The Colours of Dublin City


UI Developer

Dublin is a city known for its many sites: Liberty Hall, Trinity College, The Spire and Temple Bar to name but a few. Taken together these define the look and design of the city, and help to make Dublin what Dublin is. There is one aspect of the city that probably plays a greater role in the Capital’s visual design, one that everyone who visits Dublin sees but probably does not even notice. I am of course talking about Dublin Bus. In 2017, Dublin Bus turned 30 making this a good time to look back at the different liveries it has had over this period, to see how the design has changed and how it influenced the city’s palette in each decade.



In The Beginning…

When Dublin Bus started operations in February 1987 a new livery had not been finalised. Most buses were still in the predominant CIE livery, a rather uninspiring all over tan, which in some ways reflected the decade it was introduced – the 1970s.

Although this livery dominated, the buses built by Bombardier in Shannon in the early 1980s had been delivered in a two-tone green. This was the basis upon which Dublin Bus developed a new livery, coming up with a two-tone green scheme divided by an orange stripe. They also designed a new logo which was the letters “d b” back-to-back to form a castle. This logo is still in use today.

Some 1990s dynamism…

The green livery made it through most of the 1990s before the company felt some change was needed. The last new buses delivered in the two-tone green arrived in 1997. Everything after that was in a slightly more radical livery of blue/orange/cream. The dynamic orange stripe became a more abrupt angular line, with more depth at the back of the bus and an overlap into the blue at the front. This was quite a change from what had come before.

Three buses showing the evolution of the Dublin Bus livery from green to yellow

A mellow millennium…

Although this livery was a bit more dynamic, it was not one for the 21st Century. In 2004, new buses started to arrive with a new look. It carried over some elements from the previous versions, such as the dark blue on the bottom, but angles were out and curves were in, and the cream gave way to a more mellow yellow. The orange stripe became two stripes: one narrow and white, the other starting off narrow before becoming wider and in a light blue colour. Unlike the orange, the light blue made it up to the roof at the rear.  Yellow may be seen as mellow, but this was a much more vibrant livery compared to what had gone before, and as a result brightened up Dublin. On a sunny day Dublin streets are a sea of sunshine yellow.

The future is bright?

The current livery has been with us now for thirteen years, making it the longest lasting of all Dublin Bus colour schemes. With the NTA taking over responsibility for awarding bus routes and ordering the buses, there is talk of them adopting their own neutral livery which all operators in the city will have to use. It is currently unknown what this livery will look like, but the visual impact of Dublin seems likely to change soon. What will be the colour of the city for the next decade?