Fleet Lists

The fleet lists give details of every bus currently operated by the operator concerned (Ulsterbus, Citybus or Lough Swilly). The layout of the lists is something like:

SeatingDate New MakeModel Body

Click on the headings above to go straight to the required section on this page.

Fleet Number

Fleet numbers are assigned by the companies to new buses in the order they receive them. e.g. the oldest fleet number on a bus in ordinary use with Ulsterbus is currently 107, on a bus which was new in 1978. The newest is 1630, on a bus new in 1996.

There is only one fleet numbering system in use between Flexibus, Ulsterbus and Citybus- this means that if buses are transferred between any of these companies they can keep their own fleet number. The range 1-99 is for Flexibus, 101-1999 for Ulsterbus and 2000- for Citybus. However, there are buses in the Ulsterbus fleet with numbers within the Citybus and Flexibus numbering ranges, and vice versa. By the time numbering of new buses reaches the top of the allocated ranges, the buses at the bottom will have been withdrawn and so their numbers can be reused. A detailed breakdown of the numbering is given below:

Number RangeType of Vehicle
1-99Flexibuses (Minibuses and buses with < 25 seats; usually Mercedes)
105-339Leyland Leopard service buses 1978-84
Leyland Tiger service buses 1984-93
Coaches and Goldliners
601-642Handybuses (Dennis Darts)
700-799Formerly used for second-hand Bristol REs (Citybus)
800-999Busybuses (Mercedes with < 25 seats)
1501-1630Volvo B10M School Buses and Goldliners 1994-
1631-1999Bristol LHs, Bedford YLQs, Leyland Leopards (before 1978- very few remain now)
2001-2600Bristol RE Citybuses and city/town service buses, approx. 1976-86
2601-2699Leyland Tiger Citybuses 1988-92
2700-2761Volvo B10L Low floor buses 1997-
2762-2998Double Deckers
2999-Articulated Buses (Volvo B10Ms), formerly Leyland Lynxes (I think)

Colour coding (doesn't work with all browsers): Green-Flexibus, Red-Citybus, Blue-Ulsterbus

The fleet number is shown on buses in gold lettering on the front, back and at the fuel filler on the right-hand side. On the inside with Ulsterbus it is displayed high up at the front for everybody to see; Citybus hide their fleet numbers above the driver's side window where only the driver can see them. Ulsterbus show the bus's depot letters and code number above the fleet number on the front and back of the bus.

Lough Swilly show their bus's fleet numbers on the front under the windscreen. Some buses have quite large yellow letters, and some have tiny black ones. The yellow ones show up very well when placed on a red part of the livery, but don't look very good over a white part. Most Lough Swilly buses also have their route number blinds set to show their fleet number.

Lough Swilly's fleet numbering system started with bus number 1 in their large acquisition of buses in 1931, which was when their bus services really took off. The small number of buses they acquired in 1929 were then also included in the fleet numbering system. For a while fleet numbering was re-used, i.e. when they withdrew an old bus they gave a new one its fleet number. This practice mainly stopped around the mid-1940s, and from then on each new bus had a unique fleet number. There have been a lot of changes in the Lough Swilly fleet recently, so I'm not sure what the newest and oldest fleet numbers are. The newest would be around 410 on a bus acquired very recently, and the oldest now may only be about 294 (although that wouldn't be the oldest bus, just the one that has been in Lough Swilly's possession for the longest).

The new Leyland Tiger coaches which have been recently acquired from Clydeside in Glasgow have been given numbers in the ordinary range, but previously the special coaches acquired in 1986 were numbered in a separate range, 001 - 003. These 3 buses are the only ones registered in Northern Ireland at present. I think they may have originally been or still be part of some kind of separate company or subsidiary, Swilly Tours, and they would have been Swilly Tours No.s 1, 2 & 3, which nicely explains the separate numbering arrangement. I know the PSV license on 002 definitely says 'L&LSR' on it, so maybe the Swilly Tours subsidiary doesn't exist any more.

Registration Number

The easiest way to identify a bus is nearly always by its registration number. Ulsterbus and Citybus obtain registration numbers to match the fleet numbers they assign to the buses; Lough Swilly doesn't. The numerical part of the reg. no. might match the fleet no. exactly,
e.g. 126: Reg. No. ROI 126, or not as exactly
e.g. 1384: Reg. No. WXI 4384.

Ulsterbus Number Plate

All buses bought new by Ulsterbus and Citybus are registered in Belfast. Belfast registration marks (letters) are: OI, XI, AZ, CZ, EZ, FZ, GZ, MZ, OZ, PZ, TZ, UZ, WZ. Registration was introduced in 1904 and the first number would have been OI 1. Numbering would continue until OI 9999 and then XI 1 would be the next number. When all the letters were used up this way then the numbers would be first with the letters after them, i.e. 1 OI to 9999 OI, 1 XI etc. right up to 9999 WZ. The first few buses bought by Ulsterbus in the late 1960s had numbers ending with TZ, UZ and WZ. In 1969 this system was used up and now we are working through the system of prefixing all the letter pairs with the letters A to Y (except Q), and putting the numbers 1 to 9999 afterwards. e.g. AOI 1 to YOI 9999, AXI 1 to YXI 9999 etc. The oldest buses still in service are ROI and we are currently getting near the end of the AZ range.

Almost all the second-hand buses Lough Swilly buys are from the UK, and are re-registered with Irish numbers shortly after arrival. Most of them are given Co. Donegal numbers, but a substantial number acquired in the early 1980s seem to have Dublin numbers, and there are also the three registered in Derry. There are also a few buses which were acquired second-hand from CIE in the Irish Republic, and so had Dublin numbers anyway, which they have kept. Before 1987, Co. Donegal registration marks were IH and ZP and the system was administered in much the same way as described for Belfast, if possibly a little more haphazardly, especially in Dublin.

In 1987 the Irish government decided to get rid of this legacy of English rule in Ireland (the system was introduced in 1904), and started their own system using letters which corresponded to the first and last letters of the county name in most cases. Donegal received the letters DL, and since 1987 new vehicles have had registration numbers of the form 87-DL-1. The first number corresponds to the last two digits of the year, and the last number gets as big as necessary during the year instead of stopping at 9999 as before. Registrations with new year numbers are issued from the 1st of January every year.

An interesting aspect of the new system, and what I would describe as a fault with it, is that vehicles being re-registered, i.e. most of Lough Swilly's new buses, are given a new-style number incorporating the year of their first registration. This means that there are buses in the Lough Swilly fleet with numbers such as 69-DL-18, which was first registered in 1969. I have seen a vehicle re-registered with a 1930s number- something like 32-TS-1 (TS= Co. Tipperary (South Riding)). If this system is extended back to re-registering a vehicle from 1904, it will mean the current system will only last until 2003 before things start getting confusing. It could possibly be fixed by putting the whole year in the number (like 2000-DL-1), but the numbers would start getting very long then- even smaller letters than currently would have to be used and the numbers would be hard to read from a distance.

I think it would have been more sensible to continue with the old numbering system for re-registering vehicles from before 1987, and then the new system would last for 88 more years.

The letters for Derry (City) are UI and YZ, and Lough Swilly's buses have CUI and DUI numbers.

Depot Allocations

Ulsterbus has 22 depots situated throughout Northern Ireland and these, together with the Ulsterbus Driving School and the reserve fleet, are given given one or two letter codes which I have used in the fleetlists. Citybus has 4 depots plus the reserve fleet; the difference is the depot codes are not shown on the buses, and you can only guess what depot a bus is from by seeing what route it is on or by looking at a list. The same is true for Lough Swilly, although here there are so many depots/outstations with only one or two buses stationed in them, that I have chosen to include the full name of the place in the fleetlists. The codes for Ulsterbus and Citybus are given in the table below.

CodeDepot NameCodeDepot NameCodeDepot Name
AMArmaghLDDerry CountyFFalls Park
BGBangorLYDerry CityRReserve Fleet
BMBallymenaMFMagherafeltSSShort Strand
CGCraigavonNANewtownardsVGreat Victoria Street
DSDriving SchoolOMOmagh
EEnniskillenOXOxford Street (Belfast)
GSGlengall Street (Belfast)RReserve Fleet
LBLisburnVGreat Victoria Street (Belfast)

There are also some small letter codes used after the depot code. These are:

Code after depotMeaning
aAncillary Vehicle (usually tow bus)
tVehicle used for training (in the Driving School)
uCurrently Unlicensed
wWithdrawn from service but still owned


The code for the seating capacity consists of three sections: letters before the seating capacity, the seating capacity itself, and then more letters. The tables below show what the letters mean.

BEFORE Seating CapacityAFTER Seating Capacity
AB Articulated Bus DP Dual Purpose D Dual door (or more)
AC Articulated Coach H Double Decker F Front Entrance
B Bus M Minibus L Chair Lift fitted
C Coach O Open Top Double Decker R Rear Entrance
CH Double Decker Coach RV Usually a tow bus T Toilet fitted
Ch Charabanc


  1. Dual Purpose usually means coach or high-backed seats in a bus body.
  2. RV usually means most of the seats have been removed and the bus is not used for carrying passengers.
  3. Door positions aren't usually given for minibuses.
  4. Seating capacity for double deckers is shown as an improper fraction with the upper-deck seating over the lower deck.

This bus has 49 high-backed seats in a bus body with a front entrance.

This bus is an open-topped double decker, with 42 seats upstairs and 25 downstairs. It has dual doors and a chair lift.

Date New

'Date New' is quite self-explanatory. Some people include 'date acquired' in lists like these, but since almost all of the Ulsterbus and Citybus fleets were bought new I thought this was unnecessary. It might be more useful to include it for Lough Swilly, but I think date new is much more interesting and useful. Several Citybus Bristol REs with AXI numbers were put into service long after they were bought, and for these I have put their date to service in place of the date new, as this gives a more accurate impression of their age.

Make and model

A list of the short codes used for bus manufacturers is as follows:

MakeModelName in Full
AuNAuwaerter Neoplan
BdYLQBedford YLQ
YRQBedford YRQ
BlLHBristol LH
REBristol RE
DrCRGDaimler Fleetline
DsDtDennis Dart
LdANLeyland Atlantean
PSULeyland Leopard
TRBLeyland Tiger Bus
TRCLeyland Tiger Coach
TR2RLeyland Tiger with Volvo engine
MB???DMercedes-Benz midibus
OeMROptare Metrorider
RtMtrRenault Master minibus
VoB10LVolvo B10L
B10M-49Volvo B10M Short Coach
B10M-55Volvo B10M Bendybus
B10M-60Volvo B10M Bus
B10M-61/62Volvo B10M Coach

More details are on the Ulsterbus Vehicle Types page.


Buses normally have their bodies built onto their chassis' by a body builder, usually different from the company which built the chassis. More details will be on the Ulsterbus Vehicle Types page. The list below shows the body codes used in the fleet lists.

CodeBody ManufacturerCodeBody Manufacturer
ArAlexander (Scotland)OeOptare
ArBAlexander (Belfast) PnPlaxton
AuNeoplan / Auwaerter PtrPotters
CoCaetano VHVan Hool
DuDuple WkWillowbrook
ECWEastern Coach Works WSWadham Stringer
MlMarshall WtWright

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