Bondi tram changes track

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

A LIT­TLE piece of Bondi Beach has ar­rived in Auck­land and it will soon be mak­ing tracks near West­ern Springs.

Auck­land’s Mu­seum of Trans­port and Tech­nol­ogy, Mo­tat, has just re­ceived an his­toric tram from Bondi in Syd­ney which should be up and run­ning by the end of the month.

“We’re lucky to get a ve­hi­cle like this,” says Mo­tat tramway man­ager Colin Zeff.

“Not many are around. A Syd­ney tram is an in­ter­est­ing ad­di­tion to the fleet.

“It’s an orig­i­nal Bondi Beach tram. We keep the orig­i­nal des­ti­na­tion blinds.”

He says in con­trast, Mel­bourne trams are read­ily avail­able be­cause the city con­tin­u­ally re­news its fleet.

The 76-year-old tram is one of 120 built and is thought to be the first elec­tric Syd­ney tram in New Zealand.

It op­er­ated along Cir­cu­lar Quay in Syd­ney in the early 1950s, with 48 seats and stand­ing room.

Be­fore be­ing re­stored in the 1980s, the tram was used dur­ing the 1960s for ac­com­mo­da­tion at a to­bacco farm in Ash­ford, north­ern New South Wales.

The tram was also touched up be­fore Mel­bourne’s Moomba Fes­ti­val in 2001 and was used for an en­thu­si­asts’ tour the in 2003.

The Bondi tram fea­tures seats re­cov­ered from the 1956 Syd­ney ferry Kooleen and the side-load­ing fea­ture will help deal with sum­mer crowds vis­it­ing Auck­land Zoo, Mo­tat and West­ern Springs.

Mr Zeff says the tram reached New Zealand shores af­ter com­ing via a flat rack on a con­tainer ship.

“It took a few days to get here and sus­tained no dam­age in com­ing across.

“It is sim­i­lar to Mel­bourne trams but to tramway en­thu­si­asts it is com­pletely dif­fer­ent.”

The mu­seum now has nine op­er­a­tional trams – which in­cludes three from Mel­bourne, the lat­est ad­di­tion from Syd­ney and the re­main­der from Auck­land and Welling­ton.

Mo­tat mar­ket­ing man­ager An­gela Willis says it is great to have this piece of his­tory.

“Our num­bers are in­creas­ing ev­ery year and the trams are very pop­u­lar with vis­i­tors.

“It is larger than the Auck­land trams so we can ex­pand our ser­vice. Every­one can ex­pe­ri­ence it.”

Mo­tat trams car­ried 170,000 pas­sen­gers in the past 12 months.

Work­ers are also busy re­fur­bish­ing a Welling­ton dou­ble-decker tram that should be op­er­a­tional by March.

“The tramway has be­come more and more pop­u­lar. We’re not a stuffy old mu­seum – our dis­plays are al­ways chang­ing,” says Mr Zeff.

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