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London Buses

The Last Great Cruise of The Queen Mary
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Story by: The Queen Mary Archivist

Date added: 22 Oct 2017

The London Bus is one of London's principal icons and the red double-decker bus remains a widely recognised symbol of the city.

The layout of the vehicle was traditional for the time, with a half-cab, front-mounted engine and open rear platform. The presence of a conductor on the open rear platform allowed minimal boarding time and optimal security, but with greater labour costs.

The two buses on RMS Queen Mary were purchased by the Long Beach Public Transport Company – a 1950 model KYY 507 and a 1952 model MXX 230.

London Transport had selected buses in excellent condition and, for a minimum price, replaced all mechanical units, including new diesel engines, new transmissions and new differentials. They were then repainted with two coats of paint and two coats of varnish to give them a high gloss appearance.

The buses were unloaded from the ship upon arrival and taken to the bus garage storage facilities on Cherry Avenue to join the 103 blue single-decker Dreamliners. Drivers needed to be trained to operate the right-hand drive buses with passenger loading on the left. Young ladies were recruited to work, uniformed in mini-skirts, as ‘clippies’ on the buses, borrowing the name of the British conductors.
Within just a few of days after being unloaded they were in regular service on new the route to & from downtown Long Beach and Pierpoint Landing.

Three more buses would be delivered to Long Beach in the July of the following year.
Company officials predicted that it may take eight, and possibly ten, to carry the number of tourists expected once the ship was refurbished and moved to the final berth on Pier J.
In the event, only one further bus was delivered in December 1969.

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