Walking down the street in the centre of Hobart, Tasmania in 2017 I noticed a red double-deck tourist bus approaching and instantly recognised its destination display, ‘CITY/CIRCULAR’.
The typeface was unmistakably from my home city of Sheffield.
When I checked the vehicle’s history I found that it was indeed from Sheffield, dating from 1973, the year before Sheffield Transport Department merged into South Yorkshire Passenger Transport and the livery changed from the smart azure blue and cream to a more insipid coffee and cream. Its original identity was no: 299 in the Sheffield fleet, with the UK registration UWA 299L: 298. UWA 298L: Sheffield Transport | Sheffield Transport 298… | Flickr. This had been obscured by its Australian identity as part of Red Decker Tours Hobart Explorer fleet.
Red double-deckers are ubiquitous in locations that lend themselves to hop-on-hop-off city tours, whereas for ordinary services Australian bus operators have traditionally stuck to single-deck vehicles.
I’ve encountered British-style double-deck tourist buses as far away as Brisbane, Philadelphia, Sydney and Tokyo, but it’s never occurred to me to notice their provenance.
Clearly, Red Decker Tours found it practical to import British buses to the Antipodes for the sake of the better view they offer visitors, though their website shop window shows that they now use purpose-built vehicles with panoramic windows as well as open top decks.