Southern African Buses and Coaches

SA-T's Book & Reference List -  Buses / Trolleybuses / Trams in South Africa

* New 14-08-2006

There is a lot of material relating to Buses/Trams/Trolleybuses, ie. Magazine references, websites, books, to name but a few, the list that follows is by no means a complete one.  However, it is a start, and we all have to start somewhere.  We would therefore be very grateful for further contributions from everyone who reads this page.  Please me with your list.  Reviews on any of the books/articles are also very welcome.
 Algoa Bus
Author : Johnson, Andrew
Publisher :  The PSV Circle
Review 1
If you are interested in buses you may wish to know of a new publication detailing the fleet of Algoa Bus.
This has been prepared by Andrew Johnson who has made regular visits to Port Elizabeth over the past few years. The fleet list has the benefit of access to Algoa's records and those of the U.K. enthusiast organisation The PSV Circle, of which Andrew has been the Treasurer for 50 years and has recently become the President. The relevant records of
Bus Bodies/Busaf are also incorporated.
The fleet history comprises 36 A5 pages and includes a short introduction, full details of all buses owned and 39 pictures, mostly black and white.
Please me for details on how to obtain this book.

Reviewer:  D. C.

Review 2
Trainspotting is an extremely popular pastime all over the world, and one enterprising UK gentleman, Ian Allan, began his successful railway publishing business by producing a booklet which listed all the SR locos, and to this day these booklets are still published with up to date lists of all the UK railway locos.

Busspotting however, falls a bit behind its train cousins, especially in South Africa, something that Andrew Johnson's new booklet 'Algoa Bus' may just help to change. This extremely informative and detailed booklet on Port Elizabeth buses lists all the current buses and includes many withdrawn ones. The extract below was taken from a review in the April 2006 issue of Truck & Bus magazine.

"The booklet bulges with incredible detail, listing every current vehicle at - and many withdrawn from - the Algoa Bus company by fleet and registration number (both original CB and CCN prefix, plus later EC suffix series), in addition to chassis and bodybuilder’s numbers, rebodying data (where applicable), seat and standing capacity, number of decks, door location, date new and previous owner details – not forgetting their fleet and registration numbers, too. The previous owner category is impressive, represented by Leyland Victories ex-Putco, Durban Transport, United (including Greyhound) and Ciskei, Ciskei ERFs, a Pretoria Atlantean and a Johannesburg AEC Regent V.
Johnson includes data on vehicles sold to Cape Town after Algoa Bus superseded the PE Tramways company in 1990, few of which survive today. Prominent in the present fleet of more than 300 are 100 MAN Explorers (nos 501-600), none more than 5 years old, and 48 ex-Putco Leyland Victories (901-948) with characteristic Dubidgeon bodies. A feature of contemporary Port Elizabeth buses is the high standing capacity – as much as 46 on an ERF Trailblazer or Leyland Victory with 53 or 54 seats.
Astonishingly, in a production as comprehensive as this, the author is not South African, though he made successive visits here in the course of his research. Chairman of the PSV Circle, an active UK enthusiast group, he is now busy with a companion volume for Cape Town – an even more daunting challenge.
Algoa Bus is profusely illustrated, reflecting a rich variety of different vehicles, reminiscent of municipal fleets like that at Pretoria, six decades ago. Many vehicles have been rebodied, making it difficult to identify individual buses by visual inspection. The photographs include visiting buses that happened to be in Port Elizabeth when the book was being put together (such as an SA Roadliner double-deck intercity coach), and also typical minibus-taxis.
Enthusiasts interested in a copy of Algoa Bus (£9 or a R100 note which will also cover postage) should write to
Andrew G Johnson, 30 Bonnersfield Lane, Harrow HA1 2LE, England

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the booklet from a friend and have found it invaluable. Living in Port Elizabeth means that I see the Algoa buses everyday, and now having the information about the buses on hand I am encouraged to take photos of them at every opportunity, at last I need only look up a number in the booklet to get all the details.

Reviewer:  D. C.1

Double-Deck Trolleybuses of the World  - Beyond the British Isles
Author : Patton, Brian
Publisher :  Adam Gordon, 2004
ISBN: 1874422508
Of the 861 double-deck trolleybuses that ran outside Britain, no less than 522 were to be found in South Africa.  Spain came next, with 172;  Portugal had 50;  Sydney and Adelaide operated 59 between them;  Sri Lanka ran to 35.
With the exception of Moscow (12 AECs from the UK), the remainder - including Germany and Malaya - could be counted on one hand.  Germany did have 28 unusual one-and-a-half-deck trolleybuses, though strictly speaking they fall outside the range of the book's title.

Trolleybus enthusiasts will be lucky to get their hands on this desirable 96-pager, its publication limited to only 700 copies. Along with 32 systems in other lands, those of Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and
Pretoria are described in detail, profusely illustrated with rare photos that few will have seen before. Many were taken by people better known in rail circles (such as the late Roger Perry), others by well-known Durban
collector Kevan Mardon, one-time SABC radio personality John Silver and slightly less familiar names like Noel Reed and Pam Eaton. A feature unique to early Johannesburg buses - route number display on the offside - is
mentioned though not illustrated.

One of the vehicles pictured was part of an order for Johannesburg diverted in the early days of World War II to London Transport, who numbered it 1745.  Another, LT 1749, was supposed to have gone to Durban. Two absorbing pages deal with experimental vehicles tried in Johannesburg during the eighties, in the course of a test project largely funded by the national Department of Transport.

A minor criticism might be the absence of maps. It would have been instructive to trace routes so comprehensively described. Back in 1975, author Brian Patton (who took many of the pictures himself) put the finishing touches to the definitive publication Johannesburg Tramways - which did include maps. Tony Spit, who wrote the original text, died aged only 31 in 1968. Patton (by profession a history teacher) added chapters including two on trolleybuses and saw the 137-page work through the press. As in the case of the present volume, he worked from a distance - Scotland
in fact, where he has lived all his life.

One or two miniscule errors of detail may be forgiven - Patton is not the only one confused by the niceties of Cape Town's tramway company names and details. The City Tramways Company Limited, for instance (a "group of
private companies") was actually a public company in its own right, dating from 1878. And the old tram depot in Woodstock (which "made way for a block of flats") was in fact replaced by the new six-floor headquarters known as
Tollgate House. You can bet on it - this reviewer had an office in the building.

Reviewer:  R. D. - as published in the June 2005 edition of Truck & Bus SA

Cape Trams.  Cape Town
Author: Fraser, Gill & associates
Publisher: Cape Electric Tramways, 1961
Trams - real trams on rails - are the main subject matter in both Track and Trackless and Johannesburg Tramways, though they do deal with trolleybuses as well. Neither unfortunately covers the field of motor buses.

Cape Trams, which includes a number of historic photos, was an official company centenary publication. Although the first horse-drawn trams only started operating in 1863, the formation of the original Cape Town Tramway company preceded that date. By 1898, both the Port Elizabeth and Cape Town tram systems were subsidiaries of the same parent. The book accordingly covers the history of both trams and buses in both cities, and also the Western Cape "country" cousins at Mamre, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Strand. (Saldanha and Worcester are not mentioned; both joined the fold only in later years).

Reviewer: R. D. - as published in article in the monthly Truck & Bus SA during 2003.

Johannesburg Tramways
Author:  Spit,  A H M with additional material by Brian Patton
Publisher : Light Railway Transport League, 1976.
The story of Johannesburg Tramways is a tragic one. Author Tony Spit did not live to see it completed and published. After his death in 1968 at the age of only 31, the manuscript lay untouched until a British publisher arranged for Brian Patton to finish the project in 1975. Including material that had not been available previously, Patton in his 137 pages credits several well-known names for their assistance.

Reviewer: R. D. - as published in article in the monthly Truck & Bus SA during 2003.

Leyland Bus Mk2
Author:  Jack, A.D.
Publisher :  Transport Publishing Co, 1984
                  :  The Promotional Reprint Company, 1992*
*ISBN:  1 85648 103 4
Track and trackless.  Cape Town
Author :  Coates,  P R
Publisher :  Struik, 1976
ISBN: 0869770632

Running to 240 pages, Track and Trackless is a beautiful book in large format, profusely illustrated with 164 photos and many line drawings, and bulging with interesting and useful facts. A real labour of love, it was the result of painstaking research by Peter Coates of the South African Library, who coupled all his professional expertise with deep personal devotion to the subject matter.

[In 2005, Coates put together a follow-up edition listing all the references used in Track & Trackless as well as those for "abandoned research on railways of the south-western Cape". Running to almost 300 pages between hard covers, it was produced as a very limited edition of 3 copies.  It runs to nearly 300 pages and is marked "not for sale". ]

Reviewer: R. D. - as published in article in the monthly Truck & Bus SA during 2003.


Tramway systems of Southern Africa.  Johannesburg
Author : Howarth,  W D
(unpublished monograph) 1971
More people, it seems, were drawn to trams than buses, and more has been written about them. A useful 69-page record, detailing all the trams used in South African cities and the routes they served, was compiled in 1971 by W
Des Howarth. Entitled Tramway systems of Southern Africa, regrettably it did not get beyond a duplicated version, and few copies have survived. Trolley lines at Lourenço Marques - today's Maputo - are also included, as are those
at Victoria Falls, Umtali and elsewhere.

Reviewer: R. D. - as published in article in the monthly Truck & Bus SA during 2003.

Our world on wheels.  Randburg
Author :  Maund,  T B
Publisher: United Transport, 1987.
Covering both road trucking and buses, Tom Maund's Our world on wheels (1987) chronicled 25 years of the United Transport group, from its initial investment in South Africa in 1962. Not long afterwards, United pulled out of buses, to concentrate on its extensive freight interests under the Unitrans label.

Reviewer: R. D. -  as published in article in the monthly Truck & Bus SA during 2003.

Port Elizabeth Tramways.  Port Elizabeth
Author :  Shields, G B
Published : 1979
This profusely illustrated record of trams and buses at Port Elizabeth was published to coincide with the centenary of the PE Tramway company in 1979.
All the highlights of 100 years are covered, such as tramway electrification in 1897, the crippling competition by "pirate" buses in the twenties, the great floods of 1908 and 1968 (watch out for 2028!) and the gradual takeover
of surviving independents - including bus services originally provided by the S A Railways
.                   Reviewer: R. D.

The first part of the 64 page booklet is devoted to history of the tramcars beginning with horse-drawn trams in 1881 and then the introduction of electric trams in 1897. The remainder of the publication covers the bus services and is richly illustrated with photographs of various models of single and double-decker buses in use up to 1979. It lacks a route map of the electric tramway and bus services.                                                                                Reviewer: B. M.

Tram & Trolley in Africa
Author :  Pabst, Martin
Publisher: Röhr Verlag, 1989 ISBN: 3884901524
Publisher: Seven Hills Books, 1991 ISBN: 388490132X
Has a section with detailed coverage of all tram and trolley bus systems in South Africa, and listings of tram and trolleybus fleets. I obtained a brand-new copy of this book in 2004 from Germany through www.
(text in German and English).

Reviewer: B. M.

Kimberley Tramways - a history of Kimberley's Tramways 1887-1985
Author : Sabatini, Richard
Publisher : Kimberley Litho Printers, 1985
ASIN: B0007BE37S
Concise and richly illustrated 32-page A4 format publication of the complex history of Kimberley’s Tramway Companies and includes the return of the present tram service in 1985. It has four excellent maps showing the extents of the services.

Reviewer: B. M.


A Historical Survey of Kimberley Trams
Author : Higgo,  F
Published : 1976

Facts about Durban 2nd Edition
Author : Jackson. A
Published : 2004
Available from FAD Publishing
Famous Motor Coaches and Coachways of the World
Author : Carter,  E F
Published : Frederick Miller, London, 1957
Includes some text on South Africa and three photos - a Leyland Comet, a Guy with underfloor Gardner engine and a single-decker allegedly rebuilt from a London Transport Guy Arab Mk III.



Other Media, Magazines etc

Contributors: R. D & B.M

A series of articles published by Graham Shields in SA Transport:
Sep 1972 The past 30 years of road passenger transport in SA p.716-719
Sep 1973 The Double-Decker Bus in South Africa p 575-580
Sep 1975  South Africa's Trolley Buses, part 1  
May 1976 South Africa's Trolley Buses, part 2  
Dec 1976 South Africa's Trolley Buses, part 3  
Oct 1974 Paarl Passenger Transport p.571-574
July 1978 Capital City Transport, a brief history of Pietermaritzburg's
Municipal Transport Services, part 1 1898-1945
The development of the urban passenger transport vehicle in South Africa, condensed version of a paper read at the Institute of Administration in Hong Kong, by John Herdman (MD, Bus Bodies SA Limited), Oct 1976, p.590-592.
Selwyn Dornan & Christopher Steele:
July 1975 Electric Traction in South Africa  
Sep 1975 Johannesburg Trolley Buses, Includes detailed route map. p.3-9
J A Fann:
Sep 1970 Durban's Double-Deck Trolleys p.13-16
Oct 1970 Durban's Double-Deck Trolleys p.4-6
Jan 1972 The Tramways of Durban p.9-13
Mar 1972 The Tramways of Durban p.5-9
Articles in TRAMWAY REVIEW 14 (1982):
Brian Patton, Tramways in East London, Part 1 summer 1982, p. 171-179
Brian Patton, Tramways in East London, Part 2 autumn 1982, p. 220-227
Articles in SA RAIL:
March-April, 1982 Johannesburg Trolley Buses by Mike Baxter p.1
May-June, 1982 Johannesburg Trolley Buses - June 1982 p.7
May-June, 1982 Johannesburg Trolley Bus demonstration, 1982 p.7
May-June, 1982 General news: trolley buses p.8
Elspeth Read & Anthony Spit, The Kimberley Trams
BUS & COACH (British trade magazine):
Feb, 1958 Guy motorbuses
July, 1958 Sunbeam trolleybuses
June, 1960 Operating 106 Passenger Double-Deckers
Jo'burg large Sunbeam trolleybuses are mentioned in passing in this article.
RD : R. Dickson
BM : B. Martin
DC : David Corke
DC1 : Me


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