Buses, either complement or are the nemesis of tramway operations, but they are a reality. They offer flexible route alternatives without the pork barreling and/or the expense of infrastructure in implementing a tramway.
Victoria Street now has on its roster ( or streets), six buses of four differing types and vintages.
All buses in the collection are all 1/76 (OO) scale made or offered by mobs such as EFE, Trux, or Oxford, then a maybe a combination of all of the above.
First cab (bus) of the rank is....
The Austerity bus.
Loosely based on the unit that featured a timber body that was pressed ganged into service during the darkest days of WW2 before the tramway was extended from the then terminus, Maribrynong River to the government cordite/explosives factory further west over the river. Most services 'gunned it' from Footscray railway station with the headboard coded with 'Special E'.
Now it's on an enthusiast's excursion.
I have three of these units in service, these entered service when the MMTB was in the process of rehabilitating the age expired cable tramway network with electric tramways or as a replacement entirely
These sort of buses extended the range of the then electric tramway network without the necessary outlay required for rails and overhead, yet provide a glimmer of hope in future, given patronage, of the option of expansion of tramway services.
In most cases, these replaced late night and/or weekend services on some tram routes. Then on some cross suburban routes led to the demise of local tramways completely.
I have also changed the headboards to reflect west suburban destinations.
The third phase.
The Leyland National.
An EFE/Trux production.
What happens when successive state governments offer a rail link to the city, yet do nothing, bustitute.
The citizens of suburban Doncaster, north east of Melbourne, have for as long as has been recalled, have been promised a heavy railway line into the city, to this day this has not happened.
Some Melbourne suburban rollingstock even had Doncaster East as a destination on the headboard roll in anticipation, but alas these units have retired from service and will never arrive.
Another case of promises,promises.
Enter the mid to late 70's, tangerine is still somewhat a fashionable colour and as long the sun still shines, rail is not heading out to Doncaster soon.
Behold the Leyland national, barreling down the Eastern Fwy, to the city, in its own designated lane at 80km/h.
These buses apparently due to their modular construction, led to handling and ongoing maintenance issues that in the end resulted the exclusive use on 'slow' suburban runs.
While the run number features 'D' from the Doncaster depot the headboard has been altered for a Footscray depot run.
Going long haul, the Denning Mono Coach.
A Trux model.
Introduced in the early '80s, these coaches filled the void by the closure of lesser country rail services, they also provided a rather cheap (and somewhat long and nasty) interstate transport between the state capitals as an option when airfares at the time compared to today were incredibly expensive.
The other use for these coaches were charter services such as school excursions, country race meetings and at the the time, the rather lucrative border raids from Melbourne to the Murray River towns of New South Wales with 'sports' clubs that housed poker/fruit/slot machines. This caper ended when these horrid machines were introduced into Victoria by a state government who was at the time going a bit scruffy for revenue.
This model in AAT livery is relevant as AAT at this time had their Melbourne depot in the inner western suburb of Spotswood.
The nightmare scenario on Victoria Street.
As in the past tram depots have evolved into bus depots, for a variety of reasons such as the tramway has become redundant or the depot has become too small for larger trams and/or an expended fleet.
The former Footscray tram depot in Buckley St, went from a four road yard and shed housing a collection of four wheel single truck trams to an extensive bus depot covering an entire block.
Under the wires on its last day of trams
After the closure of the local lines.
(Photo courtesy Trams Downunder)
The wheels of progress have turned again, recently the bus operator moved from Footscray to a new and larger greenfield site further out west, resulting in the Footscray site being sold off for a development featuring apartments and a retail section.
Not under the wires but amongst the diesel fumes and oil leaks on the tarmac.