.
And from observation today the removal of this diversion and the one at Stillorgan really do create the feeling a quick, direct, quality bus service without the feeling that you're just going around in circles. From observation at Stradbrook taking photos of the 4A, the 4A was getting significant numbers boarding at this point. Many people had already transferred onto the quicker service into the city. However the lack of 4s on a Sunday is a bit of a concern, especially given the two buses allocated today were going around displaying "Blackrock - 4". But the 63 was flying the flag for Monkstown Farm, providing the link to Dun Laoghaire.
Donnybrook's Alexander ALX400-bodied Volvo B7TL, AV347, awaiting its departure time on Crofton Road on the 19th September 2010.
The 84 no longer goes into the city terminating instead at UCD Belfield. The service will eventually link up with the Luas at Cherrywood and the displays have been updated to say via "Cherrywood Luas" however as of today the services were not operating via the station. That said the Luas has not started to operate so the diversion is not necessary at the moment.
Donnybrook's Alexander Dennis ALX400-bodied Volvo B7TL, AX614, is parked at the Belfied Campus terminus on the 19th September 2010 the first day of its operation there.
Just as one route leaves the city centre another one returns. The 47 from today returns to the city with a terminus at the 84N stop on Pearse Street. Its 11 years since the last 47 graced the city centre though its new form is much different to the Tibradden service, though that said it still ends up at the foot of the Dublin Mountains in the Belarmine estate. Belarmine has finally got a full daily service to the city centre, and the route also acts as a filler, being the link between Stillorgan Village and the City and also the route through Mount Merrion before finally beefing up the service between St. Vincent's Hospital and the City on the Merrion Road corridor, the busiest section of that corridor. So I feel once traffic on Nutley Lane doesn't become an issue that it has potential, if not as a full service from Belarmine to City then as two services City to Stillorgan and Stillorgan to Belarmine.
I have to admit that when the spider maps were originally launched I didn't believe that they were the way forward. However since the widespread changes for Network Direct I realise their great potential in providing vast amounts of information in a quick and easy way. The Dublin Bus Network Direct team have clearly put a lot of effort into these schematics. However sometimes the finer detail is not so obvious and maybe this is the case with the 47. The route is as follows: Pearse Street, around by Trinity College to Nassau Street, (returning via Westland Row) Clare Street, Mount Street, Merrion Road, Nutley Lane, Stillorgan Road, Foster's Avenue, North Avenue, then a left onto Trees Road, right onto Stillorgan Road then another quick right into Stillorgan Village, and then as per 47's previous routing to Belarmine.
Donnybrook's Alexander Dennis ALX400-bodied Volvo B7TL, AX544, sitting at its new Pearse Street terminus having operated the first inbound service from Belarmine on the 19th September 2010. At that hour of a Sunday morning there was no issue for space but come Monday space will be at a premium.
And finally not forgotten, the 145 has been amalgamated with Route 92 and extended to Heuston Station. This is another great improvement in the Network Direct scheme, with a significant increase in the number of services along with a reduction in price for customers. The 3 stages from Heuston Station to D'olier Street will now set you back €1.15 as opposed to €1.40 on the 92, though the fare to St. Stephen's Green will remain unchanged.
Transport integration at its finest with a high frequency city bound service, an express service to the airport and a light rail tram service all meeting at a principal railway terminal. AX468 operates the first 0900 departure of Route 145 from Heuston Station. Note how the display says "Kilmacanogue - via City Centre". The lower line of the scroll alternates between a via point as shown above and the Irish translation of the destination, which appears to be the new standard. Another good change for Network Review.
Enviro 400 bodied Volvo B9TL, EV23, is seen turning onto Aston Quay on the 19th September 2010, the date of the amalgamation of Routes 145 and 92. Its showing its correct destination of Heuston Station, the extra space on the LED being taken up to display both words without any short hands, something that hopefully will be continued wherever possible.
But for all the improvements in the implementation of the Network Review, as an enthusiast one can't help but feel some what sad for the services that are no longer operating. As a transport provider the company is trying to make direct services with few deviations. But for an enthusiast its the deviations that offer so much interest.
The 92 service is only 5 years old, however it over time took the mantle of the main bus service to Heuston. The 90 is left with only a morning service, an extra capactity provider for the morning rush, and one wonders whether time will fall on this route. The 91 services were still to be seen going around the city streets this Sunday but again will the 145 see them off.
Conyngham Road's Alexander ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL, AV359, equipped with luggage racks and assigned since delivery to routes 90 and then 92, is seen loading passengers in the last Friday morning peak of its operation on the 17th September 2010.
The 746 began as 46A extensions to the Airport upon the opening of the Stillorgan QBC in the late 90s. The number 746 was an after thought, with the buses originally displaying just 46A, which was somewhat confusing. However the number fitted perfectly with the sequence 747/748 for the Airport expresses. The bus was generally always busy from the airport, providing extra capacity on the overloaded Swords Road corridor, however on its southern leg it would either be empty or take the passengers of a closely following 46A. Hence as part of the Network Direct it has been dropped, which was somewhat of a surprise.
A miserable day accompanied the bowing out of Route 746. AV397, also equipped with Luggage Rack was assigned to its regular route on its last day, 18th September 2010. The new terminal two can be seen in the background, the 746 loading passengers at a brand new terminus at the Atrium Road, now used by all city service buses with only Aircoach and Airlinks at the Arrivals area. Though a pic of a 746 at the Airport is not unusual, this location makes this photo a rarity.
The 46B was also withdrawn on Saturday 18th September 2010. The 46B was itself a replacement for the 64A service in Mount Merrion in 1988, though it involved no change in route. More recently the route has been extended to Sandyford Industrial Estate to generate custom. Always interesting in terms of vehicles, it often had very large vehicles on its route, operating around the very narrow estates of Mount Merrion and will be missed.
The rain eased for a while but it seems when anything interesting was around it began raining again. Fitting I suppose given the loss of the routes. VT13 operates a service from Sandyford Industrial Estate to Mountjoy Square on the 46B's last day of service on Saturday the 18th September 2010. The backdrop is North Avenue, the black mercedes in the background is exiting from Mather Road North of all places.
The 84X to Newtownmountkennedy was a forward step by Dublin Bus, providing a direct express service from one of the most outlying places on its network into the city centre. It worked out significantly cheaper than the equivalent Bus Eireann service, especially when using Travel 90 tickets or with Dublin Bus prepaid tickets. However it never seem to take, possibly the advertisement of the service was not as good as it could have been, and the service finally bowed out on Friday 18th September 2010.
AX642 operating the last ever departure of Route 84X to Newtownmountkennedy on Friday the 17th September 2010.
Finally and possibly most importantly saw the end of the 4A service. Though it only operated for just under 3 years, the 4A along with the 4 provided a high-frequency and highly noticeable service with the AW Class bendy buses. Though its not known for sure whether the bendy's have seen their final operation with Dublin Bus or whether a few will soldier on for a week or so more is unknown, but the company have put them up for tender and they will be sold. Dublinbusstuff is preparing a nice feature on the last days of these buses which I'll put up when its clear they have gone.
Wright Eclipse Fusion bodied Volvo B7LA, AW17. operates an evening Route 4A departure from its Stradbrook Road terminus at the TK Roundabout on Wednesday 15th September 2010. The 4A has been amalgamated with its sister Route 4, which now runs the 4A route to Stradbrook, through the T.K. roundabout to a new terminus at the roundabout on Monkstown Avenue.
But just because a route has remained doesn't mean that it hasn't changed. No more will we see the 63 and the 84 on the City Streets. Anglesea Road has no Dublin Bus service, save a few Ghost Services perhaps. No more will we see those giant VTs trudging through Monkstown Farm and causing a distraction. But we'll always have the memories.
AX638 operates a Route 84 departure from Eden Quay to Newcastle on Mount Street on its last day of city centre operation on the 18th September 2010.
AV329 operates route 63 on its last day of city centre operation on Saturday 18th September 2010. The bus is making the turn at Ballsbridge onto Anglesea Road which has now lost the two services that operated down it, namely the 84 and the 63.
VT13 is seen operating Route 46A in Monkstown Farm on Thursday 16th September 2010. This photo goes to show the narrowness of this road, the road being completely unsuited to the operation of high frequency large capacity buses.