A CONCISE HISTORY OF DUBLIN (AND IRISH) BUS SERVICES
The origins of bus services in Dublin go back to the first horse tram, the Terenure route, in 1872. A network of tram routes developed quickly, and the network was electrified between 1898 and 1900. By then, all tram services were provided by DUTC (Dublin United Tramways Company).
The early part of the 20th century brought the motor bus to cities. New housing estates were built that were not served by trams, and new tracks were not being laid. Development between 1913 and 1923 was stopped by a succession of labour dispute (the 1913 “lock out”), World War 1, 1916 insurrection, war of independence and civil war.
When life stabilised in the new state, some bus services started to areas not served by tram. Buses were also emerging as competition to the trams.
Tram routes were not numbered until 1918. Route 1 was Ringsend, then going clockwise to route 31 to Howth. Present day bus routes 2, 3, 7, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 18 and 19 trace their origins to tram routes of the same number.
DUTC decided they needed their own buses to stay in business and continue to serve the whole city. First route was 43 to Killester in July 1925. DUTC bus routes were numbered from 39 to 51, starting northwest to Blanchardstown, then clockwise to Clondalkin. Suffix letter “a” was also used , initially for related routes (e.g. 39a to Clonsilla) and later for routes that were not related (e.g. 50a was not a Crumlin route). Route numbers 52 to 54 came a few years later, but these were the only numbers used until 1936. Present day routes 39, 40, 41, 42, 45, 46a, 48a, 49 and 53 trace their origins back to the 1920s numbering system
In the meantime, 1925 legislation had amalgamated all the railways in the new Irish Free State as GSR (Great Southern Railways). The exception was railways that crossed the border, primarily the GNR (Great Northern Railway). GNR also took a decision to get into the bus business, starting in 1929. Their network was based around the northeast, and first bus route was a Drogheda town service. But they also brought bus services to routes close to the rail line in north Dublin e.g. Howth, Malahide, Skerries.
The early vehicles were primitive, petrol engined, mostly small seating about 14 passengers, and with few passenger comforts, even having solid tyres. They came from a variety of suppliers and typically had quite short lives in service.
The bus scene was chaotic, with little regulation and intense and often dangerous competition. Legislation in 1932 effectively eliminated competition and forced private operators to be taken over by the main companies. DUTC had an effective monopoly by 1936.
1936 was therefore an important year in the development of a robust system that had stood the test of time. The route network, including all routes taken over from private operators, was given numbers, which went up to 84 (later 85 was added). The fleet numbering system was also established, with a different letter for each vehicle type. All the buses inherited from private operators were renumbered, as were DUTC's own buses.
The mid to late 1930s were also important in the changes in the buses used. More comfortable, more practical Diesel buses were now available from both Leyland and AEC. Single deckers from these manufacturers, bodied by DUTC themselves at Spa Rd. in Inchicore, along with double deckers to come from 1937 on, were to replace all older buses in the DUTC fleet by the end of the decade.
The other key decision taken at that time was to close the tram network. This started in 1938 and had been mostly done by 1941 when wartime meant lack of availability of replacement buses, so the tram routes 6/7/8, 14 and 15 survived to the end of the decade.
Double deckers were first in DUTC service in December 1937. A fleet of 242 were in service before the wartime restrictions. These were mainly used to replace trams on routes 2, 3, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 and 30. But they also took over some bus routes, such as 48/a, 50 and 83. New double deck cross-city routes 20 and 54 were created by amalgamating previous single deck radial routes.
Manwhile, GNR started double deck service in Dublin a few weeks before DUTC, while Cork had petrol engined double deckers to replace the tram system in 1931.
Many existing bus routes that overlapped converted tram routes were cancelled around 1940/41, as the system settled down.
Buses were in 5 garages – Clontarf, Conyngham Rd., Donnybrook, Summerhill and Ringsend (opened in 1941 to replace Lime St.).
Fleet in 1941 consisted of AEC Regals A1 – A46; Leyland Lions N3 – 103 and Leyland Titan double deckers R1 – 242. This remained the fleet until after the war in 1945, except that some single deckers were cannibalised, with only 125 surviving; and four double deckers built on single deck chassis entered service in 1944 (R243 – 246).
CIE was created on 1st January 1945 by the amalgamation of DUTC and GSR, putting all bus and rail services (except companies such as GNR that operated cross-border) into one company. GSR fleet was about 300 buses, mostly petrol engined. The single deck buses were replaced between 1948 and 1953 by P class Leyland Tigers. There were 20 double deck petrol buses in Cork, and these were all gone by 1950. 14 diesel double deckers became R247 – 260. The last ten of these were built by DUTC in 1941 and saw service up to 1960.
The late 1940s saw expansion and replacement of the last trams. New double deck buses to Dublin were 6 Daimlers, DR1 – 6, 11 AEC Regents AR1 – 11, and 230 Leyland Titan R261 – 490. The Titans included 20 “Queen Mary” (R261 -280) with smaller engines than later buses; 100 “Boltons” (R291 - 390); 50 “Capetowns”(R391 - 440) and 60 “Standards” with distinctive triple upper deck front windows.
Dublin fleet in June 1950 consisted of 458 double deck buses and 130 single deckers spread over the five garages. Single deckers included 6 of the new P type and 6 BP s based in Conyngham Rd. For the airport service. Some R class had been moved to Cork to replace the petrol engined RP class.
Routes operated by garage were as follows:
Clontarf D/D (double deck) 20/a, 30, 42, 44a, 53, 54/a (part of); S/D (single deck) 51a, 53, 53a
Conyngham Rd. D/D 9/10(part of), 23, 24, 25/26, 66/67, 72, 79; S/D 38, 39/a, 51, 65, 68/69, 70/80
Donnybrook D/D 6, 7a/8, 9/10(part of), 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, 43, 44, 46a, 48a; S/D 45, 45a, 47, 47a/61, 52, 59, 62, 46/63, 82, 84, 85
Ringsend all D/D 2/3, 21, 22, 49/a, 50/a/b, 54/a(part of), 77, 81, 83
Summerhill all D/D 12, 16/17, 19/a, 40, 41/a/b/60
New routes in late 40s included 20a, 22, 38, 79, 81. Conversions to double deck were 40, 41, 42, 44, 44a, 46a, 49/a, 66/67, 72, 77.
First half of 1950s was mainly production of single deck Ps to replace the prewar petrol engined buses in the provinces, also the As and Ns in Dublin. In total, 361 Ps were built between 1948 and 1953. An additional 106 double deckers were built, including 6 for airport coach service (R541 – 546), 6 using bodies of withdrawn Daimlers DR1 – 6 (R575 - 580) and “Standards” up to R596. These allowed new routes such as 22a, 34, 37, 42a, 50b, 55, 56, 64/a and 78/a/b. Converted to double deck were 39, 51, 65, 47a/61, 62.
Also into service at this time (1954) were the U-class, a small batch of 38 Royal Tiger buses, split almost evenly between city and provincial.
The period from 1955 to 1961 saw the elimination of all the prewar Rs (all up to R260) as well as the AR fleet. 237 new Rs and 152 longer RA types replaced them, as well as expanding the fleet. Routes 45 and 53 went double deck. The double deck fleet in Cork and Limerick was growing to support places of employment such as Shannon and Whitegate. Galway also got its first double deckers for city services.
In 1958, GNR was absorbed, with CIE taking its city and provincial routes and 158 buses. Routes 29/a, 31/a, 32/a and 33 were added. Around the same time, route 86 replaced Harcourt St. trains while routes 87 and 88 replaced Hill of Howth trams.
By 1961 the Dublin fleet consisted of 640 double deckers and 90 single deckers. There were 97 double deckers in the provincial fleet.
The main focus for the next 5 years was single deck. E class and C class replaced the Ps. One man operation (OMO, later to be called OPO) came in 1963, with most conductors on provincial routes disappearing quickly. One man operation on single deckers came to Dublin in 1965, with U class converted for this purpose.
Much needed double deck capacity came from re-engining the “Queen Marys” for further service, rebuilding of the 6 airport coaches, and the provision of 26 new buses built on old single deck chassis (R901 – 926). New routes were 28, followed by OMO routes 27 and 36. All provincial U class transferred to Dublin at this time.
The first forward entrance rear engined double deckers arrived in November 1966. There were 410 in service by 1971, with more routes converted from single deck (45a, 68/69 and 84). Fleet was expanded, and all Rs dating from up to 1950 were withdrawn. Provincial double deck fleet was growing quite rapidly at that stage.
In 1971, a new garage was opened in Phibsboro. Routes transferred there were 10, 12, 19/a, 22/a, 34/a, 40/a/b/35, 38/a, 39/a. Other garage transfers brought 20/a and 54/a to Summerhill, 15/a/b and 65 to Ringsend, 21/a to Conyngham Rd.
The Dublin fleet now (recorded February 1972) had 780 double deckers and 78 single deckers. The double deckers included 350 of the new Ds and 420 R/RA class “half cabs”, nearly half the fleet replaced in 5 years. Single deckers were 61 C class and 17 U class. The C class had replaced all remaining Ps and were quickly replacing the Us as new M class buses took over from them on provincial services.
The 1970s were not a good time for bus services in Dublin. Most of the housing development was in the “new towns”, rather than on the city fringe, and these were built with high car ownership in mind. Longer routes such as 25, 39, 49, 51, 66 and 77 were expanded with extensions and new variants (25a, 51b, 66a/b, 77a etc.). Bus usage on many routes declined, leading to cutbacks and eventual cancellation of routes such as 12, 47a/61, 72 and 81. New “orbital” routes came, starting with the 17 and 17a.
Meanwhile, another 192 Ds in 1973/4 were followed by 238 Ds (D603 to 840) with different body style. The CIE (former DUTC) bus building plant at Spa Rd. was taken over by Van Hool. The logic was that bus building was a speciality, and more production than CIE needed was required for an efficient plant. The hope was that export orders would come, but the enterprise collapsed, leaving Ireland with no bus production facility.
These new buses saw the end of the standard R fleet in Dublin by June 1976, as well as withdrawal of many RA class. R class were already gone in the provinces, except in Waterford, where two (R741 and R788) lasted into 1977. The remainder of the RA and R900 class continued in service until 1981/82 when the next fleet replacement happened. Last half cab service was on 2 April 1982 from Clontarf garage.
1872 – first horse trams to Rathgar
1898/1900 – tram system electrified
1925 – first DUTC bus route, the 43 to Killester
1929 – first GNR bus route, Drogheda town service
1936 – DUTC has absorbed all private operators in Dublin; new route numbering system; new fleet numbering system
1937 – first DUTC and first GNR double deckers in Dublin
1938 /1941 – most of trams replaced by buses; all 5 bus garages in use (CT, CR, DB, RE and SH); all inherited bus stock gone by 1939
1945 – formation of CIE by amalgamation of DUTC and GSR
1948/49 – last trams replaced by buses
1954 – last of prewar single deckers (A and N class) replaced by P class
1956 – first prewardouble deckers gone; all gone by 1960
1958 – CIE takes over GNR bus services
1959/61 – RA class to service
1963 – first provincial OPO service (then called OMO); 1965 first in Dublin
1966 – D class Atlantean forward entrance double deckers to service on route 19
1971- Phibsboro bus garage opened
1976 – last R service in Dublin (Waterford 1977)
1981 – Bombardier KD class to service
1982 – last half cab RA service on 2 April
1986 - first OPO double deck route 38a
1990 – Olympian RH class to service
first minibus services; City Imp and CitySwift
last D in service
2000 – Low floor AV fleet; Last KD
Harristown garage opened
Tram routes from 1/2/3 (Ringsend /Sandymount) to 30/31 (Clontarf.Howth) clockwise - most route number determined from southside, northside mostly served by cross-city routes
Bus routes 39 to 51 clockwise radiating from Blanchardstown to Clondalkin in 1925; 52/53/54 added later; also 39a, 43a etc used (sometimes variants e.g. 39,39a, other times no connection e.g. 51, 51a).
Route numbers up to 84 when all private operator routes added by 1936.
Tram routes become bus routes of same number between 1938 and 1949.
Many routes cancelled in late 1930s, some of the same numbers used again on new route in 1940s/50s e.g. 64, 78, 79, 81
Some new routes given low numbers in tram range, e.g. 22, or routes filling the gap e.g. 34,35,36
GNR routes added in 1958 gives 29/a, 31/a, 32/a, 33
First Dublin single deck OPO routes from 1965 – 52, 53a, 59, 70/80, 85, 88; first new route OPO in 1966 are 27/a and 36/a.
Early 1970s new orbital routes 17 and 17a.
DART feeder routes new routes 90, 101, 102, 103, 111, 113, 114 and existing routes 52, 59 and 88 in 1985.
Orbital routes 75, 76
Minibus routes 210, 220, 230; conversion of 83; followed by 120, 130, 134, 145 etc
CitySwift 25a, 39, 40, 46a, 78a etc.
Expresso and 1999 expansion of peak only extra routes
Merging of 19a/155 and of 34/83
New century, new high frequency routes 4, 128, 140, 145
DUTC/CIE single deck
A 1 – 46 AEC Regal 1934 – 1953
N3 – 103 Leyland Lion 1936 – 1954
T1 – 5 ex – GSR Leyland Tigers, 1934 – 1956
T6 – 8 ex-GSR wartime Tigers, 1942 – 1958
T9 – 23 built by CIE 1947 on GSR chassis, 1947 – 1958/1962
P1 – 30 high body Tigers, built 1948, originally provincial but most transferred to Dublin
P31 – 361 low body Tigers, built 1948/53, w/d early 60s to early 70s. P161 – 170 and 271 – 290 coaches; P216 - 270 city buses; rest were provincial with roof storage; P291 – 361 were narrow body for rural roads
U1 – 50 Royal Tiger coaches, painted in yellow livery. 1953
U51 – 88 Royal Tiger buses, new 1954, w/d early 1970s. U51 – 70 provincial, later OPO city; rest always city, originally rear entrance, but converted to OPO in mid 1960s.
E1 – 170 Leyland Leopards, new 1961 – 64, w/d early to mid 1980s. Provincial, but a small number in Donnybrook for a while when new
C1 – 270 Leyland Leopards, new 1965 – 1968. C71 – 99 city buses in Donnybrook, C71 – 79 for airport service (later Summerhill); C191 onwards were 11m long compared to 9.1m for the rest. C201 – 220 261 – 270 were coaches, C253 – 260 luxury seating for express work. Many “short” Cs transferred to Dublin in early 1970s to replace Us and Ps, when replaced by Ms on front line provincial work. Most became school buses in the 1980s.
M1 – 213 12m Leopards built 1971/72. M194 – 213 were coaches. Nearly all re-engined in later years and reclassified as MG (81 buses, GM engines) or MD (72 buses, DAF engines). Most lasted in service into the 1990s and were transferred to school bus fleet.
GNR single deck
Gardner, - 95 buses built by GNR to own design between 1937 and 1952. Fleet nos. 200 - 220 241 – 259 318 – 330 361 – 402. 55 of these passed to CIE in 1958, becoming the G class. All w/d in early/mid 1960s.
A class. 30 AEC Regals (403 – 432) dating from 1948. 427 – 432 were coaches. All with CIE provincial and most became school buses in late 60s. One operated from Clontarf for a short while in 1959 after the amalgamation.
AU class. 33 AEC Regal 4s (260 – 276 331 – 346) dating from 1954/55, most lasted into 1970s in CIE provincial and became school buses. 2 operated in Clontarf in 1959.
U class. 4 Leyland Saro bodied Tigers , dating from 1952. These went onto Dublin city services, lasting into the early 1970s. U 228 was Louth registered (the rest Dublin) and was probably the only Louth registered bus to operate out of C Road and Donnybrook garages.
DUTC/CIE double deckers
RP1 – 20 were Cork based petrol engined Leyland Titans, dating from 1931/33, and lasting until 1947/50
DR1 – 6 were Daimler CWD6, new in 1946. They were w/d in 1954 and the bodies transferred to R575 – 580. They always worked route 72.
AR1 (AEC Regent 1 new in 1946) and AR2 – 11 (AEC Regent 3 new in 1947) always were in C Road and worked route 23 for most of their time. They were w/d in 1961.
R seating capacity – shorter Rs with about 58 seats were R1 – 260 291 – 440 575 – 580. Others were longer with an extra seat row, seating 66 or later 68 passengers.
R1 – 242 were Leyland Titan TD types (R1 – 50 were TD4; R51 – 234 TD5 and R235 – 242 TD7). Built by DUTC into service 1937 to 1941. w/d 1955 to 1960. The higher number buses (approx R220 up) went to Cork in late 1940s. These buses mainly replaced the trams, but also replaced single deckers on busy routes. They were the mainstayof the fleet in the 1940s, and up to the mid 1950s in Clontarf, Summerhill and Ringsend.
R243 – 246 were built in 1944 on Tiger single chassis. They worked from C Road on the 25. w/d in 1959.
R247 – 250 were ex-GSR timber framed TD4s , built by GSR, in service 1936, w/d 1956/58. They were the oldest Rs, older than R1. They were designated R class when merged as CIE in 1945.
R251 – 260 were built by DUTC for GSR in 1941 and were TD7s. They were identical to DUTC TD7s. R258 – 260 were Limerick registered and worked their all their lives. They were joined by R254 – 257 in the late 40s, the others being in Cork. All the Limerick buses saw short service in Dublin in 1960 before final withdrawal.
R261 – 280 “Queen Marys”, date from 1946/47. w/d finally 1967/68. These were the first 8” wide buses in Britain or Ireland. Originally on the 16/17, most spent the best part of their lives on the 30 in Clontarf. They had 8.6litre engines, were under powered and had a very distinctive wailing engine sound. They were fitted with new engines in the early 1960s (all except R262, with was w/d then).
R281 – 290 The first OPD2/1 “Standards” to CIE body style, built in 1948 and w/d 1968/70.
R291 – 390 Imported Leylands to “Bolton” body style. These buses spent all their lives in Donnybrook, they had an unusual destination/route number layout, and quite attractive red seats. Some of them replaced the trams on the 14 and 15. A small number went to Cork and Limerick in 1967. w/d between 1967 and 1971.
R391 – 440 Imported to “Capetown” body style, mostly replaced the last tram, the Dalkey tram.
R441 – 540 547 – 574 581 – 596 Leyland OPD2/1 “Standards” dating from 1949/50 (to R490), 1952/53 (to R540); 1954/55 the rest. R466 – 478 were in Cork from new and replaced the last Rps. All would have had a life of about 20 years, some longer. They were mostly associated with Donnybrook and C Road when new , but moved around as they got older.
R541 – 546 Airport specials. Built in 1953 in Aer Lingus colours, with most of lower saloon for baggage. Used to have a bus for each flight, and bus would show flight destination on the scroll. So a bus could be seen in Drumcondra with destination “Amsterdam”.These were converted to standard bus configuration in 1964 and worked out of Donnybrook (with R545 in Clontarf for some months) until w/d in 1974.
R575 – 580 were created on Leyland chassis with the bodies of the Daimlers DR1 – 6. They were built in 1954/55. They were generally on route 72.w/d in 1971.
R597 – 798 were “Standards” built 1955/58, mainly to replace the early prewar Titans. They were w/d in 1975/76, replaced by the Van Hool bodied AN68s. These buses were mainly allocated to Clontarf, Summerhill and Ringsend. R791/2/8 had autotransmission as experimental buses, and were mechanically similar to the following RAs
R799 – 833 came in 1958 and lasted to 1976. They were mechanically similar, but with different body styling. Many of them operated on the Howth Rd. routes for many years.
RA1 – 152 Leyland Titan PD3s, into service 1959/61, w/d between 1976 and 1982. These were the first 74 seater buses. They were initially allocated to routes 7a/8, 22/a, 16/a, 50/a/b/56, 19/a and 46a. But they moved to many other routes from 1967 on. All worked in Dublin, none ever in Phibsboro.
RA137 was painted in a new blue & cream livery, which was later applied to all double deck buses on overhaul, as well as new buses up to 1974. Up to 1961, all DUTC and then CIE buses were green. Single deck livery was changed to red in 1960.
R901 – 926 were PD3 Specials, built in 1964/65 by Dundalk Engineering Works using engines and parts from withdrawn P class single deckers. They were initially in Summerhill and associated with the 40 route. They went to Phibsboro with the 40 , but later all ended up in Clontarf. They were w/d between 1977 and 1981.
D1 – 602 were Leyland Atlaneans, into service between 1966 and 1974. D1 – 218 were single door with 78 seats, the rest were dual door with 74 seats. They served in all garages except Clontarf. Many were in provincial cities, with some coming back to Dublin in late life. w/d started in 1982, with many lasting well into the 1990s., with last withdrawals in 1995 These buses were built by CIE in Spa Rd. But as the facility was handed over to Van Hool McArdle in 1974, D522 and D524 onwards were in fact built by them. Ds up to 410 had Leyland 9.8 litre engines, buses from D411 up had larger 11.1 litre engines. Most Ds from 407 up were re-engined with DAF and redesignated DF class.
D603 – 840 were also Leyland Atlanteans, but with different chassis and different body styling. They were built by Van Hool in Spa Rd. and went into service between 1974 and 1979. Most lasted until the mid 1990s, last withdrawals being in 1996. They were the first forward entrance buses in Clontarf, and they were used throughout the system, including Cork and Limerick. They brought with them a new livery of all over tan, which was later applied to all Ds and city single deck Cs.
GNR double deck
All passing to CIE became AR class, all with about 58 seats except 299 – 307 had 66. All were fitted with platform doors except 289 – 292/4/6/8, but only 299 – 307 440 – 442 had them from new.
62 – 67 were Regent 1s. 62 and 63 entered service in 1937, actually before R1 in DUTC, the rest in 1939. They were w/d in mid 1950s.
285 – 288 were Regent 2, new in 1947 and w/d by CIE at end of 1960.
289 – 298 were Regent 3, new in 1948 for city service, w/d 1967
299 – 307 were Regent 3, longer body, new in 1953/4, w/d late 1960s; 300/5 detroyed by fire in 1955
43 3 – 442 were narrow bodies for rural routes; 433 – 439 were new in 1948, the rest in 1953; all w/d by 1967.
All passed to CIE except 62 – 67 300/5.