The first Hobart trolley bus, 1935 (AOT, PH30/1/1676)

A three-axle trolley bus began service in Hobart in 1935 from the city to Huon Road. In 1937 it was joined by four similar vehicles running to New Town Station and later Cornelian Bay. In the period 194252 a further 58 trolley buses were acquired. The Hobart City Council replaced tram services to Cascades, Dynnyrne (Proctor's Road), Sandy Bay and West Hobart between 1942 and 1958. Subsequent tram replacements were by motor bus.

The first trolley buses in Hobart were built by the City Council on Leyland chassis. From 1950 more modern buses, built by City Bodyworks, Hobart on British United Traction chassis were introduced. The early trolley buses were garaged in the tram depot and towed backwards by a tram to reach the running wires in Macquarie Street where they took up daily service. Separate trolley bus depots were provided in 1944 and 1954 in Collins and Davey Streets.

In Launceston the whole tramway system, except the Trevallyn route, was replaced by 30 trolley buses following a report on transport policy for the city by Sir William Goodman, of the Adelaide Tramways Trust. Adelaide-built Lawton bodies on British United Traction chassis were chosen. The Howick Street tram depot was adapted for use by buses.

Trolley buses were popular with passengers: they were virtually silent and pollution free, and accelerated and climbed hills quickly. However, the Metropolitan Transport trust, which acquired both the Hobart and Launceston operations in 1955, withdrew them in 1968 in favour of motor buses. A drought-induced power shortage in 1967 had affected operations and the Trust wished to move away from fixed route systems.

Two trolley buses have been preserved at the Tasmanian Transport Museum, Glenorchy.

Further reading: IG Cooper, Trolley Buses of Tasmania, Sydney, 1979.

Graham Clements