This feature looks at the introduction of G-spine services G1 and G2, and the corresponding low frequency Route 60, on the 17th October 2022, the 4th Phase of the Bus Connects network redesign. As part of these changes, the southside leg of Route 40 (formerly Charlestown Shopping Centre to Liffey Valley Shopping Centre) was dropped with the northside leg kept and operating to Earlsfort Terrace.
G1 \& G2:
The G1 and G2 are the core services introduced for the new spine. The spine runs from the Gala on the Ballyfermot Road to New Wapping Street in the Dublin Docklands. Buses operate along the spine every 7.5mins weekdays, increasing to a 6min headway at the peak hours, while Sunday service is every 10mins. Both services are 24 hour, with buses running every 30mins in the early hours of the morning. The G1 and G2 each provide half of the overall frequency, i,e, the G1 and G2 are typically every 15mins each Monday-Saturday, while having an hourly service between midnight and 4am.
The G1 operates from Red Cow Luas via Woodford (being the city-bound service for Woodford when the 13 is withdrawn at a later stage) to the Nangor Road, then operating along Parkwest Avenue to join the former 79A route operating via Cherry Orchard Avenue and Clifden Road to join the spine at the Ballyfermot Road. The G2 on the other hand operates from Liffey Valley Shopping Centre via the former Route 40 via Fonthill Road, Neilstown Road and Coldcut Road to join the spine on the Ballyfermot Road.
Conyngham Road's SG353 is seen operating the G2 at a congested Liffey Valley Centre on the first day of operation the 16th October 2022. On the map it is shown that outbound services proceed towards the location of the new bus interchange underconstruction and then back towards the new terminus opposite the old long-lived Liffey Valley 40 (former 78A) terminus, but on the first day buses just proceeded to the new terminus (click on photo for larger version).
The core section of the spine follows Route 40 from Ballyfermot Road to High Street via Emmett Road, James Street and Thomas Street. It then serves Winetavern Street, in both directions due to the addition of a contra-flow bus lane, then onto the quays down to New Wapping Street, Sherrif Street to terminate on Castleforbes Road at a set-down only location. To return buses operate via Mayor Street (along the Luas tracks) turning left onto New Wapping Street for its first stop which is shares with the N4 to the Point Village. It proceeds up the north quays to Eden Quay, then across Rosie Hackett Bridge onto Burgh Quay. Buses stop on Eden Quay in both directions, while Burgh Quay also has a stop outbound.
Conyngham Road's SG451 is seen on Castleforbes Road having completed the G1 to Spencer Dock on the 16th October 2022. The bus has pulled in a bit up from its set-down stop as cars where parked in its bus bay. This stop is only set-down which seems unnecessary as it could provide a closer link to the Point Village and the significant housing around (click on photo for larger version).
The first day of operation was not without issue. Running time seemed to be exceptionally short, especially given increased running time and higher reliability were common trends among earlier launches. Hopefully this can be rectified soon. There were numerous cancellations and bunching throughout the day. With there being less buses through Ballyfermot to the city with the launch of this new spine, the hope must be that the interlacing and therefore combined frequency leads to a better service to Ballyfermot than the 40/79 individually did. This will only be the case if the service runs reliably.
Conyngham Road's PA227 is seen operating the G2 on the new contra-flow bus lane on St Michael's Hill under the wonderful arch of Christchurch Cathedral on the 16th October 2022. (click on photo for larger version).
Buses were well turned out on the day, all in the new TFI green and yellow livery. The destinations displays are somewhat confusing, at least to this author. Spencer Dock refers to the large interchange point originally proposed in the Bus Connects Plan, same as for the N4, which has not materialised and the terminus is a bit beyond Spencer Dock. More importantly, the via point on the G2 scroll could lead to confusion, albeit it is correct. Cherry Orchard Industrial Estate, which is what Cherry Orchard IE stands for, and also Cherry Orchard Hospital are served on the Ballyfermot Road by the G2. However, for most Dubliners, Cherry Orchard refers to the area served by the G1, the former 79 route. Given the G1 refers to Parkwest Station as its via point, a less arguable via point such as Neilstown would be clearer for the G2. Or given the spine is to highlight a core service, should the difference in the two services be highlighted by the via points (something achieved by the different route numbers and destinations) over the similarities, e.g. a via point consistent to both such as Ballyfermot.
The other service introduced with the G-spine is Route 60, operating from Sir John Rogersons Quay to Red Cow Luas via Ballyfermot. Route 60 is a former service to rural locations in north county Dublin such as Boot Inn and Leas Cross, that was withdrawn in 1997. It is therefore odd to see it return, and especially running to Ballyfermot and Clondalkin. But continuing along the theme of reintroducing former route numbers like Route 6 and Route 52 in earlier rounds, it satisfies the network design principals that no route number used before the launch of Bus Connects will be used after it.
Route 60 principally replaces Route 79. It preserves a link between Ballyfermot and Heuston Station and the South Quays, is the sole service down Decies Road and through Spiddal Park and introduces a new link to Clondalkin and Red Cow, albeit all only on a hourly frequency. From Red Cow Luas, Route 60 proceeds up Monastery Road to Clondakin Village, then via Ninth Lock Road to Station Road. From Station Road it proceeds up Palmerstown Way and Parkwest Avenue as per the short lived Route 79X service. It then joins the G1 for a short distance around Cherry Orchard Avenue before heading up Blackditch Road following the former 79 routing towards Spiddal Park. Unlike with the former 79 service, Spiddal Road is served in both directions, and Claddagh Green and Blackditch Drive are used to exit onto Ballyfermot Road (as per the former 78 service). It then serves the stop at the Gala but not at the Shopping Centre, instead serving LeFanu Road and Kylemore Road to return to the former 79 routing which it follows until Ormond Quay, continuing along the quays to the Samuel Beckett Bridge which it crosses, then looping into Hanover Quay (as per the former Tours routing in this area with the stop outside Spar being returned) before terminating on Sir John Rogersons Quay. Buses proceed back across the Samuel Beckett on return, crossing Memorial Bridge (with driver changes at Tara Street Station) before serving the Burgh Quay stop with the G-Spine.
Conyngham Road's SG431 is seen turning off the unique LeFanu Road section of Route 60 onto the Ballyfermot Road on the first day of operation, the 16th October 2022 (click on photo for larger version).
Harristown's SG588 is seen on Earlsfort Terrace having completed a Route 40 service from Charlestown Shopping Centre on the first day of the new terminus, the 16th October 2022. Note that this is set-down area of the C-Spine Xpresso services and the 40 set-down stop is closer to the junction of Hatch Street (click on photo for larger version).
Route 40 was the main service through Ballyfermot up until the G-Spine launch, operating from Charlestown Shopping Centre on the northside to Liffey Valley Shopping Centre on the south/west side. With the G-Spine replacing the Ballyfermot section of Route 40, there is still a need for Route 40 to be preserved on the northside and thus Route 40 was ammended to operate from Charlestown Shopping Centre via its former routing to College Green then operating via Grafton Street, Nassau Street, Kildare Street (returning Dawson Street), St. Stephen's Green to Earlsfort Terrace. On return buses operate via Hatch Street onto Leeson Street Lower, with the Embassy of Malta Stop being the first stop outbound.
Harristown's SG497 is seen at the first stop of Route 40 outbound on Leeson Street Lower outside the Embassy of Malta operating to Charlestown on the first day of the new routing, the 16th October 2022 (click on photo for larger version).
The 40 stop on D'olier Street has been replaced by a stop on O'Connell Bridge (sharing with Routes 4 and 7) which makes it easier to transfer to the G-Spine. The new routing is interesting because it is the first step in merging the Finglas services with the Kimmage services to create the F-spine, which will operate from Finglas to Stephen's Green and then use Cuffe Street and Kevin Street to serve Clanbrassil Street and onto its southside termini. It is a useful connection for the residents of Finglas, who had long had a Stephen's Green connection with the 140, and the peak-hour only solitary 40A service before that, but had lost it due to Luas cross-city works.
Route 40 had been jointly operated by Conyngham and Harristown prior to the G-Spine launch, whereas now it is operated solely by Harristown depot. It is interesting that the 40, itself only extended to Ballyfermot to replace the 78A service as part of Network Direct just over a decade ago has cemented itself in my mind at least as a Ballyfermot service, although obviously not as Ballyfermot as the very long-lived 79. I wonder how long the G routes will take before they are strongly associated in everyone's mind.
Last Day of Routes 79/A:
Conyngham Road's SG428 is seen at the Route 79 terminus at Spiddal Park on the last evening of Route 79 operation, the 15th October 2022. The bus stops have already been updated, Route 60 being listed on the stop with Route 79 already removed (click on photo for larger version).
Route 79 was the original Ballyfermot service. It was the first route to serve "old" Ballyfermot back in 1933 with a service to The Ranch, started by the St. Augustine Bus Company and later acquired by the DUTC. Withdrawn for the war period, it was returned in 1949 and extended up to Ballyfermot Church in 1950. This compares with the Ballyfermot 78, which then became the 40 and now is the G2, which started only in 1953. Cherry Orchard would be served from 1983 and the 79A would join the 79 serving Parkwest from 2005. With the 78's association with Ballyfermot lost with its merger with Route 40 in 2011, the 79 was the last reminder of those older times, and now it too has been lost to the history books, replaced by Route 60 and the G1.
The October light is fading on Conyngham Road's EV59 as it begins to load a Route 79A service to Park West on the last evening of service, the 15th October 2022. Ad-less, EV59 didn't have too long left on the road, being withdrawn on the 17th October, but in the end the PVR reduction for Conyngham Road turned out to be a bit hasty and EV59 returned to service on the 12th December (click on photo for larger version).
The 79/A loss will no doubt be most felt in the Decies Road area of Ballyfermot. Loadings had always been good there, especially towards Ballyfermot, and the hourly service provided by Route 60 is a big loss on the 79 service. One wonders why Ballyfermot didn't receive more L routes, Decies Road being an obvious contender for another hourly service interlaced with the 60 linking to Ballyfermot Village. Such a route might also be able to preserve the link from Kennelsfort Road to Ballyfermot and provide a service to the Old Lucan Road when the 18 is withdrawn this year, with the 80's proposed loop into the other end of Palmerstown Village in one direction not really serving anyone.