In 1968 the New South Wales Department of Government
Transport ordered 200 Leyland Atlantean double deck buses with bodies to be supplied by
Leyland Australia subsidiary, Pressed Metal Corporation of Revesby. These were the first
double deckers after many years of standardisation on single deck vehicles and were also
to be the last double deckers in normal service with an Australian Government operator.
The buses were delivered from
May 1970 through to 1972, and 24 of a follow up order for a further 100 buses came in
1973. However industrial unrest over one person operation and a perceived history of
unreliability caused this second order to be reduced in favour of single deck Leopards.
The 224 buses were numbered
1001 to 1224 in the Sydney fleet and were registered M/O 1001-1224 (M over O). Initial
allocation was to Northern depots Brookvale (V), Mona Vale (F) and Willoughby (M),
followed by Eastern Suburbs depots Waverley (W), Randwick (R) and Pagewood (P). There was
also a brief allocation to Ryde (Y) and its subsidiary Leichhardt (L) from 1977.
Disenchantment with the
Atlanteans saw the fleet considerably reduced by the early '80s, and final operation was
on limited stop express services 188, 189 and 190 between the Northern Beaches and
Wynyard, where the buses could operate without a conductor. They finally bowed out on 16
May 1986, when they were replaced by the Mercedes "Bendibuses", which still
operate the Northern Beaches expresses today. (Note that Mona Vale's 190 Palm Beach route
is included in the Little Bus set of Sydney transfers).
Apart from a few buses in all
over advertising livery, colours in service in Sydney were Mandarin Blue side panels and
Riviera White round the windows and roof, which are best represented by Humbrol paints 48
Mediterranean Blue and 41 Ivory. (very similar to Southend for English modellers).
Mudguards and bumpers were gloss black and the dividing lines between the blue and ivory
was very dark blue Fleet numbers over the rear wheel arches were gold outlined in black.
Interior colours were mid blue seats (suggest Humbrol 25) Mandarin Blue side panels and
very light blue (Antarctic White) ceilings. round the windows and inside the staircase.
Floors were matt grey. In Greg Travers's book on Sydney buses he suggests that the cab
interior was originally matt dark brown, to differentiate from the Mark II Leopards, where
the cab interior was matt navy blue.
The end of government service
in Sydney was not, however, the end for the Sydneyside Atlanteans. BHP acquired a large
fleet for internal transport at the Port Kembla Steelworks and many found further use as
school buses throughout Australia. They were also popular for tourist work and many were
decapitated as open toppers. Nor was this the end for Government operation, as 1169 went
'troppo' and operated for a number of years in an all over advertising livery on the
Tropic of Capricorn for Rockhampton City Council. Many are still in use today - a recent
visit to Perth in June 2004 revealed an Arnotts' bus in school service with a load of
hockey players, on the Mitchell Freeway and two tourist buses stabled near Cannington.
Fortunately for Sydneysiders
(and also for visiting Bradfordians) three of the Sydney Atlanteans, 1003, 1071 and 1224,
are maintained by the Historic Commercial Vehicle Association at Tempe and appear on
special occasions, including the annual Australia Day running day through the streets of
Sydney. A ride with Tony Asquith on 1071 on Australia Day 2004 was the inspiration for
Acknowledgment is made to the
HCVA for the opportunity to photograph, measure and, most importantly, to enjoy a ride on
its fleet of Sydneyside Atlanteans. Happy modelling. Tony Swift, Kirribilli NSW, January
For all Australian kits
enquiries please contact;
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