US Buses in Australia

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Looselion
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US Buses in Australia

Post by Looselion »

I recently came across a PDF, apparently uploaded to the Ansair Flxible Clipper Club website, entitled "US Buses in Australia" by a Timothy S Williams. This document appears to have been copied from elsewhere by the poster and then converted to PDF format, the end result in this case being a rather hard to read two part story about the introduction and operation by Ansett Pioneer of their imported fleet of various GM's and MCI's, beginning in the early 1960's.
This started out as a good read, with plenty of detail and info about the subject matter, as well as a number of relevant photos. However the author, whoever he is, lost his way, not to mention his integrity, in part 2 when he began to describe his interpretation (revision) of the early history of the Aussie interstate coach industry. This person quite clearly has no idea as to the reality of the fledgling post war years of the wonderful Australian road passenger industry, and completely ignores the fact that Reg Ansett and his Pioneer operation were hounded all the way by Rex Law's Redline, in both tours and express operations.
I haven't gone around in this forum or elsewhere blabbing about how Ansett made at least one attempt to buy Rex out, neither have I made too much of the repeated attempts by his Pioneer general manager to brow-beat Rex into collusional fare arrangements, whereby Redline would raise fares in order for Pioneer to do the same. Rex always went along to such meeting invites (one of which I personally attended with him in a motel room in Melbourne) and the outcomes weren't always cordial when the Pioneer 'boys' found their approaches again falling upon dis-interested ears!
I wonder if Mr Williams considers this to be the actions of a company enjoying the luxury of little or no competition? He is also completely oblivious to the fact that Redline's route network was at least the equal of Pioneer's and that Redline had been trail blazers on more than one express and tour route, the Brisbane - Melbourne direct Newell Hwy express service being one that springs to mind.
He perhaps could have done sufficient research to identify the fact that Rex Law's Redline patronized local coach-builders rather than provide employment to American tradesmen. And that the A B Denning & Co he refers to may not have existed without Rex's stalwart support of a young Alan Denning with a string of follow up Redline orders for Denning's first ever rear-engined coach design, with progress cash payments along the way to further assist his establishment.
I could go on, maybe Mr Williams should also take note that the only two interstate coach companies ever to operate expansive national express and touring operations simultaneously - throughout the entire history of the industry, to this day - were Pioneer and Redline!
Or that Greyhound had once before, in the early 1960's, made a move to compete on the interstate express stage, along with the likes of Holman's 'Gold Coast Scenic Clippers' and couldn't make it against Redline and Pioneer. The main reason 'Greyhound established themselves,' at their second attempt, was by fortuitously filling the very considerable void in the marketplace created by the exit of Redline in the late '60's.
And just for the record, and Mr Williams' enlightenment, in contrast to his description of Greyhound's arrangements, Redline NEVER operated under any so-called 'pool arrangements' or 'franchise deals'.....
Here's Part 1:

http://flxibleclipperclub.com.au/wp/wp- ... Part-1.pdf

Here's part 2 below, in which he states:
"...with regard to long-distance coaches. In this field Pioneer has always set the standard. During the 1950's other operators either had buses built locally in imitation of Pioneer's Flxibles or else stayed with front-engined chassis.' Those that attempted to build up nationwide route networks all failed, (????????) because of either a lack of capital or an inadequate bus (or both). In the late 1960's Greyhound established itself as a serious competitor (to Pioneer) on a national scale by expanding its route network to reach most of the important cities in Australia, either by making pool arrangements or by a kind of franchising.
At that time Greyhound (no relation to the US company) persuaded A B Denning & Co to build a bus that would be the equal of the 4106 and 4107. The result is the so-called Denning-GM, the most successful inter-city bus built in Australia and the country's only standard production-line bus for over-the-road work......"

http://flxibleclipperclub.com.au/wp/wp- ... Part-2.pdf
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by Looselion »

I should have pointed out that the PDF article I have taken issue with above was obviously written by the learned Mr Williams very likely at some point in the 1970's.
That being said, no matter how long ago a piece of historical material is put before the public, nor how old the subject matter, I for one will not accept that any such information that is clearly inaccurate or biased should be allowed to go unchallenged and uncorrected.
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by Tim Williams »

What a magnificent series comments made - pity some are not factual!

These pdf's are copied from an article I wrote many many years ago for Motor Coach Age (USA) and you or your society should have acknowledged that publication (of the Motor Bus Society). I stand by the comments that, at the time of writing Greyhound were the only serious competitor to Ansett Pioneer on a national basis - I knew nothing of the "politics" which may or may not be factual.

One other point of which I am sure is that, like it or not, Pioneer certainly set the standard in many ways that other operators large and small tried to emulate in all areas - vehicle, maintenance and operating standards etc. I still believe the Denning GM Mono was a result of Russell Penfold/Greyhound attempting get a vehicle of a standard to effectively compete with the PD4106/7's, which in their day, were in a league of their own. Later of course Pioneer went for the Canadian MCI's and Greyhound the Silver Eagles - both top vehicles.

I notice that the gentleman, who criticises my article is a Redline fan - well they were a bit of a disaster. If I remember correctly they operated many Albion Vikings with mostly Denning body and even some Lewis Bros bodies. The Viking was a fairly underpowered affair, operating on leaf springs, pretty crude compared to the US built equipment at that time. Additionally, Redline did not have the best safety record; there were a few serious accidents etc., which may have sealed their fate.

That was all, as said, many years ago before low cost airlines came to this country and virtually destroyed long distance express bus services!
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by Looselion »

Thank you so much for responding to my comments about your article on GM buses in Australia.
Your comments above have only cemented my impression that you're incredibly one-eyed and oblivious to the indelible history of a wonderfully proud Australian industry.
Just so there's no further confusion in your mind, I'm the younger son of Rex Law, the gentleman behind the business known as Redline Coaches. I made my identity known to readers of this forum from day 1.
Just so you don't get further confused, let me state right here that I have no intention of wasting my time by entering into some sort of debate with you regarding the 'worthiness' of Redline in comparison with other Australian interstate coach companies of your choosing.
You see I have no idea what authoratative credentials, if any, you bring to the table in order to support your extraordinarily shallow assessment of this industry. Perhaps the hundreds of loyal staff members who enjoyed employment with the Redline company for up to a quarter of a century would be better qualified? Or maybe the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the disabled children who benefited greatly from Rex Law's charitable efforts over many years? Or a number of people he simply tried to give a helping hand to, like the Swiss wannabe coachbuilder named Bratter who Rex tried to support but ended up losing thousands, or the success story of Alan Denning to whom Rex provided great support that was coming from nowhere else at that touch and go point in Alan's career. Or the one million plus wonderfully happy new and repeat Redline passengers / tourists Or....very much more to the point here, how about all the Pioneer customers over many years who unknowingly benefited directly in their hip pockets from Rex Law's well acknowledged integrity? If you purport to be qualified to stand in judgement about the superiority of Pioneer's operations over that of an enterprise you don't even acknowledge, then you should be well aware that their General Manager more than once, no doubt on Reg Ansett's say so, came cap in hand to Rex Law with the self-serving aim to persuade him to collude in a fares manipulation agreement whereby Redline would increase its fares so that Pioneer could do the same! Sir, if you aren't prepared to acknowledge Redline's strength of influence in the industry then the Pioneer folks on the ground at the time certainly did!!
I won't waste time commenting on your comparison of the equipment operated by one carrier as against the other, save to say that Rex Law did brilliant things with the hand he was dealt. Maybe one day you'll understand this man was a fighter and a survivor, beginning at 7 years of age when he tragically lost his 30 year old father, leading to his having to drop out of school at age 12 years to assist his mother raise his younger siblings, just as the Great Depression took hold.. It was right around that time that a rather more privileged Reg Ansett had just gained his pilot license....
I have saved this comment for last....
What a low act it is to invoke the unfortunate spectre of coach accidents and the death and injury of patrons of the industry in order to try and make a very sad and sick point.
Because you have elected to raise this as an issue, may I remind you that no operator was, or is, or ever will be immune from highway accidents. And my dear sir, neither was your immortal Pioneer....!!!
Their record in fact was worse than Redline's in virtually every respect, but who wants to count these kinds of statistics?.....maybe just you!
Take a look at the following if you need a reminder, and should you require lots more convincing, just post a request and I'll give you lots more, including many many more press stories from over the years.
With my apologies to other board readers who like myself don't invoke death, pain and suffering as a debating point. But I hope you will allow me to defend Rex Law's good name on this occasion in the only way I know how against this kind of low 'criticizm.'
Attachments
Pioneer_Accidents_6 (800 x 549).jpg.jpg
Pioneer_Accidents_6 (800 x 549).jpg.jpg (128.33 KiB) Viewed 6958 times
Pioneer Accident 5 (800 x 630).jpg.jpg
Pioneer Accident 5 (800 x 630).jpg.jpg (164.08 KiB) Viewed 6876 times
Pioneer Accident 4 (800 x 600).jpg.jpg
Pioneer Accident 4 (800 x 600).jpg.jpg (137.76 KiB) Viewed 6876 times
Pioneer Accident 3 (586 x 460).jpg.jpg
Pioneer Accident 3 (586 x 460).jpg.jpg (65.46 KiB) Viewed 6958 times
Pioneer Accident 2 (800 x 622).jpg.jpg
Pioneer Accident 2 (800 x 622).jpg.jpg (154.33 KiB) Viewed 6957 times
Pioneer Accident 1 (800 x 526).jpg.jpg
Pioneer Accident 1 (800 x 526).jpg.jpg (137.52 KiB) Viewed 6958 times
Last edited by Looselion on Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by Bedford-29 »

I`ll chuck a picture of a Pioneer coach accident.Picture from the Ken Magor collection.
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PIONEER ACCIDENT
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by Andrew »

Looks like the same crash as in Glenn's "Pioneer Accident 3".
.
Job done.
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by Tim Williams »

I did not wish this to be a personal exchange but yes, I did expect the emotional reply that you have posted, especially noting your "Redline heritage"

Now let me advise the purpose and timing of my article and then perhaps you may realise that your comments are really way off the mark.

As I have previously stated, my article was written for Motor Coach Age and appeared in the September 1976 issue. It was written specifically about American buses in Australia, published in America, primary for American readers. In no way was it intended to be a history of Australian express coach operation. When it was written, if I remember correctly, Pioneer's only real national competition was Greyhound - I was tasked to go through and write about the history of American coaches here, not a full Australian history, which would not have been of interest to American bus fans at that time (things are a little less insular now!). My interests are not focused on US built coaches, but at that time their equipment was well ahead of anything else here in the long distance coach field. Distances and climatic conditions were somewhat similar in the USA to here and if we are going to honest UK sourced equipment struggled on long distance express services and I am from the UK, not the USA!!

Things have changed in the equipment era since then, it's all Volvo's, Mercedes, Scanias etc now and they are very good and I think our body builders are now producing first class equipment, but not then. It is interesting to observe that MCI seem to have got stuck in a styling time warp, with their current output still showing a strong family resemblance to the MC9's that Pioneer operated. I think our current body builders have gone more towards European styling and the coaches look the better for it.

I stand by my comments that it took the introduction of the Denning GM to effectively compete with PD4106/7's - Albion Vikings, underpowered and crude as they were, were a totally unsuitable vehicle for long distance express work to compete with the PD4106/7's. Redline were out of the picture and were of no relevance in my article and I think you would have to agree that what ever the circumstances, the bad accidents sapped public confidence in Redline, sad though it would have been to all who worked for the company.

So you are getting all excited for nothing - again look at the purpose of the article!
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by Looselion »

I well understood the theme of your article and I fully understand and accept that you weren't writing a broad history of the Australian industry.
However you let yourself and your readers down with this one statement clearly referring to the non-US sourced bus operators of the 1950's and '60's:
"Those that attempted to build up nationwide route networks all failed, because of either a lack of capital or an inadequate bus (or both)."
I am simply saying (and I'm now black in the face) that if you were prepared to analyze our industry's history sufficiently to offer such a statement, would it do your integrity any harm if you were to ensure it's historical accuracy?
Had you stated, say...."the fact that just one tenacious operator, Redline, managed to compete effectively against Pioneer's US sourced buses on the national stage throughout most of the 1950's and '60's says more about the quality of their management than that of their inferior non-US sourced vehicles."
Hey, you wouldn't have re-written history and would have included true facts relevant to the story line, and the superiority of the US equipment (which none of us at Redline ever doubted) would not have been called into question....!
I hope you will finally understand, no matter what the title or point of your article, when you present information to your readers, not to mention those to whom the information refers, they are entitled to believe they're getting the facts....otherwise it's far better to leave the statement out...!!!
And old mate, I'm not 'excited' ....just very disappointed.
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by Tim Williams »

Thanks for your comments - I have no doubt that your father would have worked passionately in/with the company. Long distance express services would be as difficult as it gets.

But I must say that I really loved those PD4106/7s and thought Reg Ansett was a man of insight and vision but I saw a TV program about him a couple of years ago, where it seems he was not the great hero we all thought he was and that he treated some of his children really badly - a broken marriage etc., so I can imagine his business dealings might not have been 100% upfront and friendly.

My comments were purely about the coaches, not the man - God knows what he was really like!!

I still have a couple of Redline timetables in my possession, and I do not wish to put down their name - buses are hard work, I am still involved with them.

Perhaps one day we can meet and go over some of this history. I have worked with some infamous characters in the industry - stuff I would not dare put on this site, but absolutely fascinating.

Hopefully, one day we can meet and talk about some of this marvellous history.
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by Looselion »

You're right about the hard work, and the 24/7/52 stress levels of knowing that at any one time of the day or night there are many hundreds of passengers out there relying on you.....it's soul destroying when very rarely in the scheme of things one realizes one has let just one of them down.
I'm writing a book about the unique Rex Law / Redline story and I hope you'll get a chance to read it eventually.
And yes, apparently Reg was a one of a kind in his own particular way. I met Bob Ansett at a tourism convention in the mid '60's at the Chevron Gold Coast. Nice man.
I look forward to the possibility of meeting you also, and exchanging those anecdotes.....
I wish you the very best Tim.
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by dominodc122 »

...I wonder if I may make a suggestion? ...

As an ex Ansett Pioneer Coach Captain...I would suggest that between both Looselion and Tim Williams...there is a wealth of knowledge and background on behalf of the both of you, that if you managed to bury the hatchet (preferable not in each others skulls :( ) that you could collaborate on getting the history factual and actually make a difference in how 'our'(the entire Australian Tour Coach industry) history will be remembered.

Elsewhere on this forum, the need for an accurate historical account has been requested that is begging for author/s to start putting pen to paper and getting it recorded for posterity...before it is bloody well lost forever!!!

So...I challenge you both to lay down your guns, missles, verbage...and be proactive in getting the ball rolling in a positive and collaborative manner...for the benefit of those of us who lack the talent or willpower to undertake this noble task !!!

PS...We are waiting!
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by alan4106au »

After reading through and through these postings I feel that I would like to point out a few things that I feel really relevant to what was happening during the 1960’s in the coach building side of things. And to show that Governments move slowly.
I have to say that since the article in question was written in the 1970’s I think that it is quite accurate. I do have copy’s of the PDF’s.
Tim Williams has not gone into a lot of detail when referring to any of the buses mentioned in his notes. What was stated seems to be very accurate?
Had he wanted he could have mentioned that the Flxible Clippers built under licence here in Australia were possibly built to a higher standard than a lot of the American ones and this was due to the fact that in the days when they were being built here (Australia) was not able to import a lot of the materials and equipment we would have liked and were really restricted to a lot of English equipment and it was very difficult to bring any thing in from the USA. Most of the English equipment was heavy compared to the American equivalent.
It was a long time after World War 2 that all import restrictions were lifted and equipment and materials required were readily available.
The Clippers built by Ansair had mainly English running gear (Steering box and Kirkstal axles) along with Leyland engines to start with and due to the fact that the components sourced were manufactuared for truck use were heavier and possibly stronger than what was fitted to most Clippers built in America.
This was not by choice but through necessity.
The Americans would not like being told that we may have built a better clipper than them!
Some thing very relevant also is the fact that the Clippers were built as an integral Construction Coach (They had light chassis rails laid and the body was built directly to them (The next best thing to a monocoque). Just as a side note! In 1937 Yellow coach reduced the weight of the 719 Model by utilising aluminium and integral design by 2 tons. Weight is and will always be a problem!
Most of the Buses/ Coaches on the road in Australia in the sixties were very close to the allowable weight of the day when loaded and this was not easily rectified with the English equipment available back then. We had weight problems and/or the equipment (like brakes and axles) were a bit small for what we required.
Along with the fact that we had low horse power from the English engines for there weight. Good job the speed limits were lower than today’s!
It is fact that in its day Redline’s network was probably as good and in places better than Pioneer’s. Although no American buses?
The fact that Pioneer had imported coaches that were able to handle the weight and were built strong enough to more than do the job made all the difference.
I needs to be remembered that the PD4106 was a Monoque coach and most of the body was aluminium and this allowed for the main components to be substantial and strong enough to stand up to the job required. In there day nothing was as good as the GM built coaches.
It must be remembered though that I was a very expensive exercise.
The importation of the PD4106 coaches came at a time when pioneer were losing money on the running side of both the express and tour side of the operation. (May have been the reason Pioneer wanted to FIX the pricing?) and it was the efficiencies that were gained by running the 4106’s that set things back on track. It allowed for 38 passengers and a toilet on the express coaches and 45 pax on tour coaches as against only 29 pax in the clippers. More bums to pay the fuel bill!
It is a fact that the GM two strokes will run on power kero and an 80% diesel power kero mix was used by Pioneer and this was a huge saving in fuel cost for them.
It wasn’t providing employment to the American tradesmen. It was that we were not able to import the materials or satisfactory mechanical components that led to the full importation of the 4106’s.
I feel that in his day Rex Law did a fantastic job attempting to get around the size and weight restrictions he was against and with governments of the day not wanting to look towards any common sense answers to the problems we had, and had he been around only another three years it may have been a very different story.
Or had the Government of the day moved quicker.
In his day the equipment that was offered to Rex Law Redline for building and supplying new buses was all to heavy and underpowered along with reliability problems (if they were pushed hard consistently) that it was not viable.
I think that it was only that Rex Law may have understood the capabilities of the equipment used in the day and the fact that he treated his workforce with the respect that workers should be shown that Redline were as successful as they were.
I feel that the statements made in part 2 regarding the inadequate bus types and lack of capital may have been very relevant.
The fact remains that Redline didn’t have American Buses!
It was not a long time after the end of Red Line that the weight and dimensions were increased (along with speed) and had Rex Law been around to see that happen it may have been a different story.
And had Rex Law been able to import the Silver Eagles it would have been a different story completely.

Safe Motoring Alan
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by Mr Scania »

Although Redline did not operate American Buses, I get reminded on a daily basis of the 2 Strokes that they did run, (mainly 453s I think) and the Allison automatics.
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by alan4106au »

Mr Scania wrote:Although Redline did not operate American Buses, I get reminded on a daily basis of the 2 Strokes that they did run, (mainly 453s I think) and the Allison automatics.
Again the low horse power shows it face.
The Detroit diesels were low in weight for their power output!
I think that Redline may have had 3 71 series in the early days and 4 71’s as well.
The 4 53 engines were a little small and only produced about 105 HP and this would have to be considered a little low even in the sixties.
The 3 71 engine is about 3.5 litres - 213 cubic inches only and only produced about 113 HP from the early engines .
The 4 71 engine is about 4.7 litres – 284 cubic inches and it only produced 152 -160 HP with the big N65 injectors.
Not enough to push an 11. Ton coach down the roads we use.
And the automatic transmissions ate a lot of power as well.

The PD 4106 and PD 4107’s used the 8V 71 and they were able to run out from over 250 HP to 318 HP with the N series injectors.

This did give the GM’s a real advantage.
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by Tim Williams »

I have just re-read this topic again and to Mr Looselion, I would certainly love to buy the book on Redline, when available.
The long distance express bus market has really diminished, thanks to low airline fares and now of course Covid-19, makes me wonder where it is all going.

If anyone has an Ansett Pioneer full fleet list, I would really appreciate seeing it - thyanks!!
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by eddy »

How wide were they please?
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by boronia »

eddy wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:47 am How wide were they please?
What?
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by eddy »

boronia wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 12:49 pm
eddy wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:47 am How wide were they please?
What?
Were they more than 2.5m wide?
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by boronia »

eddy wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 2:27 pm
boronia wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 12:49 pm
What?
Were they more than 2.5m wide?
"They" is somewhat ambiguous considering several buses have been mentioned in this thread.
Which vehicles are you referring to? Any bus operated in Australia would not be wider than that.
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by tonyp »

Having spent my entire youth being transported around Sydney mostly on American chassis buses (and very nice they were too compared to the British chassis buses), I'm puzzled at the reference to import restrictions on American buses at the time. As far as I can see, they were freely available. Or is it bodies we're talking about?
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by eddy »

boronia wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 2:56 pm
eddy wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 2:27 pm

Were they more than 2.5m wide?
"They" is somewhat ambiguous considering several buses have been mentioned in this thread.
Which vehicles are you referring to? Any bus operated in Australia would not be wider than that.
I know US buses are wider than 2.5m and I wondered if the imported ones were allowed to be wider years ago
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by eddy »

tonyp wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 3:12 pm Having spent my entire youth being transported around Sydney mostly on American chassis buses (and very nice they were too compared to the British chassis buses), I'm puzzled at the reference to import restrictions on American buses at the time. As far as I can see, they were freely available. Or is it bodies we're talking about?
According to this https://wideloadshipping.com/maximum-wi ... x5pLZ4zbIU buses in America were only allowed to be 2.44m but were later allowed to be 2.6m which is too wide for Australia and I was just curious when US buses became illegal here.
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by system improver »

eddy wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:47 am How wide were they please?
96 inches (2.44 metres), the maximum width in Australia at the time both the PD4106 and PD 4107 were introduced. Later versions in the US were 102 inches wide (2.59m) which is the most popular width in the US these days for coaches. The current maximum width in Australia is 2.5m, whereas in Europe it is 2.55 metres.
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by eddy »

system improver wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 6:59 pm
eddy wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:47 am How wide were they please?
96 inches (2.44 metres), the maximum width in Australia at the time both the PD4106 and PD 4107 were introduced. Later versions in the US were 102 inches wide (2.59m) which is the most popular width in the US these days for coaches. The current maximum width in Australia is 2.5m, whereas in Europe it is 2.55 metres.

Thanks heaps mate :)
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Re: US Buses in Australia

Post by OLYMPIAN »

There are some ex US low floor buses in Sydney stored for filming purposes
Detroit 6VT92/ZF 4HP500...the best bendi bus power train!
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