Photo of the Week - Week 46:
Its a few weeks since the tender appeared for the sale of VT1-20. The original VTs, these buses entered service on Route 46A on the 18th December 2005, following a few weeks type training. They stayed exclusively on the 46A/B/C routes for 5 years, before allocations began to be made to Route 145. For the last year or so before Go Ahead taking over Route 75, they also appeared on this route. However, there are few vehicle batches so associated with one route from delivery to withdrawal. The 46A is the flagship route of the Dublin Bus network, and even 13 years old, these buses are still the best choice for moving the crowds. They are also built to last, and though their days in Dublin are numbered (with withdrawals expected from December), one can expect them to find a home elsewhere.
The delivery of these buses in 2005 proved Dublin Bus to be a modern bus operator, pushing the norms of bus operation in Western Europe. The VTs offered a huge capacity increase on the premier route in the city. Though these buses are passed their best, and the 46A deserves new buses, it beggers belief that the choice of replacement is low capcity SGs. On a recent visit to Dublin, I travelled on VT3 on Route 46A into the city. At the Belfield stop, VT33 was ahead on the 145, and a Phibsborough VT was in front on the 39A. All 3 VTs left full at about 3pm, how would 3 SGs cope? This withdrawal and non replacement occurs at a time where other major city operators in these islands, such as Lothian, commit to a future of tri-axle double deckers, and London have finally shown interest, with a trial of a tri-axle bus with Go Ahead on Route 12. The VTs weren't perfect in Dublin for two reasons. As more routes in Donnybrook got them, the 46A was operated by a mixture of buses. Smaller buses are quicker because when full they can skip stops, the VTs are less likely to be full. Hence bunching occurs with other vehicle types. They also only had 1 door. With the NTA's policy of dual doors, the VTs make even more sense, as normal size double deckers take a significant capcity hit with centre doors. One can only hope sense will prevail, but probably not until enough complaints arrive at the door of the NTA from local politicians.