Off The Beaten Track

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A Mini-Update For A Mini-Route (111)!

Posted by csalem83 on July 2, 2015 at 2:50 AM

A journey undertaken on Dublin Bus route 111 in July 2015.

I had planned on starting July with an update covering two other routes, but with the fine weather Ireland is currently experiencing and the bright mornings, I decided to do this mini-update instead on a more interesting route. Interesting is probably putting it a bid mildly and peculiar is probably more appropriate. In 2014 I covered the 59, another Dun Laoghaire local route, and found it a bit odd with the way it is routed to serve Dalkey and Killiney. The 111 though is the most bizarre of all the Dun Laoghaire routes. There is nothing unusual about the route it takes between Dun Laoghaire and Loughlinstown Park because it is exactly the same as the one the 7 takes. There is one mild difference and that is at the Dun Laoghaire terminus. Here the bus travels down Marine Road and uses a roundabout at Dun Laoghaire harbour to return back up Marine Road, starting at the first bus stop opposite the town hall, one also used by the 59. The 7 does not stop there (but does pass it) as it serves another bus stop near the railway station  on its way from Dublin. Apart from that little discrepency, the routes are identical through Dun Laoghaire, Glenageary, Sallynoggin and Ballybrack.

What makes the route even more strange is that it has a total of eleven departures a day (Monday - Friday only) split over a twelve hour period. It does three departures in the morning from Dun Laoghaire and another three in the afternoon. Its main purpose to provide some extra capacity along the corridor in the peaks. It can be somewhat useful in the morning as it departs Loughlinstown Park at 08:00, 09:00 and 10:00 when at the same time the 7 is departing from Cherrywood. In the evenings it gives people consistent departure times from Dun Laoghaire instead of having to guess when a 7 will arrive from Dublin. The route is operated by one driver who has a split-shift which gives him a five and a half hour break during the middle of the day. However, it was not always like this. The route started in the mid-1980s as a DART Feeder, one of a number of bus routes designed to tie in with the new electrified suburbun railway system. Passengers could buy through tickets on the bus to destinations along the railway line. The 111 operated all day on an approximately fifteen minute frequency. In the 2001 timetable, for example, it had sixty return trips a day (Monday - Friday) as well as a service on Saturdays. From the start of the new millenium these Feeders went into decline and started to be withdrawn or descoped. In 2009 during a network review designed to deal with the financial crisis, the 111 was cut back to the service we have today and stopped being a DART Feeder service.Many believed this was the death-knell for the 111 but it is still going today, even if it does seem to be on borrowed time.

So what is the attraction of the route to bus enthusiasts if it is just the same as the 7? The answer lies in the type of buses that appear on it. Due to its low status within the Donnybrook routes hierarchy it has never received the best buses and it is often a route where buses go to finish out their days. The most notable example of this in more recent times was the VL-Class withdrawn in 2009. These were the first proper low-floor buses bought by Dublin Bus in 1997/98 and initially were used on routes 2 and 3. As there was only five of them in the fleet they were non-standard and as more low-floor buses arrived their usefulness began to diminish. Towards the end they were used almost exclusively on the 111 as it did not require a high number of vehicles. Today it is generally home to a member of the WV-Class. There are currently three of these midi-buses still in service with Dublin Bus, out of a fleet of 52. All three are based in Donnybrook. One of them works on the 44B as no other bus type can work that route due to the nature of the roads. That route is guaranteed to be 100% WV operated whereas the 111 would probably come in at 90%. If only one bus is available it will go on the 44B, but if there are two then the second one will go on the 111. On the day I travelled on the route I was on WV 52 which is unlikely to appear on the 44B as it struggles on the hills. This was noticeable on the 111 where there are a few minor inclines. The three WVs left are the only single-deckers in the active Dublin Bus fleet. Dating from 2001 they are also amongst the oldest buses in the active fleet. Unlike the AVs from the same era, they are not being refurbished and have an uncertain future. Dublin Bus have put out a tender on a few occassions for new single-deckers and it can't be long before they accept an offer and the WVs will be gone. There can be quite a contrast to be experienced along the route at the moment with the WV on the 111 working in tandem with the 2014 SG-Class on the 7.

Now is as good as time as any to do the 111, otherwise you may regret it!

For the page on route 111, click here

For an overview with some older photographs, click here

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