A brief tribute to the Ulsterbus & Citybus Leyland Tiger
For most bus enthusiasts in Northern Ireland the late 1970s was a time of transition, as the last remnants of the old Ulster Transport Authority fleet were swept away, replaced by large deliveries of Bristol RELL and Leyland Leopard buses bodied with the Alexander X-type coachwork. This pattern continued throught the early years of the 1980s, but as always things never remained constant. British Leyland wished to discontinue the RELL and Leopard models and had designed a replacement in the shape of the B43 (or Tiger) which was primarily meant as a premium coach chassis. However in bus form it was slelected by Ulsterbus as the most suitable vehicle for ongoing fleet replacement and in due course an order for 80 vehicles was placed. The first of these arrived in 1984 and represented a considerable step forward in vehicle design, both with the new style of Alexander N-type bodywork but also under the skin mechanically. Strangely whilst many operators had mixed experience with Tigers, and the Leyland TL11 engine in particular, they thrived with Ulsterbus such that a fleet of 460 was built up over the years 1984-1989. Whilst it's fair to say that the Tiger has not been universally liked by the enthusiast community over the years, interest in this type has increased, especially as they come to the end of their working lives.By February 2009 less than 50 of the model survived in service and with continuing deliveries of low floor rural buses all the Leyland engined batch had gone by the end of the year.
When production of the Leyland TL11 engine ceased, Ulsterbus persuaded Volvo Bus to produce a version of the Tiger with a Volvo engine. 246 of these chassis were purchased between 1990-2, initially arriving with the usual N-type coachwork, and later with the restyled Q-type or Cityliner which came about due to the desire for a more customer friendly type of vehicle. 25 were also bodied by Wrights and many other different configurations of length and seating style were produced. Again ongoing fleet replacement has reduced the numbers considerably, but at the end of 2010 there are still 80+ Tigers in use in Northern Ireland.
These pages attempt to give a brief history of both these types in Ulsterbus and Citybus service, a listing of the survivors and some views of them throughout their lives.
Part 1: The Ulsterbus Leyland-engined N-types.
Part 2: The Volvo engined Tigers.
Part 3: The Citybus Gardners.
Part 4: The TE's.
Fleetnews front page