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On the buses: preserving Tasmania's public transport history
« on: January 02, 2015, 05:38:23 PM »
ABC News --> On the buses: preserving Tasmania's public transport history

Many of us use them every day but have you ever given much thought to the buses we travel on?

Tasmanian Grant Wise tends to think of little else.

He is a bus enthusiast and a hard working member of the Tasmanian Bus and Coach Society which strives to preserve the bus heritage of the state.

"The society has had a busy year," Mr Wise said with a knowing smile.

"We managed to preserve another bus."

The vehicle in question was donated by Denis Maxwell, having spent 20 years parked alongside Bass Strait.

"It's a hell of a lot of work," affirmed Mr Wise, who recognised from the start of the project the challenge involved.

"We'll get there eventually. But it's going to be a lot of years," Mr Wise said, acknowledging the 20 years of sea air that had taken its toll on the bus.

Another addition to the Tasmanian Bus and Coach Society was the very first low floor city bus to have operated in Australia.

Built in Kingston, on the outskirts of Hobart, the bus was originally scheduled to be scrapped having notched up 999,000 kilometres.

"It was in service for a long time," Mr Wise said.

While some people might suggest a bus from the early 1990s has little historical value, Mr Wise argued if it is not preserved now it would likely be lost forever.

"You only get one shot at it," he said.

"A lot of its brothers and sisters have already been scrapped."

All up, Mr Wise estimates it would only take a few months to restore the bus to its original 1992 condition but certain issues still remain.

Although 22 years may not seem like a particularly long period, when it comes to motor vehicles it represents one major challenge.

"The biggest killer is electronics," Mr Wise said.

The simple fact is the parts required for a bus circa 1992 are no longer manufactured, which is part of the reason the bus was due to be retired in the first place.
Pilgrimage to 'the spiritual home of Australian buses'

Aside from helping secure and begin refurbishment on two significant additions to the Tasmanian Bus and Coach Societies collection, Mr Wise had another highlight in 2014.

In August, he went on a pilgrimage to Germany - the country regarded as the spiritual home of Australian buses.

Part of his mission was to experience the Tradition Bus which regularly tours the streets of Berlin.

"They've got about 60 buses and they operate one each day on route 218," Mr Wise said.

"They've got an exemption from the wheelchair act which allows them to operate their old buses on a public service."

Having travelled so far, he was keen to meet Stefan Freitag, the boss of the company, whom he spotted using his highly advanced powers of deduction.

"Bus enthusiasts, like train enthusiasts, have a certain look about them," Mr Wise explained, having spotted Mr Freitag taking photos of the bus.

Since the trip Mr Wise and Mr Freitag have remained in contact.

The trip to Germany also gave Mr Wise inspiration for the future: another possible project to have a Tradition Bus service in Tasmania.

"Maybe it's something we could do in the future," Mr Wise said.
Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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“You can't understand a city without using its public transportation system.” -- Erol Ozan