MARCH, 2008

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

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


*PLEASE NOTE that the Editor’s email address has changed to: 



Subscriptions for 2008 are now due, and have been held at last year’s rates! Treasurer, Morris Moller, Ph. 477 9467, would welcome hearing from you, and can send you a Subscription Form if you need one. Alternatively, Secretary, Henry Brittain, Ph. 476 7278, can send you one. Subs are: $25.00 per year or $12.50 for non-earners.


            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, also. Please phone Henry Brittain, Ph. 476 7278, or Peter Rendall, Ph. 970 1405. 

            RECENT EVENTS… The Society recently hosted a tour party from The Albion Club, of Glasgow. We picked them up in town in AEC Reliance 322 and took them to Kilbirnie workshop. Then they had a trip in new trolley 332 to Seatoun followed by AEC 322 taking them to Karori Depot and then Leyland Leopard 462 taking them to the cable car.  

            FUTURE EVENTS…Movie Night, 5 July,2008, Old Time Cinema, Lyall Bay, $30 per person. This is always a popular occasion – remember we dine there, as well. Note the date in your diary – more details will follow. When these details, and other events, have been firmed up, they will appear in Running sheeT or in a special Running sheeT Extra

            Wahine Day, 10 April – Watch out for events on this day – things are being organised. Queens Wharf will have bus displays, from here buses will go to the WCC Seatoun ceremony at 11.15 returning by noon, and in the pm a trip will go to Pencarrow.



John Anthony Murphy

10 December 194321 January 2008

For what seems a very, very long time indeed, my interests in tram, bus and rail transport in New Zealand have been enlivened by the contributions – photographic, written and in preservation – of John Murphy. I am, I know, certainly not alone in being able to say this. I met John only during the last decade of his life when we both shared duties on the roster at the Kapiti Coast Electric Tramway where one of his last achievements, the re-invigoration of “Tramway Topics”, has been remarkable. He was fascinating to talk with, and he often surprised with his knowledge of many unexpected areas. He was also very generous with his knowledge. He will be much missed.

                                                                                                                        Mike Secker



Gus Weir’s World Tour of the U K

Part Four: Getting There!

            An essential part of a World Tour of the UK from New Zealand is getting there and, as more mature persons (to quote Mrs Featherstone*), in 2004 we opted to break our journey in two. The first part took us from Auckland to Perth, Western Australia, where we took a three-day break. As is our habit we used our usual sightseeing method of hopping on a bus to see where it went. This meant a number of rides on the unique DAB Silkeborg buses forming the ‘CAT’ (Central Area Transit) services.  These are two free services, the Red Cat and Blue Cat, which run in the CBD of Perth. The buses are low floor, rear-engined, a wheel on each corner square box bodied, air-conditioned vehicles, purpose-built for the task. The services are free and probably due to well-selected routes, are very well patronised, so much so that I noticed that standard larger vehicles sometimes ran the services.  In 2004 a new route, the Yellow Cat route was established, proving the services’ popularity.

Transperth Path Transit No 1707 Mercedes Benz

Transperth Path Transit No 1707 Mercedes Benz

CR2215L Volgren The forbidden photo Perth. (Photo: Gus Weir)


            An important facet of Perth public transport services is the rail network, run by fairly new Walkers ABB electric multiple units servicing four destinations. These ‘units’ depart from Perth, from one of the cleanest stations I have ever seen, all four services leaving at the same time. Rail services are popular and passenger numbers increase every year, so that the original Northern service to Joondalup has been extended north and a new Southern route has recently opened, with new trains introduced. In building the new routes much use has been made of the median strips of urban motorways to position the railway track. On one of our expeditions, we rode a bus to Morley Shopping Centre, a large shopping centre and bus interchange Northwest of the City. Here I spotted one of Transperth’s Path Transit’s new Volgren bodied Mercedes Benz CR225L buses and a photo was required. Whilst lining up and focusing my camera I was approached by a uniformed ‘gentleman’ saying. “You can’t take photos of buses here.” “Why not?” I replied. “It’s policy!” he said.  However I had pressed the shutter release before he spoke so the forbidden photo was taken. (See above photo. - Ed.) The “It’s policy” answer was the only reason I could get from this goon. It seemed so silly! The problems enthusiasts have! (Similar to the UK - Ed.)

            After the break in Perth, we flew to Singapore, arriving at 11:30pm on a humid 30° C evening. Fortunately air-conditioning enabled us to sleep properly. (*NB: Mrs Featherstone is a customer of Arkwright’s in the TV show Open all Hours who prefers more mature persons.)

[Regrettably, for space reasons, we’ll have to carry over the Singapore part of Gus’s article to the next issue. –Ed.]




1971 Mercedes-Benz O302, ex-Mount Cook Lines

1971 Mercedes-Benz O302, ex-Mount Cook Lines 31/EO3542, ex-Kapiti Charters, now XR1132 (Photo: Mike Secker)


The above splendid NZMB-bodied coach is in the right hands – it is owned by Kevin Tither, Head Mechanic at the Kapiti Depot of Mana Coach Services. It is a motor home but the conversion has been done with care so that its original handsome lines are retained. As well, the front four seating bays are as they used to be with the original blue seats, carpets and other trim in place. Rearward of them, cooking, washing, relaxing and dining facilities are carefully fitted into the space either side of the centre aisle as far as a central table at the rear. Various removable partitions are carefully fitted so that the attractive original windows and body profile remain, as does the original air conditioning. As for driving it – well, Kev actually entrusted it to your editor for a short drive. The positivity of the gear change, the large amount of torque available, the ride comfort and quietness put many much more modern vehicles to shame.

The Merc had a close ex-MCL O302 relative a few years ago working on the Kapiti Commuter service – it became Mana’s No. 59, also with EO-registration and was painted in the Mana purple coach livery. Still on the Coast, at Te Horo, is another ex-MCL O302 owned by Trevor Fitzgeorge of Kapiti 4 Seasons Tours. Thanks to Kevin for help with this necessarily brief article.

            Also enjoying an afterlife in Kapiti is a 1962/3 AEC Reliance Mk II with NZMB body, ex-WCT, registered TA7192 (originally in the EV series like the Society’s Mk. II, 374). It is neatly converted into a motor home and, though most windows have gone, still has the upright shape of the Mk II body with an AEC badge on the front. It is blue and white and has, this year, been parked at the southern end of Matai Road, Raumati South, also appearing in Renown Road. And….also often in Renown Road, is another motor home in green and cream, moulded swaging lines very visible. It is ex-NZRRS Bedford SB, registered EV6434. Also….EV6414, painted red, body lines also visible, is an internet hut in Franz Josef township, your Editor noted.  


          OBSERVATIONS…Thanks to Henry Brittain, Neil Brown, Earle Howe, Graeme Inwood, Morris Moller, Bryce Pender, Nick Stoneman, Andrew Surgenor, Alan Wickens


                 AUCKLAND – NZ Bus -Waiheke IslandEarle Howe sent me some time ago (they got lost in the house flood!) some details about Stagecoach buses here. There are four MAN 11.190s (501 – 504) with manual destination blinds, not their original equipment. He adds that there were also several Hinos and a Renault. The latter could be one of 290 – 293, ex-Wellington.

            At North Star and Go West new Scania K270 UB6 (See also Go Wellington notes.) are 2101, 2104/EFZ605 and 2124/EHH664 (this bus at Go West).   

             WELLINGTON – NZ Bus – As the Volvo trolleys grow fewer in number, some ex-Auckland 1600-series MAN SL200s have been pressed into service as follows (thanks to Nick Stoneman and Andrew Surgenor): At Go Wellington: 1627, 1630, 1633, 1641, 1642, 1643, 1650, 1652, 1654, 1655, 1682, 1685, 1686, 1687, 1688 [1654 and 1655 are training buses and lettered as such.]  At Valley Flyer: 1603, 1606, 1613, 1643.  It seems that, at present, no trolleybuses are returning to Karori Depot for over-night parking. A recent casual in-town sampling by your Editor, while having a coffee in a corner café at Courtenay Pl. between 1.40 and 2.15 pm on Thurs. 6 March, produced passing trolleys 204, 206, 207, 209, 210, 227, 235, 242, 244, 246, 250, 254, 258, 259, 261, 265, 268…and….302!

            New 3-axle trolleys 331/EEG61 and 332/EEG63 were launched on the 20 Dec., 2007. Trolley 333 is also in Wellington, painted in yellow and black. Similar 334 has arrived, too.Talk has suggested recently that 331 and 332 had been temporarily returned to Ashburton for attention to their rear axles. However, on Tues. 11 March, while driving a Kapiti Commuter bus, I did see 331 in service.

Alan reported on the launch of 331 and 332 in a Yahoo group. Here are some of his observations:

            Just before 9am, Wellington's newest two trolley buses, led by 331, emerged from the Karori tunnel, poles down and running on battery power. (Grant Wild had the honour of driving 332). The brightly coloured pair then turned left into Waiapu Road and terminated at the Karori Sanctuary. Earlier that morning the Omnibus Society's 119 (ex-W.C.T. BUT – Ed.) had been towed into position at the carpark to take part in the formal launch of the new approximately $500,000 trolleys. Its presence gave a nice "past and present" feel to the event, together with the pictorial displays alongside.

Designline Trolleybuses 331 and 332
Designline Trolleybus 332 emerging from Karori Tunnel

Top: 331(left) and 332(right) –“ two buses that all concerned can be extremely proud of ”. Bottom: 332, poles down, exits Karori Tunnel to reach Karori Wildlife Reserve under battery power. Its destination reads “Catch a Trolley                                    Bus  50 LESS CARS ON THE ROAD”.  (Photos: Alan Wickens)


The majority of the invited guests arrived via public transport in the shape of 630, 2482 and 2445, the latter pair being the aptly liveried Sanctuary branded vehicles. Formalities began at 10.30am and speakers included NZ Bus, Regional Council representatives and the Minister of Transport, Annette King. Also present were MPs Marion Hobbs, Peter Dunn and Sue Kedgley. Naturally there was plenty to be said about the clean, green image of the new buses. Speeches over, the buses were available for inspection. TV3 were present to cover the event. Sadly at the close it was observed that despite all the talk we hear of "saving the planet" and the need to use public transport, three of the four MPs were noted driving off in separate cars, the fourth waiting at the roadside, so possibly also waiting for a pick up.

However, that aside, a pleasant morning with dry conditions and two buses that all concerned can be extremely proud of. 331 is vinyled with a bluey/green paua shell design with 332 in a green fern leaf finish, to my eye the nicer and classier of the two.
Destination panels flashed a round of "Catch a Trolley Bus (50 less cars on the road)", "Wellington's newest Trolley Bus", "Reduce Emissions", and "Keen to be Green". It is not expected these messages will be shown  in service ( how will people know where the bus is going!)

Morris noted that these first two trolleys appear on their licence labels as “DSL City Bus Trolley”.

Incidentally, noted on the new buses and many others are the chrome wheel covers – quite a few are not standing up to operating conditions as they’ve either disappeared or have suffered damage.

            While the new trolleybuses have grabbed the headlines, new diesels have been arriving at NZ Bus, creating a new class, the 2100s. These are Designline 3-axle SLF buses, B49DA, and are Scania K270 UB6. At Go Wellington the first is 2111/EFZ603, followed by 2112/EGR121 and 2113/EGR133. I have briefly seen 2114 and 2116/EJC612, with up to 2120 expected, 2117/EJC611 and 2118/EJC615 being imminent.(See also Auckland notes.) Other photos are on the Society website in Fleet Notes – note redesigned rear.

Scania 2111

Here is brand-new Scania 2111, at Kilbirnie. Note the chrome name badge with Scania’s  logo on the black apron under the windscreen. There is also a Scania badge on the rear engine cover. (Photo: Bryce Pender)

And now, on a sadder note…..

MAN 2460 on rocks

Things go wrong in the best-run fleets – MAN 2460/CRJ107 being very quickly retrieved from its attempt to go swimming in eastern Lyall Bay in mid-December, 2007. It was commendably quickly repaired and was back on the road very soon, Graeme reports. (Photo: Graeme Inwood)


Runciman Motors begins to look more like a smaller independent company with its adoption of what looks like a version of one of its earlier liveries of white and green. It is, as far as I know, still part of NZ Bus! Morris records that they have received from Stagecoach/NZ Bus 94/ME9078, ex-Howick & Eastern 56, 95/MO1289, ex-H & E 44, and 96/MO1290, ex-H & E 31. All are Hino BX341, B51D, CWI (Hawke) Hunter, 94 being 1985 and the others 1986.

Ex-Wellington Tramways/City Transport Leyland Tiger half-cab 251 (originally 51) has been recovered from Duncan Terrace, Kilbirnie, by Wayne Little and is being restored at Rongotai. Also, the ex-London RT double decker from Ian Little’s collection at Foxton is being restored at Kilbirnie Workshops by Wayne Little. Apparently it is ex-London Country so will probably be repainted in the appropriate green, not red.       

            Mana Coach Services – In December last year the big news was Souter Holdings’ purchase of MCS. Brian Souter is Chief Executive of Stagecoach and a major shareholder in the group, but this does not mean that Stagecoach has bought MCS. SH has acquired Bancorp’s 74% share of MCS, with 26% remaining with Infratil who acquired it through their purchase of  the former NZ Stagecoach operations. Bancorp paid the Waddell family about 8 million pounds (reports BUSES magazine) for their shareholding after Infratil were refused permission to acquire the whole company and lost its appeal against this in November, 2007. Bancorp was approached by Mr.Souter three or four weeks before concluding the deal in December, 2007.

                                                - Porirua – a 1999 Volvo B12 coach 122/YR6207, automatic, tag-axle, 2-door, 54 seat, has been added to the fleet. It is ex-Ritchies 254.

                                                - Kapiti – Toyota  Coaster 44/BLW986 has replaced similar 45/CZE242 which is back at Porirua. The former is 21-seat with a drinks fridge, the latter 22-seat without the fridge. A recent charter, involving your Editor, for transporting visiting Japanese secondary students from Wellington Airport, used six MCS/NCS vehicles and a trailer, thus more than filling the Airport coach spaces, except the stop for the Flyer! Vehicles were: MAN 26, Toyota 44 (with trailer T59), Isuzu 54, Volvo 55, Hino 139 (Editor’s steed), Hino 143.        

            Shuttles – Neil Brown sent this in January: Wellington Combined Taxis bought the holdings of G.McCarthy and P.Bell, principal owners of Co-op Shuttles. Combined will keep the Co-op brand going but it may disappear owing to Combined’s higher presentation and service standards. Co-op (Wellington) have about 35 minibuses and Supershuttle has 15 operators. As Neil says, the shuttle minibus scene constantly changes. (Shuttle news is welcome in RS. – Ed.)


            MODEL REVIEW… thanks to Bryce Pender for this review and photo,  and to David Jones for alerting me to the existence of this interesting model.

Bryce writes: Recently I took delivery of the new Trax model of the Ansair Flxible Clipper. After taking a good look over this model I have been quite impressed with the efforts put in by Trax to produce a model of a bus which has a large fan base but numbered few operating vehicles. This  reminds me of the former Corgi Leyland GNU and also Corgi’s AEC Q type buses – thousands of models produced but few full-sized buses delivered.

Trax Newmans Ansair

            Overall the model appears to be of good proportions, other than sitting quite high, leaving what I believe to be excessive space around the wheel arches. Graphics are of high quality especially the rendition of the famous Newman’s Flying Horse. Such items as the number plates and destination signs are well printed and very easy to read, even if normal NZ plates are reasonably hard to reproduce. This is the 3rd release of Trax’s Ansair Flxible casting within a short time and is a very pleasant release and addition to my growing collection of 1/76th and 1/24th scale models. As to it being a close and accurate model I am not sure but it certainly is great to see New Zealand buses being released. I hope that it will be the first of many to come and that it finds its way into the collections of many local fans. 

            Hopefully in the near future one of those familiar with the buses will find time to complete a report on their history in NZ. [Anyone out there care to do an article for RS? - Ed.]


Editor:  Mike Secker, 63 Glen Road, Raumati South, Kapiti  5032.  Ph: (04) 902 1173   Fax: (04) 902 1174 

Mob: 027 426 7901  Email:

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