The PA-class buses finally hit the streets on the 30th April 2021, quite a number of months after their arrival in the country and their official launch on the 10th December 2020. There were a number of teething issues that slowed down their entry into service, not unusual for a new addition to the fleet, and no doubt exacerbated by the level-5 restrictions enforced during the Covid pandemic. The 140, operated by Broadstone depot, was the first route to see them in service, but many more are pending delivery having been in store in Ardee. It will be interesting to see how fast this new class gets into service, one thinks they may become the norm much quicker than other classes have.
The PA Class are Alexander Dennis Enviro400ER (extended range) buses and can run for up to 3 miles in fully electric mode, having a 32kWh capacity battery (to put in context this is 3000 times more than an IPhone10). The buses are plug in hybrids, with garages across the city being equipped with overnight chargers. It would be ideal if these buses could go into battery operation in the heart of the city, with some form of GPS enablement (something I've not read about), but with a good run in from the outer termini, the batteries may well see more use in the stop-start city locations by design in any case.
There are 74 buses coming in this first batch of PAs, spread around a number of depots. A further 26, making up the batch of 100, have gone to Bus Eireann for operation in Galway city. For Dublin bus, PA1-20 will be allocated to Broadstone Garage for use on Route 140, PA21-41 will be based in Harristown for Route 4, PA42-58 will go to Phibsboro for Route 122, while PA59-74 are destined for Summerhill to operate Route 123. However, another significant order of 180 (not just to Dublin Bus, but distributed also to other TFI services) is in the works, and due for delivery in 2021. This forms part of tenders and plans that would see a significant acceleration of lower-emission vehicles entering the fleet.
Of note in the PA-class is the full rear scroll, which is new in this type, and the formal return to white scrolls in general. The last fleet type to have full scrolls with destination on the rear was the RA-class of the 1960s, with further double deckers just having a rear number. The K-type buses built in the 1980s actually had no display on the rear at all, a CIE manager being noted as saying no-one wants to know what bus they've missed. The comment must have been somewhat outrageous even for its day, given how many buses people get on having seen just the rear number display. So the full rear scroll is a welcome return.