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M&MTB AEC Regal Mark IV No 624
This bus entered service with the M&MTB on 8 April 1957. It was the last delivered of an order for twenty-five buses. These vehicles were the first M&MTB buses with underfloor engines, enabling a body-style much more modern than the half-cab buses which comprised the remainder of the M&MTB fleet at that time.
The Mark IV buses were acquired for the new bus route to West Heidelberg, but the most notable use that these buses received was for transporting athletes to and from the Olympic Village during the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. However, 624 was the only one of these buses not to be used for this purpose, having been delivered too late to participate.
Originally these buses were to have a similar body design to the Adelaide buses using the same chassis, but the loss of a key industrial case by the M&MTB required two-man crews for buses with more than 32 seats. Hence the M&MTB Mark IV buses were shortened at the rear, seating 31 rather than the 40 of their Adelaide counterparts. This gave these buses a somewhat truncated appearance.
This modification had unfortunate consequences in that much of the weight of the bus was on the front wheels. The unbalanced weight distribution meant that the steering was very heavy, and furthermore the front wheels were prone to lock up under heavy braking. In extreme cases these buses were known to spin, which was rather disconcerting for both passengers and driver. They were easily the most evil-handling buses that the M&MTB ever operated, and were correspondingly unpopular with drivers especially as the heavy steering was not eased by power assistance.
Despite their mechanical reliability and robustness, a repeat order from the M&MTB was not to be forthcoming.
No 624 is on long-term loan to the TMSV from the Victorian State Government. The TMSV also owns its sister No 622.
Content copyright © Russell Jones 2001-5. Reproduced with permission.