Syd­ney Bus Mu­seum – More Than a Col­lec­tion of Buses

ABC (Australia) - - FEATURE -

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”.


“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.


“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).

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