Advertisement
If you have a new account but can't post, please email Niamh on [email protected] for help to verify your email address. Thanks :)
New AMA with a US police officer (he's back!). You can ask your questions here

Should DB look at refurbing old buses?

  • 28-05-2019 5:20pm
    #1
    Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    Is there any reason why old buses cannot be re-engined with more eco-friendly engines with lower emissions? Possibly even battery/electric motors?


«1

Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,382 ✭✭✭ Qrt


    Is there any reason why old buses cannot be re-engined with more eco-friendly engines with lower emissions? Possibly even battery/electric motors?

    It sounds horrifically expensive, especially considering buses don’t have a great lifespan.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    Qrt wrote: »
    It sounds horrifically expensive, especially considering buses don’t have a great lifespan.

    Why would that be? Buses are expensive, but engines are a small part of it. The old Routemaster buses are still on the road in London and they are over 50 yers old. Many are in daily use as tourist buses.

    After all, a bus is a bus, and can be refurbished for a lot less than buying a new one.


  • Registered Users Posts: 333 ✭✭ Dats me


    Why would that be? Buses are expensive, but engines are a small part of it. The old Routemaster buses are still on the road in London and they are over 50 yers old. Many are in daily use as tourist buses.

    After all, a bus is a bus, and can be refurbished for a lot less than buying a new one.


    How much do busses cost?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,907 ✭✭✭ Stephen15


    Why would that be? Buses are expensive, but engines are a small part of it. The old Routemaster buses are still on the road in London and they are over 50 yers old. Many are in daily use as tourist buses.

    After all, a bus is a bus, and can be refurbished for a lot less than buying a new one.

    What would be the point cheaper and easier just to replace them. The routemasters in London are only being kept as a novelty for tourists and work a much easier life than an in service bus. They are now only running them at weekends in London aswell. It's like saying a car can can keep going for 50 years as there's vintage and classic cars on the road. Also passengers by and large prefer modern buses anyway unless of course your an enthusiast.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,382 ✭✭✭ Qrt


    Stephen15 wrote: »
    What would be the point cheaper and easier just to replace them. The routemasters in London are only being kept as a novelty for tourists and work a much easier life than an in service bus. They are now only running them at weekends in London aswell. It's like saying a car can can keep going for 50 years as there's vintage and classic cars on the road. Also passengers by and large prefer modern buses anyway unless of course your an enthusiast.

    Exactly, I always hear of people singing their praises for the AV/AX/ALX buses (yous know the ones I mean) but I absolutely detest them and would be livid if they decided to retrofit them.


  • Advertisement
  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,990 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    Dats me wrote: »
    How much do busses cost?

    About 400k each.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    Stephen15 wrote: »
    What would be the point cheaper and easier just to replace them. The routemasters in London are only being kept as a novelty for tourists and work a much easier life than an in service bus. They are now only running them at weekends in London aswell. It's like saying a car can can keep going for 50 years as there's vintage and classic cars on the road. Also passengers by and large prefer modern buses anyway unless of course your an enthusiast.

    Cars are built as single use vehicles. They are not built to allow any upgrading - in fact quite the reverse, they are disposable. Commercial vehicles are made to be repaired easily, with everything easy to get at. Lorry bodies were frequently changed onto a new chassis.

    Routemasters were in full use for forty years and it was only with the demise of London Transport and their workshops that caused their demise, plus the move to larger capacities. The Routemaster was built by London Transport, and refurbished by them as required, as was its predecessor, the RT.

    It must be straightforward to change the chassis on a bus, which would include the drive chain.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,990 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    Given how heavily buses are used, the massive amount of KM's they drive, they are usually absolutely wrecked after 12 years. Both body and chasis. Their is very little point spending lots of money retrofitting a bus that is also falling apart.

    Separately is is now policy to keep the bus fleet relatively young, reliable and well maintained.

    We use to keep buses running for up to 20 years. But that lead to lots of buses breaking down on the street. That give buses and public transport a bad image. People saw buses as dirty, old and unreliable. That in turn pushed a lot of people away from buses and into cars instead. That was very self defeating.

    The NTA/DB have worked very hard over the last 15 years in modernising the fleet and keeping it young and well maintained and as a result have gone a long way to fixing many of those old ideas people had about buses. They are now bright, modern, clean and most importantly reliable.

    We definitely don't want to be regressing on that.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    bk wrote: »
    Given how heavily buses are used, the massive amount of KM's they drive, they are usually absolutely wrecked after 12 years. Both body and chasis. Their is very little point spending lots of money retrofitting a bus that is also falling apart.

    Separately is is now policy to keep the bus fleet relatively young, reliable and well maintained.

    We use to keep buses running for up to 20 years. But that lead to lots of buses breaking down on the street. That give buses and public transport a bad image. People saw buses as dirty, old and unreliable. That in turn pushed a lot of people away from buses and into cars instead. That was very self defeating.

    The NTA/DB have worked very hard over the last 15 years in modernising the fleet and keeping it young and well maintained and as a result have gone a long way to fixing many of those old ideas people had about buses. They are now bright, modern, clean and most importantly reliable.

    We definitely don't want to be regressing on that.

    Well, if the bus is cleaned properly, then it will not be dirty. If it is retrofitted properly, then it will not be unreliable. If the body is rebuilt as much as needed, it will not be knackered. They redid the 81000 Dart carriages to give the a new lease of life that appears to be successful, so why not buses?

    We see in other countries in Europe who still use trams that are ancient but still fully serviceable, so why not buses?

    Now I do take your point about shiny new buses being more acceptable to the public. We do not manufacture buses, but we could refurbish them.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,163 ✭✭✭ cgcsb


    Well, if the bus is cleaned properly, then it will not be dirty. If it is retrofitted properly, then it will not be unreliable. If the body is rebuilt as much as needed, it will not be knackered.

    Internal retrofit+bodywork + new engine = more than the cost of a new bus. Probably a sad symptom of the western world's throw away society, but there you go.
    They redid the 81000 Dart carriages to give the a new lease of life that appears to be successful, so why not buses?

    We see in other countries in Europe who still use trams that are ancient but still fully serviceable, so why not buses?

    Now I do take your point about shiny new buses being more acceptable to the public. We do not manufacture buses, but we could refurbish them.

    Electric rail vehicles have a lot less wear on them than diesel road vehicles. A lot less moving parts for example.


  • Advertisement
  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    cgcsb wrote: »
    Internal retrofit+bodywork + new engine = more than the cost of a new bus. Probably a sad symptom of the western world's throw away society, but there you go.



    Electric rail vehicles have a lot less wear on them than diesel road vehicles. A lot less moving parts for example.

    You are possibly right, but it is indeed a sad reflection that rebuild is more expensive than new build. Better to spend €350,000 on a shiny new bus and sell the old one for €15,000. Personally, I cannot see how that is good economics. It is not as if it would be a one-off refurb, as the DB fleet is made up of a few models that are all basically the same (or identical).


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,990 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    You are possibly right, but it is indeed a sad reflection that rebuild is more expensive than new build. Better to spend €350,000 on a shiny new bus and sell the old one for €15,000. Personally, I cannot see how that is good economics. It is not as if it would be a one-off refurb, as the DB fleet is made up of a few models that are all basically the same (or identical).

    Maintenance costs go through the roof the older they get and no matter how much preventative maintenance and retrofitting you do, break downs become more common the older they get.

    I'm not sure why you'd want this. I don't think there is any issue with getting the government to buy new buses if needed. The issue as I see it are:

    1) Getting enough drivers for the buses we already have.

    2) Not having enough road space and bus stop space to fit lots of extra buses.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    bk wrote: »
    Maintenance costs go through the roof the older they get and no matter how much preventative maintenance and retrofitting you do, break downs become more common the older they get.

    I'm not sure why you'd want this. I don't think there is any issue with getting the government to buy new buses if needed. The issue as I see it are:

    1) Getting enough drivers for the buses we already have.

    2) Not having enough road space and bus stop space to fit lots of extra buses.

    I am thinking that the retrofit would put electric motors and batteries in.

    If the refurb is done correctly, the bus will be as new - all wear parts replaced.

    Anyway, I think this topic is done, I accept that new will win out.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 4,397 Mod ✭✭✭✭ spacetweek


    You don’t hear about people refurbing cars either - same reason.

    In any case all buses must be replaced by electric models in the next 5-10 years so refurbs of fuel ones isn’t possible.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    spacetweek wrote: »
    You don’t hear about people refurbing cars either - same reason.

    In any case all bus must be replaced by electric models in the next 5-10 years so refurbs of fuel ones isn’t possible.

    Cars are not designed for refurbs, deliberately so. Also, they are cheaper, and the design is changed to frequently, plus the variety is too high, and are not in singular ownership.

    The drive chain is part of the chassis, and the whole chassis could be changed as a single unit.

    This is not likely to happen not because it is not feasible or economic, but because it is not popular.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,990 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    This is not likely to happen not because it is not feasible or economic, but because it is not popular.

    It definitely isn't economic.
    I am thinking that the retrofit would put electric motors and batteries in.

    If the refurb is done correctly, the bus will be as new - all wear parts replaced.

    Batteries are very expensive. Putting lots of expensive batteries in a bus that is already wrecked and probably doesn't have much life wouldn't make sense.

    I think you are massively underestimating how wrecked 12 year old DB buses are. This isn't like a 12 year old car. They would be worked very hard for 12 years, doing major mileage all day, every day.

    Just look at Dublin Coach, they have a lot of 12 year old coaches bursting into flames every other week! And those are actually from really good coach manufacturers, they just have been worked too hard.

    I'd suspect you would have to rip apart and replace almost the entire bus to do what your suggesting. It would likely cost as much as a new one, while giving you only a few years usage.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,441 ✭✭✭✭ salmocab


    I’d imagine that refitting busses to the point of getting two or three times the life span would be like triggers brush.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,253 Mod ✭✭✭✭ devnull


    bk wrote: »
    I think you are massively underestimating how wrecked 12 year old DB buses are. This isn't like a 12 year old car. They would be worked very hard for 12 years, doing major mileage all day, every day.

    Just look at Dublin Coach, they have a lot of 12 year old coaches bursting into flames every other week! And those are actually from really good coach manufacturers, they just have been worked too hard.

    Dublin Bus vehicles would not be worked so hard as the likes of the ex Aircoach Setra vehicles would have. With Dublin Bus there is peak and off-peak, 5-6 hours a day where buses are not on the road and less vehicles required at weekends, as well as peak and off-peak times which means they wouldn't be operating anything near 24x7x364 as vehicles are for Aircoach.

    The thing with Dublin Coach is those 15 year old vehicles have notched up over 3,000,000km on the most intensive schedules anywhere in Ireland. City buses won't rack up anywhere near that, but they would suffer more interior wise through far higher passengers coming and going and the gearboxes and engines would have far more stop and starts than a coach.

    Refurbs can work, but they are a niche market, TransDev have done some good ones in the UK but they really are the exception rather than the norm and tend to be those which are 6-7 years old which they want to repurpose, you very rarely see anything 13-14 years old having anything other than light work.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,907 ✭✭✭ Stephen15


    Cars are built as single use vehicles. They are not built to allow any upgrading - in fact quite the reverse, they are disposable. Commercial vehicles are made to be repaired easily, with everything easy to get at. Lorry bodies were frequently changed onto a new chassis.

    Routemasters were in full use for forty years and it was only with the demise of London Transport and their workshops that caused their demise, plus the move to larger capacities. The Routemaster was built by London Transport, and refurbished by them as required, as was its predecessor, the RT.

    It must be straightforward to change the chassis on a bus, which would include the drive chain.

    I was under the impression that the reason the routemasters were kept going for so long in London was purely for sentimentality reasons and not practical reasons. Other cities in the UK and Ireland including Dublin had similar buses that were withdrawn and replaced with closed door buses in the 70s and 80s.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    Stephen15 wrote: »
    I was under the impression that the reason the routemasters were kept going for so long in London was purely for sentimentality reasons and not practical reasons. Other cities in the UK and Ireland including Dublin had similar buses that were withdrawn and replaced with closed door buses in the 70s and 80s.

    That might be true for the London Transport routes, but over 1,280 are still in use around the world.

    In the 80s, the Routemaster was already over 25 years old. First one entered service in 1956, last one in 1968. Over 45% of them are still in existence. It was replaced because it required a conductor which meant that it had a very short dwell times. It also had no passenger doors that allowed passengers on or off when the bus was caught in traffic.

    The remaining Routemasters are all over 50 years old. DB are scrapping (well selling off) buses that are 15 years old.


  • Advertisement
  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,990 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    The remaining Routemasters are all over 50 years old. DB are scrapping (well selling off) buses that are 15 years old.

    London Bus (and other cities) have the same policy for all their normal fleet of buses. The Routemasters are kept around just for tourist reasons.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    bk wrote: »
    London Bus (and other cities) have the same policy for all their normal fleet of buses. The Routemasters are kept around just for tourist reasons.

    Yes, that is now but was not the policy when LT did their own rebuilding in their Park Royal facility. (I think they changed in the late eighties). Buses were regularly sent for refurb/rebuild every decade.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,990 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    Yes, that is now but was not the policy when LT did their own rebuilding in their Park Royal facility. (I think they changed in the late eighties). Buses were regularly sent for refurb/rebuild every decade.

    Same in Dublin in the past, they use to get refurbished. And they use to break down regularly and everyone thought buses were old and unreliable and it lead to many people moving to the car instead.

    I really have no idea why you'd want to bring back those crappy old days!


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    Some sums.

    New bus €400,000. So 100 buses cost €40 million. If a bus refurb costs half that figure, then that would save €20 million. A lot of work can be done for €200,000 on an old, but serviceable bus. New engine, gear box, back axle. Replace all wear items with new. Tighten all wobbly bits. etc etc. Replace the upholstery. The basic body would need a bit of tidying, but they are usually sound.

    Now if that work was carried out in Ireland instead of importing, that would be a substantial saving, and would create about 250 jobs for mechanics and other trades. It would have to be done for real, not a mickey mouse attempt at a Arthur Daly lock-up back street garage type job.

    It would be worth investigating.


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,976 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011


    I would suggest it has been investigated and dismissed as inefficient already, by many operators.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    L1011 wrote: »
    I would suggest it has been investigated and dismissed as inefficient already, by many operators.

    Currently, every major business goes for outsourcing. No better way to outsource than to go and buy new.

    However, it could be a standalone business. There used to be a very good business refurbing aero engines in Saggart. Not sure what happened to it.


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,976 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011


    Who do you expect to provide engines and transmissions for an old vehicle, including updating all certification to prove it meets updated Euro requirements

    Do you expect the manufacturer to continue providing parts, support, manufacturers liability etc for an old vehicle which you have extensively modified?

    The buses DB are currently removing from service use a bodytype last built in 2006 on a chassis last built in 2006. Alexander Dennis and Volvo will be winding down support and parts stock for them at this stage



    Lufthansa Technik did overhauls - not refurbishment, completely different concept - to published manufacturer specs using original parts. They left as it was cheaper to do it elsewhere, not because of any change to the industry.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,907 ✭✭✭ Stephen15


    devnull wrote: »
    Refurbs can work, but they are a niche market, TransDev have done some good ones in the UK but they really are the exception rather than the norm and tend to be those which are 6-7 years old which they want to repurpose, you very rarely see anything 13-14 years old having anything other than light work.

    I thought the GTs that transferred from DB to GAI got a fairly significant overhaul hence why they were out of service for so long.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,907 ✭✭✭ Stephen15


    Some sums.

    New bus €400,000. So 100 buses cost €40 million. If a bus refurb costs half that figure, then that would save €20 million. A lot of work can be done for €200,000 on an old, but serviceable bus. New engine, gear box, back axle. Replace all wear items with new. Tighten all wobbly bits. etc etc. Replace the upholstery. The basic body would need a bit of tidying, but they are usually sound.

    Now if that work was carried out in Ireland instead of importing, that would be a substantial saving, and would create about 250 jobs for mechanics and other trades. It would have to be done for real, not a mickey mouse attempt at a Arthur Daly lock-up back street garage type job.

    It would be worth investigating.

    But there wouldn't be a warranty for said bus unless any such manufacturer provides. Also the older buses that DB are of a lower spec than newer ones lack of separate wheelchair and pram space, lack of centre doors etc.

    Also would an overhaul last as long as a new brand new bus? There are no such companies that do such overhauls based in Ireland at the the moment and you also have to take into account that overhaul would mean a bus is off service for a couple of months at a time when being overhauled without a replacement bus.


  • Advertisement
  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,073 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    Stephen15 wrote: »
    But there wouldn't be a warranty for said bus unless any such manufacturer provides. Also the older buses that DB are of a lower spec than newer ones lack of separate wheelchair and pram space, lack of centre doors etc.

    Well, the refurb would carry a warranty from the company that did the refurb. There is no reason why the refurb could not refit 2nd doors, or places for wheelchairs. What I envisage is not a repaint job with a bit of service. I would see a new chassis with new engine and drive chain. Most of the old bus is fine, and replacing the wear parts would not cost more than 50% of the new bus, but would render the result equivalent to a new bus. Most of a bus does not wear out, particularly the main body. The windows, for example, would not need to be replaced no matter how many passengers have stared through them.
    Also would an overhaul last as long as a new brand new bus? There are no such companies that do such overhauls based in Ireland at the the moment and you also have to take into account that overhaul would mean a bus is off service for a couple of months at a time when being overhauled without a replacement bus.

    It would in essence be a new bus. It is already done with trains, as the 81000 Dart trains were redone a few years ago, and the Enterprise Carriages are being redone.

    The bus would be off the road for a while, but not as long as the ones that get scrapped.


Advertisement