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M&MTB AEC Regal Mark VI No 759
This bus entered service with the M&MTB on 22 April 1965. It was one of an order for one hundred buses acquired for the new routes operating out of Doncaster Bus Depot. These vehicles were the most technically advanced buses in use in Australia at the time of their introduction. Their box-like appearance and their complex electrical control systems led them to be known by M&MTB staff as Magic Boxes.
Like the previous AEC Regal Mark IV buses, they had a truncated appearance due to the limited seating capacity forced by the Arbitration Commission ruling that buses with more than 32 seats must have two-man crews.
The Mark VI buses were very popular with drivers, due to their excellent performance and handling and their power steering. The body design was an example of circulation loading passenger entry being by the front door, fare collection by the driver, and passenger exit by the rear door. This basic body design originated with the Peter Witt trolley cars in Cleveland in 1915. The Y and Y1 class trams were the first use of this basic principle in Melbourne.
The rear door was unusual in that it was not power opening, but instead the driver electrically unlocked it, and exiting passengers had to push the door open. This was possibly the only real shortcoming of this design, apart from the low seating capacity.
In later years the ability to use the gearbox in automatic mode was removed, due to problems with supply of spare parts. This was as the result of consolidation of motor manufacturers including AEC under British Leyland, and the subsequent financial disaster that hit the company and virtually destroyed the British motor industry.
However, these buses had a long and successful service life, the last few being brought back into service for a short period in the 1990s to run routes out of the former Elwood tram depot. This was as the result of the acquisition by the government of the Melbourne-Brighton Bus Company, which had allowed its bus fleet to become seriously run-down and was encountering severe industrial problems, resulting in the owners walking away from the business.
No 759 is owned by the TMSV, while its sister No 776 is on loan from the Victorian State Government.
Content copyright © Russell Jones 2001-5. Reproduced with permission.