Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ACTBUS take ex-ACTION Bus 670 around Canberra

ACTBUS is a local internet forum where matters pertaining to the ACT Bus network, its fleet, stops, livery, employees, public perceptions, local supermarkets, locations of fast food outlets, digital TV reception etc are discussed and archived. They also have an extensive gallery of pictures of buses that have been in ACTIONS fleet over the years.

They also hold a few social activities, and the tour of Canberra's bus related sites on a bus is probably the highlight of the ACTBUS social calendar. It was particularly appealing this year as it was to be on an ACTION drivers personal bus, an ex-ACTION Mercedes he bought from Sydney after it was retired from service. He is currently restoring it with the assistance of several enthusiastic gunzels. They have done a pretty good job so far, with an ACTION livery applied sans ACTION graphics. They have even obtained an old ACTION destination roll, correct to the period of the bus. It is registered, insured and ready to roll.
At 1PM on Sat 26th of March,  ex-ACTION 670 arrived at Platform 5 of the Belconnen Community Station to collect an assortment of retired ACTION employees, members of ACTBUS, a few current ACTION drivers and me.  

There was a list of people that had indicated they would be attending, and the money to cover costs was collected ($10)  and names ticked off. The bus set off at about 1.15Pm to Civic where it was to collect a few more people. Just before leaving Belconnen, an ACTION supervisor advised us to be careful as there had been reports of teenagers throwing rocks at buses from a bridge. Im pretty sure we didn't get attacked during the day. 

It was certainly odd traveling on the bus and chatting to the gunzels. They were very well informed on all the peculiarities of the various buses in ACTIONS fleet, the dogs, the good ones and the decisions made to purchase various buses. I think if the various consultants that the ACT Government hire to give them advice on planning Canberras public transport spent a few hours with these people - they would learn some very valuable things.
After leaving Civic, 670 then headed off to the Woden interchange to collect the last gunzels. At Woden it was realised that 670 had left ten minutes early from Civic, and should they go back and see if anyone else had turned up? As all those who had RSVP'd were on board the decision was no. 
Naturally one of them had loaded MyBus on their smartphone. It was fun to fiddle with, but as ACTION wont allow certain data to be made public, functionality was fairly limited. It is good to be able to look at your bus routes timetable. 

Discussion then turned to availability of timetable info from a specific bus stop. It exists, but ACTION wont release that either. Solution - photograph your bus stops timetable on the plastic timetable display on the pole (if its displayed) and keep it on your phone. Its clear that real-time data  can be very useful for people planning a trip using ACTION, and that data should be accessible by a smartphone. 
The tour detoured into the Tuggeranong depot for a few laps around while we snapped photos from the window. Sadly, we didn't stop and alight to take photos. I guess ACTION dont want gunzels racing around their depot on the weekend. 
 Glad to see ACTION employees embracing active transport. 
 Excellent use of a bus stop
 'Ed' performing driving duties for part of the tour.
After leaving Tuggeranong we shadowed an actual ACTION bus on part of its route. You could see very quizzical looks on peoples faces that were waiting at the bus stops as two ACTION buses appeared to be arriving - on a Saturday afternoon. 
We stopped at several ex-terminus's (termini?) at Theodore and Conder Red Hill where all infrastructure had been removed. We would be regaled about the history of the location, the routes that it served, when it operated etc. Trust me - this is interesting stuff.  Many photos were taken, of buses, bus signs, bus stops, concrete pads where things used to be, etc. 
 Obviously easier to leave your ride home where you can access it upon your return.
 The restoration job so far has been pretty good. 
The rear of the bus was opened several times, for photos and also because it got pretty hot on a few occasions, such as the trip up Red Hill and around some of Tuggeranongs more hilly areas.
The destination roll was changed numerous times during the day. People were snapping various vintage locations such as 'Canberry Fair 'etc. You may notice on one of the other photos a location called 'Condor'. 
I didn't do a head count, but there was at least 30 people on board during the day.  At least three were current ACTION drivers, who swapped driving duties at most stops. The onboard division seemed to be retired ACTION up the front, gunzels down the back. 
 Three buses in this photo in Red Hill/Narrabundah.
There are quite a few 'historic' bus stops around Canberra, which you realise when they are pointed out to you. Quite a few are no longer on actual ACTION routes any more. This one in Forrest. We even saw locals taking photos, either of the old ACTION bus or the odd gents (and they were all gents) standing around with cameras taking photos of an old bus. 
After a tour around Narrabundah and Red Hill, we headed up to the Red Hill lookout for photo opportunities. Breathtaking views from up there, although a coke and cake from the cafe set me back ten bucks. And it was a 200ml bottle...
 The bus was carefully backed into the kerb so that a group photo could be taken.
The group photo. I stole this photo from the ACTBUS forums. Chris, the bus owner is third from right. 
After leaving the Red Hill lookout, 670 headed down to the Old Bus Depot in Kingston, which is now a weekend market and artsy crafty precinct. Historically, 670 shouldn't have gone there as this bus probably never set tyre in the depot, according to some of the gunzels - being too new apparently. Still, it was a good photo opportunity.

Update from Martin670 didn’t spend time at Kingston Depot although not because it was too young. Its class mates 650 to 666 (or something like that) were allocated to Kingston and moved out when Kingston was closed.
We then left the old Kingston Depot and headed for the National Gallery , and a stop for photos. We then toured around the lake in front of Reconciliation Place and then up to Old Parliament House. Quite a few gunzels got out to take photos of the tent embassy, and Martin took over driving duties, heading around the back of Old Parliament House so 670 could do a few passes in front of it for photo opportunities. 
Confused ACTION patron attempting to board 670

670 then headed to Civic across the lake and arrived in the Civic interchange around 5 PMish. There were lots of people standing around waiting for buses (I think there was a rugby match on) so 670 pulled up at Platform 5 (near Northbourne) and I got off. The bus was heading off for more gunzel sightseeing, night time photo opportunities and a dinner in Dickson, but I had a prior engagement (her name was Kristina Kenneally) so I bade farewell. 

This was the second time I had been on this tour, and it was certainly a lot of fun. Last year several ACTION buses were chartered, but using a historic vehicle this year was a stroke of genius. It was also great to meet the members of the ACTBUS forum, gunzelling is a fairly solo activity and ACTBUS is a loci for their interests so they dont really meet each other in the flesh all that often. 

My thanks to all involved in organising this trip. It was great fun. 

If you have an interest in the public transport network in Canberra, I recommend visiting the ACTBUS forum and joining in or just lurking and reading the phenomenal amount of information they have compiled on the Canberra ACTION network and its fleet of machines. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

All Ford Day 2011 Part 3 1980 to 2011 - XD, XR6, XR8, FPV, GTP, AFP Pursuit XR6

Here is Part Three of my photo essay on this years All Ford Day. Sadly, there were very few XDEF Falcons in attendance, and as already mentioned - overall numbers of spectators and cars were down this year, probably due to the weather. I thought of driving my XR8 Faker Panelvan in to add some balance! 
 Tough, plain XD with an unusual shaker 
 Still earning its keep, towing one of the racing cars on display.
 EF XR8 Falcon
 I like the intake setup - impressive underbonnet work
 Rarer than a Phase 3 - the EB XR8 Sprint
Ford really dropped the ball with the initial launch of the AU Falcon, it had strange styling, a bizarre ride height and so-so finish. The only real hits were the XR8 and the Ute. Many people bought aftermarket ute grilles for their sedans, and this was also the last appearance of the four headlight XR front. 
 Im thinking underbonnet heat may be an issue with the modern Falcon

 Nice supercharger. Very neat installation.
 XB bonnet nostrils are still being seen on customs, this is on a BF ute
The ORSM car club from Melbourne used the All Ford Day as an opportunity for a club run - from Melbourne. They had a trouble free run and did the trip in about 8 hours. 8 hours is reasonable. I know one person who did the Canberra Melbourne run in 6 hours and ten minutes.
One of the ORSM guys polishing his ride. This is a scarce car, a non-XR, non-FPV, non-Tickford V8 Ford. By making the V8 an up-market option, Ford are making another business mistake. 
While I appreciate the aesthetics of under-bonnet plastic, as a person whose most recent car was built in 1988, I cant help but think, where do I squirt the 'start ya bastard' spray....
 Modern interpretation of the Phase 3 shaker poking through the BF bulge
 Force8 ? Is this the updated Leyland we never saw ?
 Low, black, fast. Epic.
 The AFP had one of their pursuit cars on display. The officer attending was quite affable and answered lots of questions I had regarding the cars fit-out.
 Apparently this black plastic square at the base of the boot lid just appeared when the car came back from the workshop one day. No one knows what its for...

Also see:
and last years  2010 All Ford Day posts