Dublin Bus celebrates 30 years of service to the community

1990s bus
Images courtesy of Dublin Bus

Dublin Bus was created when the original CIE separated into the subsidiaries of Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann back in 1987.

Since then, Dublin Bus has gone through many changes. The population of Dublin has grown significantly over the last 30 years. This has meant more offices, more houses and of course more bus routes to serve them. In the Ringsend area, at one time the No. 1, 2, and 3 buses served the community. Now it is principally the No’s 1, 77A and the 15A and B.
John Saunders is the manager for the South Dublin Area Bus services. He is responsible for the Conyngham Road, Donnybrook and Ringsend depots. According to Saunders, the buses themselves have been altered and upgraded quite a bit since the mid-eighties.

They were a creamy green colour, blue and orange as well as limited run of wedding buses during the Nineties before becoming their recognisable yellow and blue from the year 2003.
Of course, a well-known upgrade to Dublin buses was the wheelchair ramp, which meant that getting on and off buses was easier, quicker and, more importantly, safer for wheelchair users. This was first introduced in 2000 and the entire service was wheelchair-accessible by 2012.

There were notable changes, one major one being the loss of the bus conductors. There was a driver and a conductor on each bus up until the mid-eighties and indeed the loss of the conductor’s role made a great many staff redundant.
Looking back on those days, Paul Larkin talked about how close the relationship was between a conductor and a driver. “It was like a marriage. You spent more time with them than you did with your wife and family,” he explained laughing.

Indeed, this sense of goodwill and support was reflected in the closeness between many of the drivers and their regular customers. It is still common, in particular, on the smaller routes. Larkin recounted the story of a regular driver, who knew many of his customers by name. Unfortunately, he was unable due to illness to drive his regular route for a number of weeks. His customers sent him cards wishing him a quick recovery.

There were, of course, some funny tales from those days, many of which are recorded in the book “Dublin Legends: Celebrating 30 Years of Dublin Bus Stories” which has been published.
One humorous story concerns the beloved “Statue of Our Lady” fixed to the side of the Ringsend depot, which was recounted by Larkin and Saunders. The statue had to be taken down to be repaired and as such was no longer visible. The community was rather taken aback, some Dublin Bus drivers took it upon themselves to spread the rumour that it had been removed so as to be non-denominational. However, this fib was driven out when the statue was returned to its rightful place on the Ringsend Bus depot.

Dublin Bus has celebrated 30 years of service to the communities of Dublin, through many changes in the cityscape and through cycles of emigration and immigration and changes to the look and character of areas such as Ringsend and Donnybrook.
A principle of Dublin Bus is its commitment to “equality, diversity and inclusiveness” which is clear from their “diverse workforce of drivers.” Another proud boast of Dublin Bus was that in 2016, “for the very first time, an all-female class of new women drivers graduated from its dedicated training centre.” Dublin Bus has served the community for 30 years, a stalwart service amid many changes, and will surely continue to do so for many more.

By Kevin Mac Sharry