Snow Feature 2010 - Image of the Week 47/48:
Clontarf's Enviro 400 bodied Volvo B9TL, EV89, is seen in the grounds of Cappagh Hospital, the terminus of Route 104, on the 2nd December 2010.
I've decided to merge this week's and last week's image of the week sections into a big snow feature with a few extra photos from the current cold snap. The miserable nature of the winter season for bus photographers, the dark evenings, cold days and general wet weather of winter is very occasionally broken by a little bit of white magic. For those few days when snow settles on the ground, the city's appearance undergoes a drastic change. Everything glistens and shines, as a white fluffy blanket settles on Dublin City.
However, after nigh on 10 days of icy conditions I'm hoping that we are coming to the end of the current cold snap. Slow walking, sliding and general issues with everyday living become very tiresome. Hence I've decided to put a feature together with the best of what I hope to be my complete photo collection from the current cold snap. And what better way to start than a bus fit for the occasion. Clontarf's impeccable EV89, all dressed in white, is shown above in snow covered Cappagh hospital.
Harristown's Alexander R-bodied Volvo Olympian, RV587, is seen crossing a very icy O'Connell Bridge in a snowstorm on the 1st December 2010.
The avid bus enthusiast must brave all conditions in the hunt for an interesting photo. One of the most interesting is during heavy snow fall, as seen above with RV587. The cold does get to you after a while, the standard task of standing and picking them off in a location such as O'Connell Bridge is not advisable and you have to make do with one or two before moving on before icicles form.
Conyngham Road's EV62 at its Merrion Square terminus awaiting departure to Dodsboro on the 28th November 2010.
EV62 is offset with a fantastic backdrop on Merrion Square above. The recent move of the 25 routes back to Conyngham Road has provided the interesting daily allocation of one or two EVs onto the routes. WV50 is shown below in Rossmore, one of the less visited of Dublin Bus termini, first served when the 150 was launched during the Sector 4 changes of 1994. The Ringsend WVs are now all the more interesting due to the withdrawal of the 00-D batch from Route 123. Time is probably not on their side, so now's the time to get pictures before they're gone.
Ringsend's Wright Crusader 2 bodied Volvo B6BLE, WV50, is seen on Orwell Park operating a Route 150 service to Rossmore on the 28th November 2010.
The first snow falls in the early hours of Saturday 27th November 2010 where quite heavy. In a Zhivago moment, as I opened the curtains and peered out on the blanket of snow below, I felt the need to run out immediately to take some photos before the snow melted away. However I was too late, as in a bustling city such as Dublin, the major roads had already turned to slush due to the traffic volume. The photos weren't that snowy and all I got for my troubles for standing in the central reservation in Donnycarney was covered in slush by a passing jeep with no concern for safe levels of speed. However a photo of Route 20B is always worth including and ex-Airlink AV119 is shown early on the 27th November. VG30 is photographed further up the Malahide Road on Route 27B, which has had quite an interesting allocation since the transfer of EV37-EV50, the stalwarts of this route, to Summerhill.
Summerhills Alexander ALX400 Dual Door bodied Volvo B7TL, AV119, is seen at Donnycarney church on Route 20B after the first fall of snows on the 27th November 2010.
Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B9TL, VG30, is shown operating Route 27B on the Malahide Road on the 27th November 2010.
From the first day services were curtailed due to the snowy conditions, though at this point the curtailments were limited. One of the services affected by the snow was Route 120. Services were running short, serving only the first stop in the Pelletstown Estate. They looped at the roundabout at Phelan Avenue instead of continuing further into the estate down Royal Canal Way and Rathbourne Avenue. VG1 is shown below negotiating its temporary terminus, a roundabout with a quite interesting feature, it has a bus lane through it. VG1 in order to turn about had to go the long way round.
Phibsborough's Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B9TL, VG1, is seen operating Route 120 on Phelan Avenue roundabout on the 28th November 2010.
Dublin Bus have been very good at advising passengers of curtailments on their website since the start of this extreme cold snap. Regular updates are made and notably very early in the morning and late at night, showing the company's forward thinking to matters that clearly don't fit with a 9am-5pm normal working hour timeframe.
It was Wednesday the 1st December that the conditions became untenable. A long and heavy snow shower fell on Dublin around lunchtime. Within an hour or so the city had ground to a halt. Witnessing the conditions for myself, the streets were basically ice rinks. Parnell Square was the first to be affected, as buses found it difficult descending Parnell Square East, and assailing Parnell Square West.
Harristown's Wright Eclipse Fusion bodied Volvo B7LA, AW3, is seen departing its stop on O'Connell Bridge heading for Monkstown Avenue on the 1st December 2010 in very heavy snowfall.
Parnell Square West finally ground to a halt around 2pm, as buses found themselves unable to progress up the incline. Within minutes the whole city was affected, as a stream of buses filled the streets approaching. It was a sight to be seen to be believed as one by one buses tried in vain to make it around other stricken buses. What was noticeable was that more than an hour later, not one member of An Garda Siochana had arrived to help out. Only for the ingenuity of some of the individual bus drivers the street would not have got going again, though by the time it did it was tediously slow and most buses were long since out of service.
A long line of stricken buses on Parnell Square West on the 1st December 2010. The road resembles an ice rink, the author risking life and limb walking on it for a photo.
With the city ground to a halt, the road conditions only got worse. With traffic not moving there was little chance the council could grit the roads, though its in the opinion of this cynical author that its more important for us to get into work on time so not to love man hours, than it is for us to painstakingly make our way home in the evening during our own time. Though some drivers continued, the situation was approaching farcical.
Dublin Bus did try to get the services back running, the company advising that they had their own teams out gritting the roads, something I bore witness too, but to no avail. Most drivers felt the situation was unacceptable for bus operation, those that felt it was ok to continue made little or no progress on mostly impassable roads.
AX595 leads a long line of pulled in buses as services get quickly pulled due to the worsening conditions on the 1st December 2010.
The only downside to the information coming out of Dublin Bus ocurred on this night. At about 4pm there was some effort to get the city services going again, but it was a losing battle. The drivers who attempted the journey from the city, did so at speeds slower than walking pace, the conditions approaching treacherous. This author walked home in all of 90minutes, about twice the normal time required, and yet still made it out quicker than the one or two buses that tried to make it out my way. However listening to the relations officer that evening on the radio walking home, I felt the gravity of the situation was not being truly expressed to passengers waiting to get home. Phrases like "the following routes are still running" would suggest that there were a number of buses on the road providing a reasonable service, not one or two at snail's pace that were possibly not going to return to the city, which from a number of locations was unreachable.
The RTPI system at Donnycarney Church on the evening of the 1st December 2010.
One of the funnier features of the way home was the RTPI display at Donnycarney Church. It should be noted that the system is under trial, has not been launched, and this display is only sporadically on. However it was on on the 1st December, and if the display is to be believed there were 5 buses scheduled in the next 17 minutes. In fact there were none, the sign just tormenting the waiting passengers with the words "due" but then nothing over and over again. Buses had stopped operating into the city at this point, though the last brave stragglers had yet to pass outbound. Without any "real" information to use the RTPI system resorted to guessing the arrival of scheduled services.
RV556 operating a Route 16 departure southbound on the South Circular Road on the 3rd December 2010.
As the snow melted it was necessary to head slightly further from the city for a shot of some good snow. The South Circular Road provided a suitable backdrop on the 3rd December 2010. RV556 is actually heading southbound. It's allocated to Route 16, however all southbound services were operating to Nutgrove. Possibly without any Route 16 Nutgrove displays, Santry was incorrectly shown, most others resorted to just displaying 16A.
The final picture is also from the 3rd December, the snow on Dame Street almost fully gone. Route 16 is again the route, but something interesting is always worth posting. El Hybrid, WH1, was out and about, as it has been for all of this current cold snap.
Wright Pulsar Gemini Hybrid Bus, WH1, is seen operating Route 16 to Santry on the 3rd December 2010. The snow has melted away leaving ice on the footpaths.