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MTA Volvo B59 No 850
This bus entered service with the M&MTB on 30 May 1977, with the Victorian registration plate IUG850. It was the first of an order for fifty buses, later extended to a total of one hundred buses. These vehicles were the first M&MTB buses since the 1930s that were not constructed by either Leyland or AEC. They were initially used primarily on West Gate and Eastern Freeway services, but saw general use across all routes operated by the M&MTB.
The seating was limited to 32 places in order to avoid two-man crews, due to industrial rulings from the 1950s. As a result the Volvos were significantly shorter than contemporary buses operated by private companies in Melbourne. However, they also weighed less than these buses, which in combination with a turbo-charged six cylinder diesel engine, accounted for their sprightly performance. They were also noted for an increased level of passenger comfort over previous M&MTB buses.
These buses entered service in the same orange colour scheme as the Z class trams, which signified a renewal of the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board. In 1983, when the M&MTB was absorbed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the buses were repainted into the new corporate green and gold livery.
Prior to formation of the MTA, eight Volvos were leased to the Victorian Railways for service from the former Sandringham tram depot on the Beaumaris and Southland bus routes.
No 850 was used as a test vehicle for modifications that were later applied to the rest of the fleet. It was withdrawn from service and placed on loan to the TMSV in 1993. Unusually, it was returned to the MTA for a number of months during a bus shortage in 1994.
Content copyright © Russell Jones 2001-5. Reproduced with permission.