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Remembering the times of the Athelstone Bus Services

Adelaide / South Australia Transport Discussion

Remembering the times of the Athelstone Bus Services

Postby runawaybus » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:56 pm

I lived in Paradise from 1975 to 2010 (yes most of my life) and well lived near Thorndon Park Reservoir. Yet, I can tell you some of the interesting tales you hear about public transport are those who lived in areas for most of their lives and can remember what they caught, the drivers and the ever changing scenery.

I remember from an early age that AEC Swifts were common and that our routes the 9F and 9G which bore no resemblance as to where they were going. I think 9F went via Lower Athelstone Road and 9G went via Graves Street (or was it the other way round???).

The journey usually took between 37 from the City however, it was quicker somewhat in the early 1980s when it was express (or they called it back then 'Limited stop') from the city to North Eastern Community Hospital.
Then some wise spark in the STA thought it would make it all stopper and this made Athelstone/Paradise residents cringe with anger yes there were some expresses and some limited stoppers but they were limited to the peak by then the Volvo B59's were the main stay on those routes with the occasional MAN SL200's which we all called Lounge Room Seats because they were so soft to sit on and the B59's were extremely cold in Winter.

In the mid-1980s the Avenue Shopping Centre and Target Newton (i.e. the first one ever built in SA) was the place to shop and many locals were known to shop at those locations with little old ladies with their own shopping trolley's trying desperately to board with no help because STA drivers said OHS&W rules prohibited them from helping but it didn't stop Lang's Buses from the 1960s to 1970s doing the same thing but they helped.

It was strange when one looked at the changing pace of the area it was now being regularly served by a mixture of B59 Volvo's, MAN SL200's and MAN Artics and this was from around 1985 to 1990.

I started high school in 1988 in which I went to Morialta High School and proceeded to catch the bus from George Street Paradise Stop 31 to the Maid and Magpie and caught either the 105 (City to Rostrevor) or 103 (City to Rostrevor College) however, you tried to make sure you caught the 105 because the Rostrevor College students got up to so much mischief and yes it was always operated by a Mercedes Artic from St Agnes- which made no sense to me at first but I worked out that Hackney Depot at the time only had a few artics and they were always used for normal ‘to city’ peak hour services.

The departure time from my stop was at 7:25am (get up at 6:45am) and arrives at Maid and Magpie Stop (Softwoods on Payneham Road) by 7:55am and the Route 105 got to the stop at 8:10am and got to school at 8:30am. This left 15 mins to walk from the bus stop on Moules Road to my classroom. Yes there were times that the 102 Bus Route would be beneficial and it meant getting at the Corner of Reid Avenue and St Bernard’s Road around 8:15am from the departure time from the Maid and Magpie at exactly 8:00am. The quickness of the journey was because hardly anyone caught the bus that morning and the green lights always favoured the from city traffic in the morning peak.
On the way home it was another trek but in reverse leave at 3:35pm and get home at 4:45pm or even later at 4:55pm.

From 1988 to 1989 I thought long and hard about actually of another alternative and it was two girls who were catching the School Bus R in the morning and School Bus T in the afternoon said to catch their bus and get off at the Shell Servo (which is Nando’s) at Glynburn Road opposite K-Mart.

The timing was much different get on bus at George Street at 7:45am get off at Shell Servo at 8:05am and catch 105 bus route at 8:15am and the connections were perfect and got to school at 8:25pm. It was as seamless as that reverse it was still 3:35pm or 3:37pm and get off at Shell Servo at 3:47pm and catch School Bus T at 3:55pm and home by 4:15pm or 4:30pm.

The school buses were 99% of the time Volvo B59’s and yes the MAN SL200 rarely graced its presence.
By now my grandmother who thought long enough about it said on Sundays we would go to the Catholic Church at College Park (Torrens Street) and yes we would walk down all the way from our house to the Paradise Trolleybus terminus catch a 550 route series Merc Rigid to Paradise Interchange and change which only meant a five minute wait and get off opposite then Hackney Depot which was slowly disappearing before our eyes. I also remembering pestering the O-Bahn drivers by asking is this bus easy to drive on the track???

It meant another long walk from there. In all we walked around 40 mins each Sunday but then that was not the end. After Mass we walked all the way from Church to the City East End and had lunch at Al Fresco Rundle Street and walked into Rundle Mall which was all quiet because no shops were open on Sundays. On Grand Prix Final Race Day the atmosphere was great and you felt good about Adelaide. We caught our normal by then 176 (via Clairville and Gorge Road) and 177 (Via Graves Street) home.

A little trick my grandmother used which somehow set a trend was to get off at Stradbroke Road before the Roundabout on the 177 (to Athelstone) and walk straight home through Thorndon Park and we got home quicker than the bus because of the compulsory Coulls Road 6 minute terminus layover.

By now it was the early 1990s and it was now becoming odd that occasionally a B58 Volvo Artic would be used but what made it more interesting was that we heard a campaign which we didn’t know about in 1986 to get the Athelstone routes to go into Paradise Interchange to “stop the theft of Parked cars there”. A Neighbourhood Watch Campaign at its best however when it was introduced in 1995 you guessed only one of the leaders would use it the rest still drove to Paradise.

It was now that many of the roads that the 176 and 177 were being changed and the Albion Terrace road was no longer traversed due to road works making the road somewhat narrower and it meant that Reserve Road and Cresdee Road the 177 route would use and 176 all the way up Clairville Road. The 176 now was travelling in a housing trust area of Clairville Road and 177 was travelling on well-established homes with commuters who enjoyed their bus being so close to them.

As 1992 draw to a close so did the bus routes with August 1992 having the 178 being introduced as a one way loop going along Payneham and Lower North East Roads and Gorge Road, then all the way up to Coulls Road via normal route but returning via Strabroke turning right into Montacute Road and all the way to the city. This was a one way loop.

In 1994 the STA surveyed commuters about the preference for an O-Bahn Link called 576 and 577 which is categorically didn’t put on the form that it would be a feeder service in the interpeak, night and on weekends and everyone agreed but was angered by the forced transfer at the “wind tunnel” at Paradise Interchange but most people still agree the 576 and 577 was the best routes introduced in 1995 by the now TransAdelaide on 7 May 1995.

From 1995 to 2010 there was a number of operators that operated the service it was TransAdelaide, Serco, Torrens Transit and in 2005 Torrens Transit changed the route significantly with the outer portion being extended to turn left at Maryvale Road and continue along it until it hit Montacute Road. The theory behind this long route was to get University Students to be dropped right off at North Terrace. It was also when the 504 and 104 routes were introduced. Long Routes meant longer travelling times.

The 576/577 had a journey time of around 40 mins and in the peak it was around 37 mins comparing it to the dying days of 176/177 of around 45 mins to 55 mins.

Sadly I left the area where I grew up in because of the passing away of my grandmother on 27 May 2009 and she was a feisty woman who said hopefully one day we will have a straight through service once again along the O-Bahn at all times- she hated the wait at Paradise along with most of the elderly, however, I always remember one thing she always taught me on a crowded bus to stand up for the elderly, pregnant and disabled and you guessed it other women.

The journey of public transport in the Athelstone/Paradise area where I grew up has had some wonderful twist and turns like a bus route and yes from the 1990s onwards the old market gardens were getting sold around Athelstone and were aptly being called “River Gardens” estate.

Today the 178 services this area with no straight through service along the O-Bahn in peak but who knows what will happen in the future? Only time will tell.

These are my thoughts what do you think?
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Re: Remembering the times of the Athelstone Bus Services

Postby 1whoknows » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:23 am

What a pity you didnt move there a few years earlier the you could have experienced the magnificent Bedfords and Fords of Langs Bus service on the Athelstone run.
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Re: Remembering the times of the Athelstone Bus Services

Postby runawaybus » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:30 am

Soon I will talk about Lang's and what I remember my late grandmother and my mother who is still alive telling me about their operation. All I can say they were far superior in Customer service than any of the operators after they handed back their licence to operate in 1975.
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Re: Remembering the times of the Athelstone Bus Services

Postby Eurostar » Mon Mar 25, 2013 7:08 pm

I was in the Campbelltown area from 1997 and 1998, I recall the 175 going all the way to Dernancourt sometimes my family would walk from Lower North East Road, I don't recall seeing 174s but I saw pothooks for the route number, 176 and 177 went to Paradise Interchange (my family's local bus route), 178 was our night, sundays and public holidays route, went to Athelstone via Clairville Rd then right onto Newton Road, left onto Montactute Road, I recall getting Volvo or MAN SL200 buses on those routes.

On Thursday if we wanted to go to Tea Tree Plaza we would get a 576 from Graves Street to Paradise Interchange then an O-Bahn bus to Tea Tree Plaza, then after shopping we would get a Obahn bus to Paradise Interchange then 576 it was the long way around but I loved seeing the Athelstone area and being on a Mercedes-Benz O305 or O305G bus or 577 which was the direct route home. I think in late 1997 or in 1998 the SL9 was introduced ran by a minibuses.

Clairville Road area was served by 176/177/178, whats its served by now at night, weekends and public holidays?
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Re: Remembering the times of the Athelstone Bus Services

Postby burrumbus » Mon Mar 25, 2013 7:34 pm

runawaybus wrote:Soon I will talk about Lang's and what I remember my late grandmother and my mother who is still alive telling me about their operation. All I can say they were far superior in Customer service than any of the operators after they handed back their licence to operate in 1975.

Thank you for your personal history of the services in Athelstone.For a relatively small area a tale of continued change of the pattern of services.I look forward to your piece on Langs.Cheers.
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Re: Remembering the times of the Athelstone Bus Services

Postby 1whoknows » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:49 pm

The 178 had some good buses on it today in the form of several ex Melbourne Bus Link Ansair MAN SL200s.
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Re: Remembering the times of the Athelstone Bus Services

Postby runawaybus » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:27 pm

Thanks for the encouragement OneWhoKnows.

Maybe it’s the way Lang’s operated its bus services or the fact that nothing was too hard for drivers to do. My late grandmother mentioned that if she or her daughter (my mother) were the last ones on the bus the driver would actually drive up Ozone Parade (there was only less than a handful of houses back then) and drop them off right at home. In fact she mentioned there were only about three services each way from Monday to Friday and two services each way on Saturdays with only one each way on Sundays.

I don’t know the exact timetable but I have heard it was a peak hour service, 12pm service and 5pm service, and on Saturdays 9am and 12pm one way and 10am and 5pm return and on Sunday 12pm and 5pm. Although the Sunday service was actually a trial because Lang’s wasn’t confident in getting the patronage.

They had large buses she said which cements what many people have said Bedford’s and Ford’s and they were very clean buses with no litter or even dare we say graffiti on them. Even if the bus was in service and it had passengers if it got to the terminus at Athelstone drivers would sweep the bus and clean the windows and indeed they had a 10 minute layover at the terminus.

Prior to Lang’s actually travelling along George Street Paradise residents were forced to get off at Gorge Road where now Bianco’s is and walk through (or cut through) the farm that was there to their houses. In fact stories are so numerous about the Italian farmer who owned that farm that he started shouting and waving his pitchfork if anyone dared to trample on his veggie farm. This happened many times and yes it was mainly young school students.

My late grandmother said eventually the farmer built a small gravel footpath for the residents but it was too late because by the late 1960s and early 1970s the bus was re-routed to travel along Avenue Road Paradise but for one reason or another Lang’s stopped going along there (my late grandmother claimed it was roadwork’s) and started going down Silkes Road which was more of a patronage generator as by the early 1970s to late 1970s houses were popping up everywhere along there including the then new Paradise Primary School which opened in 1978.

The Paradise Primary School was built because of the huge increase in students’ numbers at Athelstone Primary School and Athelstone Primary School was rather old. I went to Paradise Primary enjoyed it in fact it was common for us to ride our bikes to school or walk (compare that to now that students go by car or only rarely by bus). We learned in 1985 that we would have Children’s Crossing developed on George Street which meant volunteering as Traffic Monitor and yes we were told never to stop buses and that was for one obvious reason- they are too heavy and take longer to stop.

Yet watching the buses go past whilst I was traffic monitoring took on a new meaning in 1987 when suddenly instead of old-STA buses you had Flynn’s Coaches, Torrens Valley Coachlines and other operators who had much older buses with black smoke pouring out when they drove past us.

Whilst Lang’s was known for customer service it was known for the only bus operator that Athelstone and Paradise residents loved and miss very much because they had a non-stop journey from the City to North Eastern Community Hospital and stories go that the journey only took back in the early to late 60s only 30 minutes to get from the City to Athelstone.

Yes there were some drivers that knew customers by name or surname and yes some of those drivers are no longer driving but there is one and he still works as a bus driver for Torrens Transit he is a good mate of mine. However, it appears Bowman’s had the same philosophy of customer service and so did the other private operators but never the MTT or STA or even TransAdelaide.

As it turned out Lang’s were one of the last to hand in their licence to the Government on 1st July 1975 and when this happened many locals were not very happy. However, this heralded new look timetables including at the back a section called journey times in which it showed journey times from the city to various ticket sections of the route something which the MTT had been doing for tram timetables prior to 1958.

It should be note there were no night services and Lang’s apparently wanted to trial a night service but it was pointed out to passengers that the cost of providing them would outweigh the benefits they would gain.

Even though some passengers would have liked to have a night service it was because of one main reason why passengers really would not use the bus because they felt that the car or even taxi was the one to use to go out to the theatre, movies or to friends’ house.

Maybe Lang’s might have been a good customer focused friendly operator they knew their time was coming up for ending their ties with the suburbs of Paradise and Athelstone and yes residents knew about the other operators like Lewis Brothers, Bowman’s and many others because Lang’s drivers always spoke about other operators and not in a bad way either they said that “we were all on one ship called HMAS Public Transport and we respect each other and they respect us” in fact back then no operator would compete with each other nor would be that nastiness that sometimes prevails now with bus drivers cutting in front of another one. Respect was something that all operators had for each other because all the drivers knew that this meant good customer service and also more passengers using their services.
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Re: Remembering the times of the Athelstone Bus Services

Postby burrumbus » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:16 am

Thank you for your memories of Lang's buses.Really enjoyable.Perhaps some food for thought on how the" old school operators" operated their services and were able to build customer loyalty through superior customer service?Something absolutely lacking in not only public transport-but in many aspects of business and life.Cheers.
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Re: Remembering the times of the Athelstone Bus Services

Postby jennyrose » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:10 am

My sisters and I caught the lang's bus from Farmer St Thorndon Park, along Gorge Rd.to the corner of Newton Road to attend Campbelltown Primary. We were known as the 'Little Rose girls' because we were pretty small in those days. Often the drivers had to wait as my youngest sister dawdled along the dirt road in the hope that she wouldn't have to go to school. The drivers were very patient.

One of our bus drivers was Jack Oatey, the well known Sturt Football coach and I think there was another driver connected to the Norwood football club too. They had all come from Yorke Peninsular as had my father.

The buses were small blue buses. Does anyone remember the drivers?

I'm trying to compile a history of our family home in Farmer Street, Thorndon Park and I am having trouble getting documentation and photographs.
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Re: Remembering the times of the Athelstone Bus Services

Postby B59 Volvo » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:02 pm

Hello Jenny,

Sorry I cannot be of any help to you. However I managed to find a colour photo of one of Lang's Bedford buses. It is the 11th photo down this page :

http://www.busaustralia.com/forum/viewt ... 45&t=48923
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