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Adelaide’s Last Double Decker Buses

With the arrival in Adelaide last month of the new double decker bus, I thought it timely to remember our first lot of double deckers and share some memories of the days when the old double decker trolley buses and diesels serviced various parts of the city.

Double deckers first made an appearance on our streets when trolley buses were introduced back in the late 1930s and continued to operate until about 1963 when the last line was converted to motor buses.

Photo from Wikipedia Commons. Double Decker Trolley Bus 1940s showing the front and rear entrances. Love the old advertising for Alaska Ice Cream, The Perfect Food!

Photo from Wikipedia Commons. Double Decker Trolley Bus 1940s showing the front and rear entrances. Love the old advertising for Alaska Ice Cream, The Perfect Food!

My strongest recollection of those old buses is that they had both a front and rear entrance and that rear entrance had no door and if you were running extremely late to the stop, you could grab the pole and haul yourself on board, sometimes with the helping hands of other passengers and even the conductor. Not something that would be allowed these days I’m sure.

The other strong memory is the big hooks on the back of the buses. When a woman with a pram got onto the bus, she would leave her pram on the footpath and once all the other passengers were on board the conductor or driver would get off the bus and go and hang the pram on one of the big hooks. Similarly, bike riders were able to catch the bus by just hanging their bike on the hook and jumping on the bus.

Trolley buses covered most of the city and suburbs in those days but the double deckers mainly covered the Port Adelaide and Glenelg routes. There was a regular service along Port Road to Croydon with stops at Kilkenny, Woodville, Cheltenham, Albert Park and Port Adelaide.

The old trolley buses were all eventually replaced by motor buses, most just your normal bus, but with a few double deckers. The photo above is from 1958, from The Advertiser files and was taken at 5pm, peak hour, outside what is now the Bank SA building in King William Street, with the photographer using the words “Bus Crowds’ as the original caption.

The destination sign on the bus is for ‘Graymore via St Leonards’ and I believe that these motorised double deckers mostly serviced the south run down Anzac Highway.

The last of the motor double decker buses were taken off the main city routes in the 1960’s and some were used up until the 1970s by the Transway Bus Company in the Elizabeth area.

The new double decker has been established to service the airport route and runs hourly

Do you remember Adelaide’s last double decker buses? And what are your memories of riding on the old buses as you were growing up?

5 Responses to Adelaide’s Last Double Decker Buses

  1. Bev Smith-Trim December 10, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    I used to love riding on the Trolleybuses when I was a child. For many years in my adult life I assisted with the care and cleaning of the trolleybuses on display at the Tramway Museum at St. Kilda. There is a memorial plaque to my late husband Neville in the Bus Shed at St K – he organised one of the refurbishments of that display.

  2. Raelene Wiles December 13, 2014 at 12:36 am #

    i would often catch the bus in King Williams St to go with my friends home from work,I loved it.Otherwise I had to walk to Victoria Square to catch the Tram to Plympton ok.Bus was further to walk when I got off,but the difference from Hindley St. To Victoria Sqare made up for it.

  3. Brian Lamprell November 14, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

    As kids, my brother John and I would catch the double-decker motor bus to Somerton and go to the beach. We used to sit in the front seat upstairs and laugh as the branches from the Norfolk Island pine trees along Brighton Road would smash into the left side of the roof as we travelled along

  4. Mike Micanopy December 13, 2017 at 12:40 pm #

    My mother liked to tell a story about my eldest brother, who would have been aged about 4 or 5. After a couple of years of being too scared to ride on the top floor of a double-decker bus, one day he finally plucked up the nerve. Having slowly and tentatively climbed the stairs, he immediately came screaming down again, saying “Mum, we can’t go up there; there’s NO DRIVER !!!!”

  5. ESLowe April 7, 2019 at 2:10 pm #

    I still remember as a child in Adelaide coming home from the movies in the city in the double decker buses.We would rush to sit at the front window and enjoy the upstairs view. There was always this low hanging tree branch that would slap againt the window like a whip, (at the end of Russell Street,I think) just before we turned ont West Terrace.

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