Sydney Bus Museum – More Than a Collection of Buses
AVISIT TO THE Sydney Bus Museum is a must for any bus enthusiast. This collection of impeccably restored historic vehicles displayed in the Old Tram Depot at Leichardt is more than just old buses.
It’s our industry’s history curated and preserved by a team of long-serving, dedicated and proud bus historians.
At our photoshoot, it was a re-visit to buses of our childhood and an opportunity to be the driver not the passenger this time.
We had the pleasure to speak with several volunteers on the day; the dedication and passion for the museum was quite remarkable. Many of them were quietly spoken but emotional as they explained their work and what it meant to them.
Chechlacz passionately recounted how the museum started: “Originally, the Historic Commercial Vehicle Association was formed in 1964 by a group of enthusiasts that were interested in buses and trucks. In 1986 they were granted a lease over the old train depot at Tempe to set up a museum and it’s developed from there.
“In 2010, State Transit advised us that they needed the property back from Metro Bus Depot, so after some negotiations we moved here to the Old Tram Depot at Leichardt. After a few delays we opened to the public in 2016”.
RUNS LIKE A BUS COMPANY
“Essentially, we run the museum like a professionally run bus company and I am the operations manager,” Chechlacz said.
“We arrange all the events; we run a regular Sunday service for our visitors from the Museum to the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney.
“We do a lot of outside events such as Australia Day in the city, the transport heritage event at Central Station, which is over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, and the Shannon’s Easton Creek Classic at the racetrack – plus many other different community events as well.
“We carry several thousand passengers over these events,” Chechlacz added.
When you think of a museum you think of displays that just need to be cleaned and maintained, but there is a lot more to keeping this place operating from what we learned.
Chechlacz said, “We have a workshop section that looks after the buses that are maintained even though they’re on historical plates. We still inspect them twice a year – the same as any heavy vehicle. We basically follow the same procedures for all of the buses that are in our collection.
“Out of the 70 buses in the collection there are 50 buses housed here; the other 20 are kept at outside locations. Out of that 50, there are about 30 that are registered for use.”
…trying to grab a few more now because if we don’t get them they’ll be gone forever.
MORE TO COME
“You’re probably aware by 2022 all buses have to be low-floor accessible, which means that a lot of the buses still around now and are going to go for scrap because there’s no market for them. So we’re trying to grab a few more now because if we don’t get them they’ll be gone forever. The problem is there is no market for the high-floor buses now,” Chechlacz said.
The museum has a storage facility at Marsden Park that can only take single-deckers, so they rotate the exhibits around from here at Leichardt to Marsden Park every couple of months to refresh the displays.
Space is a real problem for the growing collection, though.
Actually, if there are any operators that have undercover accommodation and are passionate about old buses the museum would be very interested to hear from you. It could be a great showpiece for your business; who knows?
Pictured: The test-driven Mercedes-Benz (top right) is just one facet of the museum and its various exhibits. (Photos: Sydney Bus Museum).