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Citybus, 1973-1988: v. 5
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Citybus, 1973-1988: v. 5 (Paperback)

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Foreword by Frank Clegg, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport - This volume of the "Buses in Ulster" series comprehensively covers the activities of Citybus Limited, with particular emphasis on its bus fleet, from the transfer of the undertaking from Belfast Corporation to the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company and encompasses the years between 1973 and 1988. The organisation was led throughout this period by the inimitable, and highly respected, Werner Heubeck CBE, Managing Director of both Ulsterbus and Citybus. Delivery of service was overseen by the late Max Hale with engineering responsibilities under the auspices of the late Tom Campbell. It is inevitable that the content of this book is heavily influenced by the effects of civil unrest and the difficult operating conditions which pertained throughout the fifteen years. Whilst the fleet inherited by Citybus from Belfast Corporation Transport Department had amounted to 350 operational vehicles in 1973 the requirement had reduced to 297 by 1988. The more surprising statistic is that in the intervening years regrettably 500 Citybuses were totally destroyed.

I cannot record this without remembering the 12 bus platform staff who made the ultimate sacrifice and the countless others who suffered both physical and mental injury in the pursuance of their duties to maintain the province's public transport system. Will's book reviews the Citybus fleet as it changes throughout the Heubeck years. At the outset the Company was able to complete the conversion to one person operation by late 1975, despite the mixture of vehicle types prevalent and the effects of unprogrammed destruction. The policy of standardisation on the Bristol RE, which commenced in 1976, was frustrated by the forced requirement to source 'suitable' (I jest!) second-hand vehicles. Between 1977 and 1979 significant numbers of AEC Merlins, and later Swifts, crossed the Irish Sea for further use in the province. Having joined the Belfast Corporation Transport Department in 1967, subsequently transferring to Citybus Limited at its formation and being principally responsible for service planning, construction of schedules and associated tasks, I acquired an additional remit most certainly not listed in any job description over this three year period.

Every five to six weeks I led a party of bus drivers, travelling to London on a Friday evening by Ulsterbus Express, to collect from London Transport and London Country batches of the said vehicles. The journey back on Sunday and Monday proved on each occasion to be an interesting and varied experience. The vehicles were notorious for overheating and susceptible to fuel starvation and associated problems, rarely resulting in more than two-thirds completing the journey to Belfast uninterrupted. On a number of occasions this outcome was actually less than the number of buses destroyed over the same weekend and you will find within the book an example of an ex-London Country AEC Merlin which was pressed into immediate service, having merely been driven in to Short Strand depot for fuelling and the application of a Citylink logo. Removal of the original owner's name, destination blind, etc were luxuries which necessity did not permit! Eventually, after subsequent purchases of used Daimler Fleetline single-deckers from other sources, at least some level of standardisation returned with recycled Bristol REs, albeit with a variety of body styles.

Having had the privilege of experiencing at first hand the uniqueness of the period, when on occasions timetables, routes and drivers duty patterns had to literally be changed overnight due to constraints in vehicle numbers or freedom of movement, reading this volume of "Buses in Ulster" has evoked so many memories for me, and I hope it will do so for you as you explore the contents.

BusinessIndustry & industrial studiesTransport industriesTransportRoad & motor vehicles: general interest Publisher: Colourpoint Books Publication Date: 30/04/2004 ISBN-13: 9781898392996  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
Availability: To Order. Estimated despatch in 1-3 weeks.  

Will Hughes was born in 1954 and is a native of Belfast. Educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, he graduated in 1979 from the Glasgow College of Building and Printing with a BSc in Quantity Surveying. Travelling back and forth, by both bus and rail, between his home in south Belfast and the city centre school, awakened his interest in public transport generally. The dwindling trolleybus fleet was his first interest but following its demise in 1968 his attention was focussed on the red and cream diesel buses of Belfast Corporation Transport Department, the forerunner of Citybus. Will is the Northern Ireland Sub-Editor of the PSV Circle and prepares monthly reports for inclusion in their news sheets. He has also been involved in the preparation of their last three fleet books covering Northern Ireland operators. His comprehensive records have provided much of the fleet information in this book and also other volumes in the series. For many years he has been the Honorary Chairman of local bus enthusiasts group, the Irish Transport Trust. Will now lives in Lisburn and works for a north Belfast-based Quantity Surveying practice. He is married to Marnie and has two grown-up daughters, Kirsten and Tracey.

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