Translink to launch service 'Urby' with 28 new Wrights Group £6.7m Ulsterbuses

This area is for news and questions only.
It is not an area to discuss operators or members
Joined: February 10th, 2010, 8:00 pm

July 10th, 2018, 1:03 am #11

While the NTA has done a lot of good things, it's also done a lot of not so good things - the specification of buses being the key one.

While by necessity the Dublin Bus spec is a bit more practical than what BÉ offers, at the end of the day, the fixed seats are actually significantly less comfortable than the bench seats they replaced. There is no need for dual door buses whatsoever in Dublin, apart from the VTs (which of course the NTA will be replacing with SGs next year), they cost a fair bit more to buy, nobody uses the centre doors even when the drivers use them (I always get off at the front anyway, I like to thank the driver for what is often a thankless job) and they've robbed seats. When we have some sort of rapid transit network and/or they make people pay for their tickets before they board the bus, then yes, dual door is an advantage - but Dublin is far too congested, and anyway the best source of delay in Dublin is the antiquated TGX ticket machines - we're long overdue more modern technology, and also flat fares (which at least is part of the NTA proposals in fairness to them).

The BÉ spec was also significantly better - no dual doors, no short wheel base, proper seats (and a lot more of them), and so on.

The spec in the UK has moved on an awful lot over the past few years, while we're staying stuvk in the past with low spec uncomfortable seats. If profit dirven privates can do it, then there is no excuse at all for buses being bought at the taxpayers' expense.
Quote
Like
Share

bk
Joined: July 4th, 2012, 9:49 am

July 10th, 2018, 12:09 pm #12

SL10 wrote: My point being is that Translink is trying to innovate and move local services more upmarket similar to what is happening across the UK with the trend towards more upmarket double decks on routes with leather seats, 2+1 arrangements, wood effect flooring, skylights, stairs glazing, tables, sockets etc.
That what is confusing me. I'd take a coach any day over an up-specced city double decker bus. The above is all nice, but in the end the ride in terms of smoothness and noise will be FAR superior on a coach then an up-specced city bus, no comparison at all really.

And of course you can add all those features to any coach too if you want. Just look at the Citylink VanHool coaches that have most of the above and have done so for years.

The funny thing is, if in the morning the NTA announced they were replacing the BE coaches to Naas and Navan with the above spec, you would likely be shouting bloody murder. Accusing the NTA of putting lip stick on a pig and trying to sell us on a cheaper and inferior solution then what we already have.
SL10 wrote: The BE spec while not like the above was a relatively good standard, in particular the seating where a more upmarket seat was installed. However the NTA have now taken charge and are ordering smaller buses with much more basic seats. No matter what way it is looked at it is a backwards step rather then going forwards.
But wasn't it BE themselves who ordered the new Expressway buses with seats with very limited legroom and less comfortable seats, not the NTA?

BE spec coaches have never been anything special even before the NTA. The private companies had wifi, power plugs, wood effect, etc. years before BE even started to do the same on Expressway which they totally control.

I think you overestimate how much input the NTA actually makes on new buses. I suspect they are mostly specced and driven by BE/DB, with the NTA just making small adjustments (dual doors for DB, double deckers for Cork) but otherwise more or less rubber stamp the DB/BE specs.
SL10 wrote: Of course in Northern Ireland Translink are allowed operate, develop and innovate on their services as they see fit. Unfortunately in the republic CIE is being micromanaged by the NTA which is stifling innovation. In addition the NTA’s own branding and tendering seem to be its main focus rather then maybe looking to innovate on the specification of buses.
Again, I honestly don't see that to be the case at all. The truth is the CIE companies were always conservative and often made terrible decisions. No double deckers in Cork, only single door buses in DB, no toilets/wifi/plugs on Expressway, double decker coaches with little luggage space operating to the airport. Those were idiotic DB/BE decisions, not NTA.

Lets not kid ourselves, the CIE companies have never been innovative, not by a long shot.
Quote
Like
Share

bk
Joined: July 4th, 2012, 9:49 am

July 10th, 2018, 12:39 pm #13

VWL119 wrote: While by necessity the Dublin Bus spec is a bit more practical than what BÉ offers, at the end of the day, the fixed seats are actually significantly less comfortable than the bench seats they replaced.
While I agree they are less comfortable, the reality is it is more inline with what people want, people don't want to "share" a seat with the person next to them. The new seats feel more modern to the average DB user, then the old fashioned lover seats. Pros and cons, trade offs
VWL119 wrote: There is no need for dual door buses whatsoever in Dublin, apart from the VTs (which of course the NTA will be replacing with SGs next year), they cost a fair bit more to buy, nobody uses the centre doors even when the drivers use them (I always get off at the front anyway, I like to thank the driver for what is often a thankless job) and they've robbed seats.
I literally couldn't disagree with you more. EVERY city bus needs at least two doors and they need to be used at every stop (or passenger operated).

Let me tell you my experience this Sunday heading to Portmarnock. The DB buses to and back were absolutely jammed, literally people squeezed together the entire length of the bus right up to the back row. No room to move at all. As people came down the stairs for their stop, they could see that it would be impossible to make their way to the front. Like literally no room to do that at all! So at each and every stop, people were shouting at the drivers to open the rear door so they could get out. Begrudgingly the drivers opened them!

I'm not kidding, people were forced to shout from the back of the bus at every stop. It was really mad stuff. When you have passengers needing to shout at drivers to use the back doors so they can get off, you know you've got a problem.

Go use a bus in mainland Europe with 3/4 door that open at every stop and you see how poor, slow and painful DB's approach to operating is. It simply isn't acceptable for a busy city.

BTW part of the problem with people continuing to use the front door, is because on the majority of buses drivers don't open the rear door, so you can't blame passengers for being confused and continue to head for the front door. If drivers consistently used the rear doors at all stops or they were passenger controlled, then most would happily used the rear door. You can always thank the driver as you board.

As for lost seats, it is made up for by more standing space. Buses in Europe tend to have far less seating and more standing space anyway. It is supposed to be mass transit.
VWL119 wrote: When we have some sort of rapid transit network and/or they make people pay for their tickets before they board the bus, then yes, dual door is an advantage - but Dublin is far too congested, and anyway the best source of delay in Dublin is the antiquated TGX ticket machines - we're long overdue more modern technology, and also flat fares (which at least is part of the NTA proposals in fairness to them).
Seemingly the TGX's are to be replaced too, thank you god. And we are likely to see a 90 minute flat fare and less driver interaction. We should then be able to do a better flow of enter via front door, no driver interaction, just tag-on and exit via rear door. Not the ideal, but still way better then the current setup.
VWL119 wrote: The BÉ spec was also significantly better - no dual doors, no short wheel base, proper seats (and a lot more of them), and so on.
The city buses in Cork are starting to get busy enough on some routes to need dual doors too now IMO. I do think the Cork double deckers seem nicer otherwise. I particularly like the nice mutli-line next stop screens, much better then DB's useless one.
VWL119 wrote: The spec in the UK has moved on an awful lot over the past few years, while we're staying stuvk in the past with low spec uncomfortable seats. If profit dirven privates can do it, then there is no excuse at all for buses being bought at the taxpayers' expense.
I have to say I find the seats of DB buses to be reasonable for a city bus service. A city bus service is supposed to be mass transit. Transport lots of people to their destination as quickly as possible. Comfortable seats and slow buses that take ages to get anywhere shouldn't be the focus of DB (BE commuter services is obviously different).

I'd rather DB worry less about comfort and focus instead on speeding up services like most city services. The Bus lanes project should reduce journey times by a lot. DB can do their part by reducing dwell times with new ticket machines, new fares, zero driver interaction, use the rear door and thus better flow.

Eventually I'd like to see them move to 3/4 door operation, maybe dual stairs double deckers, even less seating. European style fast, frequent city bus service, where you don't mind standing as the journey won't take so long.

Also hybrid buses and eventually full EV buses.

BTW in doing the above, it will perhaps be necessary to have a different spec for the really long routes. Perhaps something like the above Urby spec. Perhaps those routes should go to BE or perhaps DB will end up having different types of service.

I think we are already seeing the bluring of lines between services with GoAhead operating both some DB city routes and some BE commuter routes.

Really the idea that you need comfort on a city bus service shows why DB's operating model is so badly broken. You want comfortable seats, because you know it will take all day to get to your destination, because you spend an age stopped at every bus stop and because the bus winds it's way through every estate along the way! That is all wrong and broken for a city bus services. City bus services need to be fast, frequent and mass transit.
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: September 19th, 2011, 4:36 pm

July 10th, 2018, 1:07 pm #14

I don’t think you quiet understand the points myself and VWL119 have being trying to make bk.

What I was talking about in terms of citybuses was citybuses that would be bought anyway. As an example. In 2017 BE purchased 35 Volvo B5TL’s/Gemini 3’s and allocated them to Broadstone, Cork, Limerick & Galway. As I said previously the spec wasn’t fancy like the latest UK iterations but significantly different to the NTA & DB. You note yourself that you find the Cork buses nicer - you can thank BE again for that. Also the screen displays,They are another BE specification. BE fits the exact same screen to new Expressway coaches.

This year the NTA has ordered 25 of the same type bus but they are no longer the long wheel base version so less seats. The seats are also basic compared to the half leather bucket seats BE used specify. Surely you acknowledge that this does represent a backwards step?

I actually wasn’t advocating replacing coaches with citybuses at all. I completely agree with you on the coach versus citybus debate but here is another area about to come under NTA influence. The NTA has decided that it wants to replace some of BE’s coach operate routes with citybuses. These ‘regional buses’ will be arriving from next year and as you correctly note will be inferior. While this is fair enough for some shorter runs with poor road surfaces and the 65 km/h limit this is another example of things going backwards with the NTA.

Regarding Expressway and private Intercity coaches - None of that is relevant to this discussion and I wasn’t referring to them either. When I said BE spec I only ever meant its PSO spec not Expressway.
Quote
Like
Share

bk
Joined: July 4th, 2012, 9:49 am

July 10th, 2018, 1:28 pm #15

But BE Expressway spec is relevant, you seem to believe that it is the NTA driving all these spec changes. I'm sure they do drive some (dual doors), but honestly I'm not sure most of the above changes aren't coming out of BE themselves and just being rubber stamped by the NTA.

Expressway clearly shows how poor BE themselves are at choosing coach specs and how conservative they are.

I suspect the NTA doesn't want to be too heavily involved in speccing buses, that should be mostly left to the companies, like they do with the private intercity companies. But frankly some of the decisions by CIE companies have been so poor, the NTA have been forced to step in with high level spec changes (double deckers for Cork, dual door in Dublin).

I agree the NTA are far from perfect, but you seem to like to blame everything on them and give them no praise. The reality is the spec and overall operating models was set by the CIE companies years before the NTA even existed.

The NTA seem to be slowly changing this (e.g. double decekers for Cork), but very slowly, my criticism of them might be that it is too slow. But overall the NTA have been a breath of fresh air IMO.
Quote
Like
Share