Routes 17A, N4 and N6:
Last Day of Route 17A:
The last day of a route is always a momentus occassion. The imminent end of a route means greed sets in, cause when its gone its gone. The buses that operated Route 17A on its last day were as follows (though not all at the same time): 11509 (operated the last from Kilbarrack), 11512, 11514, 11517, 11520, 11523, 11524, 11532 (operated last from Blanchardstown), 11556, 11563, 11567, 11568, 11582, 11590 and 11912.
Go-Ahead's 11523 is seen at the main Ballymun Town Centre stops on the Ballymun Road on the 28th May 2022, the last day of Route 17A's operation. This stop is not served by the replacement N6 (click on photo for larger version).
First day of Routes N4 and N6:
Phase 3 of the Bus Connects project was implemented on the 29th May 2022 with the introduction of two new services, Routes N4 (Point Village to Blanchardstown Centre) and N6 (Finglas Village to Kilbarrack). Each serves a portion of the former route 17A which was withdrawn as part of this phase, along with peak-hour only Route 31D from Baldoyle to DCU. Both operate every 10mins daytime, 15mins on a Sunday, with the N4 also being a 24 hour service, operating every 30mins throughout the night/early morning. For more information, including a map, see here for the official NTA booklet.
The N4 operates from the former 17A terminus at Blanchardstown Centre and operates pretty much as a 17A all the way to Glasnevin Avenue via Blanchardstown Hospital, Ballycoolin, Cappagh Hospital and Finglas Village, the one exception being that the N4 operates via Blanchardstown Village which had previously been by-passed by the former 17A. From there it continues onto Collins Avenue Extension, serving DCU, where driver changes also occur. Buses continue along Collins Avenue to Killester Village, where they turn onto the Howth Road, then Clontarf Road, Alfie Byrne Road, East Wall Road, East Road, before terminating at the Point Village.
The N4 is not the first bus to serve the full length of Collins Avenue directly, the original 103 did before it was changed to operate via Beuamont and Ballymun, but the N4 is significantly more frequent and an incredible addition for students of DCU, so hopefully it has better patronage than the original 103 of the late 80s. Of other significance is that the route serves Alfie Byrne Road. Though not the first city service to serve the Alfie Byrne Road, Go-Ahead route 104 already operates along a portion, as did the Dublin Bus 103/104 for a time, it is the first city route to stop on it, as well as serving the section close to East Point Business Park which is a significant area of employment in the city. The allocation of the N4 is predominatly the 2013 batch of GTs, and a mix of NTA-liveried SGs, though PA23 did make it out on the first day for one of the night buses.
The N6 on the other hand operates from Kilbarrack to Finglas Village, following the former 17A route to Ballymun via Tonlegee Road, Oscar Traynor Road, looping into Beaumont Hospital, Santry Avenue and Ballymun. At Ballymun, it turns right onto Balbutcher Lane and follows the 220 route through Poppintree to Balbutcher Way then contines along to Charlestown returning to Finglas Village via St. Margaret's Road and McKee Road, thus not serving the Ballymun Library stops and Glasnevin Avenue section of the former 17A. A stop is provided on Seamus Ennis Road for transfer to the N4, the buses continuing down to the By-Pass, before returning through Finglas Main Street to the terminus close to Seamus Ennis Road. Connections are good from the N4 to the N6 with both buses stopping at the same stops on the Seamus Ennis Road in both directions.
At Ballymun an opportunity would seem to have been missed. The main stops in the centre of Ballymun are not served, albeit stops on Balbutcher Lane have been provided that provide only a short walk to them. These were among the busiest stops for the former Route 17A, and one can't help thinking that in other modern European cities an effort would have been made to retain them. In this case a simple bus only right turn through the central meridian would have allowed the buses to serve Silogue Road in front of SuperValu before continuing onto Balbutcher Lane.
Go-Ahead have allocated 115xx class buses, those that have been repainted into the NTA Green/Yellow livery (predominantly the early numbers). Of note from the photos above is the destination Drogheda Mall. The Drogheda Mall is a line of shops off Seamus Ennis Road, which sure enough the N6 terminates at, and which is the minor description of the stops directly at it. However, this term would probably not be widely known, even to Finglas residents. Given the publicity highlighting the new N4 and N6, and how to change buses at Finglas, it seems a large oversight that these buses are going around with Drogheda on the front of them rather than Finglas. Of further note is the early finish of the N6 compared to the former 17A. The last 17A left Blanchardstown Shopping Centre at 2330, getting to Finglas probably 15-20mins later. The last N6 departs Finglas at 2320, a good 25-30mins earlier. With Bus Connects generally bringing later services on routes, this is a real loss to passengers of North Dublin (in fact the NTA N4/N6 booklet refers to buses after midnight on Saturday/Sunday, so one would assume this was a late change).
First week update:
A brief update on Saturday 4th June 2022 (the first Saturday of operation of Routes N4 and N6). Of significant note is that the N6 Drogheda Mall was updated to display Finglas Village, buses having the updated scroll from Thursday 2nd June. The allocation of the N4 is pretty strict, being dominated by GT129-GT142, with a few NTA-liveried SGs for good measure. PAs have being appearing at night, but on the first Saturday operation a few made their way onto daytime service, with PAs 25, 35 and 40 all doing a number of laps on the N4. Long may it continue as PAs suit the new Bus Connects routes.