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During a decline in patronage in the early 1950s, the Department of Road Transport and Tramways (DRTT) designed a small single deck bus. The design was to be driver-only operated, used on lightly trafficked routes, and to replace the last of the pre-war single deck half-cab buses and war-time Austerity buses still in service. These new buses carried 54 people (23 standing and 31 seated) and were dubbed the 31-seaters. 


All were bodied by Commonwealth Engineering of Granville. Between 1951 and 1954, 120 31-seaters were built on Leyland OPS2/1, AEC Regal III and Daimler CVG6 chassis. Around this time, after the last Leyland OPD2/1 double decker deliveries finished, the Department issued a notice that no more double deckers were to be built, despite having 52 double decker bus chassis in storage.


In 1954 the Department decided to have the remaining 52 chassis bodied as 31-seaters. This comprised 34 Leyland OPD2/1s and 18 AEC Regent IIIs. The bodies of this delivery differing slightly to that of the original batch. 


2878 is an example of the last batch of 31-seaters. Entering service in December 1954, initially allocated to Randwick Depot. The bus was later allocated to Brookvale, Willoughby and North Sydney Depots, becoming a regular sight on the lower North Shore wharf runs to Musgrave Street, Mosman, Cremorne and Neutral Bay Wharves. 


In the mid-1970s 2878 recieved an overhaul into the Public Transport Commission (PTC) blue and white livery, and was one of a very small number of 31-seaters to receive such treatment.


It was withdrawn on August 31, 1979, and was purchased by a member for preservation. 2878 was then sold to another member, Chris O'Brian, in the late 1980s, who carried out a thorough five-year restoration. 2878 was returned to operable condition in 1995. The exhibit made regular appearances at Museum and HCVA events from 1995 to 2019.


2878 is currently awaiting mechanical attention to its brake systems, before being returned to Museum service.



Engine: 9.6 litre OHV AEC diesel engine, bore 4.72", stroke 5.59",  developing 125 B.H.P. at 1800 R.P.M.


Transmission: Four speed 'Wilson' air-operated pre-selector gearbox driving a worm drive differential.

Brakes: Air operated foot brake to all wheels and a mechanical park brake to the rear wheels. 

2878 outside the State Gallery of NSW while operating on Art About shuttles, 2012. David Wilson.


2878 and 3142 with the Lady Woodward at Cremorne Wharf, January 7, 1978. John Ward, SBM Archives.

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