Sydney’s Transport History – The First Government Bus

The continuous 85 years that the State government has run bus services wasn’t actually the first time that Government had run bus services. Back in 1905, the Government Railway Commissioners began a motor omnibus service.

The Government Motor Omnibus Act, 1905, allowed the Railway Commissioner the power to construct, purchase or lease motor omnibuses and operate them on routes as approved by the governor. Orders were placed for four steam buses for Clarkson Ltd, of Chelmsford, England and were bodied by Angus & Son in Newtown. This practise of importing Chassis and locally building bodies continues with the government bus services today.

The first two buses, 18 passenger single deck 1M and 2M inaugurated government bus services in Sydney on 4 December 1905. They operated between Potts Point and Taylor Square on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst, a distance of just under 2 kilometres. One bus would operate the service whilst the other would act as a standby in case of a breakdown. High costs coupled with low revenue saw the service ceased by 7 April 1906.

IMG_2298
Bus 1M that operated the first government bus service in Sydney between Potts Point and Darlinghurst on 4 December 1905

On 23 April 1906,  double deckers 3M and 4M began their short lived life operating a 2.5 kilometre route between Dulwich Hill and Enmore. These busses were even more short lived than the original route, dealings service on 29 May 1906 due to the unsuitability of the chassis to the type of work.

IMG_2296
Bus 4M, one of two original double decker buses used between Dulwich Hill and Enmore in April and May 1906.

After racking up losses of more than £6600 over just six months of operation, the buses were scraped at Randwick Workshops. This left the Railway commissioner to focus on Tramway and Railway operation and the bus network to a myriad of private operator for the next 26 years.

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