One of the most interesting museums of commercial vehicles in the world is located in the Australian city of Sydney. And although it is called the Sydney Bus Museum, its exhibition, in addition to local exotic buses, also displays rare trucks.
The Autocenter correspondent managed to visit it at one time, despite the fact that at that time the museum was closed to visitors due to the building being in disrepair. One clue came to my rescue. Twice a week there was also a Bus Shop there, a shop selling bus literature and models.
In the old depot
The museum is located on the territory of the current vehicle park, in the building of a former tram depot, which was built back in 1912. At one time it could accommodate up to a hundred tram cars. In 1957 it was repurposed as a bus depot, and in 1988 a museum opened here. Today there are over 90 rare buses and trucks.
In addition, various things related to the operation of buses are presented here, from travel tickets of different years of production to the uniform of conductors. An interesting exhibit is a vehicle park entrance from the 60s, equipped with a Time Clock device, which marks the exact time of arrival and departure from work on a personal card.
At the origins
Australia’s first bus route opened on December 4, 1905 in Sydney. Its length was 1.8 km. There were two single-decker Clemsford steam omnibuses operating here. True, there were few passengers, and on April 7, 1906, the route was closed. However, on the 28th a new route, 2.8 km long, opened. They produced two steam engines from the same company, only two-story ones. But due to the high cost of transportation, this route did not last long – until May 29.
The real development of bus transportation in Australia began only in the 20s. By 1930, there were already 587 buses with internal combustion engines operating in Sydney, and 126 in Newcastle. All of them belonged to small private companies.
The first state bus line began operating in 1932. In England, they purchased the chassis of mainly double-decker buses from well-known companies: AEC, Albion, Leyland and Thornycroft with diesel engines. The only exception was Dennis – with a gasoline engine. The bodies were manufactured by Australian companies: Syd Wood, Weddington, Commonweath Engineering (Commeng), Motor Body Assembles (MBA), etc. By 1941, the Department of Road Transport fleet consisted of 375 double-decker buses (the so-called double deckers) and 84 single-deckers.
At a new stage
During World War II, chassis supplies from England ceased. The gradual deterioration of the fleet forced the purchase of gasoline chassis in the USA. The buses built on their basis are known as Austerity, i.e. “ascetic”. They were painted khaki and were simplified to the point of primitivism. A total of 61 such buses were manufactured.
During the war years, tractors with passenger semi-trailers – the so-called. bendi-buses (“flexible buses”); 123 of these road trains operated from 1939 until 1984. One of them is presented in the exhibition (see photo above). This is a tractor based on White (1943) with a semi-trailer from Parramatta Bus Co. (1947). The truck’s cabin was modified by Motor Body Assemblers (MBA): it was lengthened, 4 seats, a toilet and a wardrobe were installed.
During World War II, many buses were painted in standard protective camouflage. At the same time, the paint covered not only the body panels, but also the windows. And only a white longitudinal line was drawn along the lower edge of the body – for the safety of pedestrians in the evening.
After the end of the war, the fleet of double deckers began to replenish again. In 1945–1948 More than 700 chassis were purchased in England. And the bodies for them were still made by Australian companies. All of these cars, like the English originals, had a characteristic narrow driver’s cabin located next to the hood. It was called half-cab. These buses served until 1976.
The evolution of AEC buses with bodies from Commonweath Engineering. The photo on the right is a Regal III half-cab hood (1952). On the left is a Regent III carriage layout (1954). Seats – 54 (seats – 31/32). Diesel – 125 l. With.
Already in the first post-war years, the need to reduce operating costs led to the abandonment of the conductor, which aroused interest in single-decker buses with a cabover layout, where the driver himself bused passengers entering through the front door. In 1950, 100 chassis with a front engine were ordered, and another 100 with the engine under the floor, in the center of the car. The “underground workers” proved themselves better – and from 1950 to 1973 they produced 1,583 such machines. In the 70s Rear-engined buses also began to appear.