Dublin Bus feeling off-colour yet again
WHAT eats diesel and changes colour every decade?
Answer: The Dublin Bus fleet.
And just when commuters had become used to the yellow and blue livery, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has ordered that the company get the painters in and change the colours all over again.
As part of plans to create one public transport company for the capital, buses, commuter trains, DART and Luas will be repainted and rebranded under a 'Transport for Dublin' umbrella.
The Dublin Transport Authority, due to start work early next year, will be tasked with creating a single brand for public transport.
All buses, trams and trains will have to be re-painted, uniforms changed, stationery redesigned and stops replaced.
And while the companies are remaining tight-lipped about the costs, it's likely to run into millions of euro.
Dublin Bus alone has almost 1,200 vehicles, with more due to come on stream, while Iarnrod Eireann has dozens of DARTs, and the Railway Procurement Agency tens of Luas trams, which will have to be altered.
But there's nothing new in rebranding, Dublin Bus says.
"As vehicles evolve and change, the colours change too," a spokeswoman says.
The new logo and colours (yellow and blue, introduced from 2003) go right across the service to stops and buses and everything.
The spokeswoman adds:"It's just upkeep and maintenance, it's like painting your house. The average age of the fleet is six years -- one of the youngest in Europe. There was decades of underinvestment, but thankfully that's changed."
In the cash-strapped 1970s and 1980s, yellow buses under the CIE logo -- many of which were cast-offs from other towns and cities -- took Dubliners from A to B.
Not until 1987, when Dublin Bus was formally set up, did new buses arrive.
And when they did, they were green. At the same time, the 46a route -- the busiest in the country -- became a 'driver only' route, ushering in the age of conductor-free buses.
Around the same time, buses could be repainted at short notice to be used at particular events -- some lasting only hours.
When Stephen Roche won the Tour de France in 1987, a specially-designed bus was commissioned. Another took Santa from Dublin Airport into the city, while the millennium celebrations of 1988 also saw specially branded buses.
In 1993, the Dublin Bus brand was changed to white with some 'imp' buses -- painted yellow and red -- introduced on certain routes.
They were short-lived. "They weren't accessible, and we had made a commitment to make all of the fleet accessible. The passenger numbers were growing as well, and the 'imps' weren't big enough, so double-deckers were introduced," the firm said.
In 1998, everything changed again and buses were painted blue and cream, with orange relief. Five years later, in 2003, yellow and blue came in.
In the meantime, the famous 'bendy' buses were tried, and rejected.
"They could only go on certain routes, and you get more bang for your buck with the double decker. Of the 1,182 buses in the fleet, only 20 or so are bendy," Dublin Bus says.
And there's going to the further changes down the line. More buses are likely to run on biofuels, and bigger vehicles will come on stream.
And, be warned, you're being watched. Every single bus in the fleet now has CCTV security.