JUNE, 2009

The Newsletter of the Omnibus Society Inc., PO Box 9801, Wellington, NZ

Editor: Mike Secker – Contact details at the foot of the last page.


            DRIVERS… The Society often needs the volunteer services of any member with a “P” licence who can offer to help drive some of the Society’s charters, which are a source of vital revenue to help fund the maintenance and restoration of our vehicles. If you wish to gain a licence, the Society can help you do this. Please phone Henry Brittain, Ph. 476 4155, or Peter Rendall, Ph. 970 1405.          


            OUR SOCIETY, DEPOT AND FLEET… thanks to Henry Steele, Henry Brittain

            Relevant to the above box about “Drivers”, member, Henry Steele, informs me that he now has his Class 2 licence with P endorsement. Well done, Henry….may you enjoy long and pleasurable use of your new qualification.

            Henry Brittain reports that parts have been removed from Leyland Leopard 420 for use on the Omnibus Society’s 462, with some parts being in use already. Also, a number of injectors have been sourced from Kilbirnie.


            RECENT EVENTS… thanks to Michael Berry

Rendall’s Rambles Magic Light Show, 8 May, 2009

On a dark cold night in the pouring rain, I wondered why I was venturing out instead of staying in by the fire. However, Peter’s house was warm and welcoming and I settled in for a virtual trip around the world. Along with a handful of other members, we enjoyed a look at buses, trams and trains that were different to the ones we know in New Zealand. San Francisco’s trams include old European examples as well as the classic look of the native PCC type. Of course, the cable cars were a must-see. Hong Kong provided a modern Metro system as well as three axle double deckers for our viewing pleasure. Surprisingly, London provided a relatively small number of scenes and featured a variety of modern buses and the Croydon tramway.

Most of the photos were taken on the Continent, starting in Italy and travelling to France via a few countries in between. Obviously, European manufactured vehicles predominated and featured some stylish designs. The townscapes in the background were equally fascinating. Peter travelled extensively and related stories of the many trips that were made to the end of the line and back.  He photographed several trains in Europe and it was upsetting to see the way that graffiti was daubed over the rolling stock and infrastructure, even in Switzerland.

After exhausting the pictures from his trip, we viewed photos that Peter had on his computer from all over New Zealand from the near and distant past. A light supper closed a pleasant evening. And when I went outside, the rain had stopped.

I would like to thank Peter for hosting this event, and Morris Moller for providing the projection equipment.


A PLEA FROM IAN ROBERTSON…. ( I am including this piece from Ian, in edited form, hoping to give it a wider airing. – Ed.)

            This is a last minute effort to save a bus preserved from the days when New Plymouth City Council operated local bus services. You may know someone who would be prepared to help save the bus from destruction. The last AEC Regal IV bus that was purchased and operated by New Plymouth City Council from 1954 was given to Taranaki Aviation, Transport and Technology Museum (TATATM) for preservation. I have received word that the TATATM committee is proposing to the AGM on 21 June that the bus be sold as scrap.

            Briefly, its history….nothing much was done with the bus until an effort to restore it in the late 1990s. It was at times stored under cover and outside. A group of up to ten people, led by Ben Uncles and me, spent many hours dismantling and restoring parts of the body that had deteriorated. The team dissipated for various reasons and work stopped just as exterior panelling was being refitted. Since then the bus has remained under cover in the workshop and all the parts kept with it. As some pipes and cables were removed to facilitate restoration of the body and chassis, it is not at present mobile under its own power.

Preserving the bus would require: 1  A place to store it and maybe work on it.

                                                  2 Money to pay for continuing restoration, some of which may have to be done commercially. Funds exist for this type of activity. New Plymouth District Council has contributed about $10,000 toward the restoration so far.

                                                  3 A person/organisation to take ownership and responsibility for maintaining and using it.

 If you are able to help in any way, please contact Ian Robertson.

( Note:  Before I completed this issue, Ian advised me that he’d had a good response to his own mailing out of the above with most responses showing a desire to save the bus, and the search is on for under-cover storage for it when TATATM want to be rid of it.  


            FORTHCOMING EVENT…thanks to Henry Brittain, Michael Berry and, especially, Peter Rendall

            (*and watch for further news about a Trolleybus Festival later in the year. After all, sixty years ago, in 1949, the current Wellington trolleybus system was inaugurated. These were my original opening words – now read the disappointing news. Ed.)

The current news on this Festival, planned to start on Friday 23 October, 2009, and run through Labour Weekend until Monday 26 October, is not at all as cheerful as first planned. Peter Rendall advises that, after a meeting with Bruce Kenyon of Go Wellington, he has discovered that the fraught relationship between Go Wellington, the Regional Council and Wellington Cable Car Ltd (owners of the overhead), has seen a decision taken that there will be no weekend trolleybus operations until 2011 at least….!!!

WCCL entered into a contract with a lines maintenance company which didn’t allow for weekend operations – in complete disregard of the Regional Council’s decision to maximise trolley use…!!! As Peter puts it, we’ve been caught in the crossfire ! Go Wellington have asked that we defer any weekend operation plans for at least a year !

            Bruce is happy for us to do something on the Friday. We will have available 2-axle and 3-axle 300 series buses and a preserved Volvo for tours. If work on the fleet continues, we could slip in a trip or two between Karori Depot and Karori Terminus using 90, 119 and, possibly, 39.



Gus Weir’s World Tour of the U K

Part Six!  We’ve arrived and how!

            Arriving at London Heathrow from Munich in July 2004 was not without its problems, such as three times around the stack before landing and then forty-five minutes touring the airport taxiways waiting for our air-bridge slot to be vacated by the previous occupant which had a technical problem, before we could disembark from our aircraft.

            Things were not right yet, we were to be met by a courier for transfer to our hotel, but no courier appeared. After many phone-calls by the Information Counter staff, he turned up as a black cab forty-five minutes later!  Things should have been OK but no, our hotel had had a ‘computer glitch’, was overbooked, so we had to transfer to another.  Not a very auspicious arrival. However things came right and we began our exploration of the UK big smoke next day, much of which I described in Part One of this series.

            On this trip, we spent only a few days in London before departing on a coach tour of Europe. On arriving back in London, we took a further coach tour around the British Isles. Obviously bus or tram nuts do not run the tours, so opportunities to view buses and trams do not occur very often!  However, I tried to see what I could. In Europe I managed to see the new Brussels Bombardier LRVs, the Karlsruhe Duewag LRVs, and many Mercedes Benz Citaro rigid and articulated buses. In Munich there were handsome blue and white MAN LRVs.  I was lucky in Vienna to have two hours filming in Schwedenplatz, a tram transiting point, then in Rue Victor Hugo in Nice I saw a variety of Renault Agora low floor buses and a number of Volvo CNG Sunbuses which have a curious handle-shaped attachment over the body front. In Paris I saw a mixture of Renaults, rigid and articulated.

            During the Europe tour we learnt from our guide a new acronym, abc, (another bl***y cathedral), due to the tour organisers believing that these edifices were highly desirable viewing. For this tourist the first one or two were fine, after which, time was usually spent getting pictures. For example, in the UK, naturally we saw all the tourist sites and cathedrals and at Winchester when all the rest of the group were marvelling at the beauty of the local Cathedral, where was Gus?  Outside, filming a Stagecoach Dennis Dart with Plaxton bodywork, and others!  Our tour took us South and West to Land’s End and two overnights in Plymouth. From Plymouth we had a very interesting rail trip on the South Devon Railway, a heritage operation using Great Western locomotives and rolling stock, along the River Dart to Totnes and return to Buckfastleigh and yet another cathedral but there was also a preserved Devon General AEC Regent in splendid order. In the evening of this day, our tour took us to the small town of Princetown, service town for the infamous Dartmoor Prison, and hideaway of HRH Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. I had a pint of Jail ale and we were treated to probably the best fish and chips I remember, and entertained by a former prison officer called Jack who told us tales of old Dartmoor, hairy hands and ghosts!

            To Wales, bach, next and a night in Cardiff. After breakfast before the tour departed, I got some photos of the passing Bws Caerdydd (Cardiff Bus) Dennis Darts in their handsome dark green and off-white Plaxton bodies.


Belfast 795 Scania L94 4B/Wright

Belfast 795 Scania L94 4B/Wright

Stagecoach Dennis Dart 5-8-04

Stagecoach Dennis Dart/Plaxton in Winchester. (Gus should have been admiring the Cathedral at this point!) (Photos by the author.)


In Ireland the various fleets I saw were in good order and very tidy. The red and white Bus Eireann in Limerick with a variety of chassis, Mercedes Benz Citaro, Volvo B10M, and Wright bodied DAFs was a good example. Again, in Belfast, were a varied lot of chassis, Volvo Alexander double deckers, Leyland Leopard and perhaps inevitable Wright-bodied Scanias. The Wright-bodied vehicles appear to have gained considerable popularity in the whole of the United Kingdom. The operator in Dublin, Bus Átha Cliath (Dublin Bus), as viewed in the famous O’Connell Street, appeared to have a preference for Volvo chassis, many with Alexander bodies, and some newer Volvo artics with Wright Fusion bodies. These buses were in two liveries, a white and blue which seemed to be an old livery being replaced by a dark blue and yellow strip. A bonus in Dublin for this tram nut was to secure a photo of a passing Luas Alstom Citadis three section LRV on test, prior to the new light rail system opening. (More coming in Part 7.)


            OBSERVATIONS…Thanks to Michael Berry, Earle Howe, Graeme Inwood,, Peter King,, Allan Neilson, Ian Robertson,  Nick Stoneman , Peter Thompson  (Owing to trolley overload at this time, much contributed  material has not been used. It does not mean it won’t be!! Ed.)  

            AUCKLAND            NZ Bus – Peter Thompson sends details of new Scania 3-axle buses at Roskill Depot 2140 /ENA86, 2141/ENA91, 2142/EPN280, 2143/EPN258, 2144/EPN256, 2145/EPN272, 2146/EPN257, 2147/EQG692, 2148/EPN273, 2149/EQG695, 2150/ERA229, 2151/EUJ376, 2152/EUJ378, 2153/EUJ385, 2154/EUJ386, 2155/EUJ390, 2156/EWE92, 2157/EWE91. All are in Metrolink blue and silver livery (illustrated in the Oct./Nov. 08 RS .)

Ritchies also have new 3-axle Scanias.

Belfast 795 Scania L94 4B/Wright

Above: The attractive Waka Pacific livery on MAN 2451 at Onehunga. (Photo: Peter Thompson)

                        Waiheke – Earle reports that  NZ Bus MAN SL202, 150 (ex Stagecoach ex WCCT) is now in the H & E yard at Botany. He suspects it is being used for backup to school runs while things are quiet on Waiheke during winter! He comments that some of these vehicles that have almost literally run all over the countryside would have some interesting stories to tell!

CHRISTCHURCHMichael notes that an item in the Nelson Mail reported that a bus in Christchurch has clocked up 1.2 millon kilometres since 1986 on its normal city routes.  It reports that this is the equivalent of travelling to the moon on three one-way journeys. Unfortunately, no details of the bus are provided.

                                               Nick reports that Christchurch will have some changes in which operator runs which routes when the changes kick in on the 2nd of November this year. The major winner out of a lot of the tenders was Leopard who have taken work off both Redbus and Christchurch Bus Services. Redbus lost a couple of routes and CBS lost quite a bit of work to both Leopard and Redbus. Leopard has won 8 Casebrook / Hoon Hay , 12 Northwood / Murray Aynsley  , 15 Bishopdale / Beckenham and the 18 St Albans / Huntsbury routes. Leopard have also been successful in keeping their existing routes which were also up for tender. these being the 21 , 24 and 35.The routes won by Redbus are 9 Wairakei , 11 Styx Mill / Westmorland , 14 Harewood / Dyers Pass , 16 Belfast , 20 Burnside / Barrington , 22 Redwood / Spreydon, 77 Kennedys Bush. Christchurch Bus Services have won 7 Halswell. The 7 contract is only for 7 months, until the 60 New Brighton and 70 Queenspark routes will come up for tender. It is widely known that the 70 Queenspark and 7 Halswell routes will be linked, meaning the 7 tender will come up again at the time the 70 is due and so will The Orbiter.   
This marks major change for Christchurch and means for the first time since 2000, Leopard will be buying more new buses - will it be to Designline or to Kiwi? There are few new through routes being created. Route numbers 8 and 20 are returning but 22 is not.

            HAWKES  BAY Nimons - Peter comments on having plenty of buses to play with, many due for sale, but the big loaders (photo below) are needed especially for some of his new school runs. They’re Class 4 3-axle 2005 Scania L94s, ex-Ritchies, with 51 seats and 70-plus loadings. They’re upgraded to 100 km, speed-limited and go well. Their details are in the May section of Fleet Notes on the Omnibus Society website.  

Nimon Scania L94s

Above: Nimon’s  Scania L94s, , destinations ready programmed by their new owner. (Photo: Peter King)

                PALMERSTON NORTHIan Robertson, whom we welcome as a correspondent has sent details of this city’s Tranzit bus fleet as well as an article on their new depot. There is more to come about Palmy…..!!

WELLINGTON – Go Wellington – Volvos – Ave atque vale (Hail and farewell….)

Volvos 248 261

Above: Photographed, by Allan Neilson in Darlington Rd., Miramar,on Friday 3 April, 2009,  are Volvos 248 and 261.