The first bus service to Lyneham commenced on 22 December 1958, when the group of routes – numbers 29, 30, 31 and 33 – previously terminating at the intersection of Miller and Scrivener Streets in O’Connor, were extended along Miller Street and down Wattle Street to the site of the yet-to-be-constructed Lyneham Shopping Centre at the intersection of Brigalow and Wattle Streets. It would appear that this was a temporary arrangement, as the construction of some of the streets to the north of Wattle Street was not yet complete.
A major re-organisation of bus routes in Lyneham took place in August 1959. Routes 29, 30 and 31 were extended from Wattle Street to a new Lyneham Terminus in Archibald Street at the end of Mackennal Street. The streets used by these four routes were as follows:
Buses on Route 29 did not go to the City – they traveled from Lyneham Terminus to Kingston via Archibald Street, Barton Highway, Brigalow Street, Wattle Street, Miller Street, Scrivener Street, Hovea Street, Macarthur Avenue, MacPherson Street (O’Connor Shops), David Street, Frogatt Street, Boldrewood Street, Kingsley Street, Ellery Street (these streets intersected in 1959), Liversidge Street, Lennox Crossing, Commonwealth Avenue (West Block), Queen Victoria Terrace (East Block), National Circuit (Hotel Kurrajong), Brisbane Avenue, and Wentworth Avenue to Giles Street at Kingston Depot.
Buses on Route 30 traveled to the City via Archibald Street, Barton Highway, Brigalow Street, Wattle Street, Miller Street, Scrivener Street, Hovea Street, Macarthur Avenue, MacPherson Street (O’Connor Shops), David Street, Frogatt Street, Boldrewood Street, McCaughey Street, Gould Street (they intersected in 1959), and Northbourne Avenue
Buses from Lyneham Terminus to the City traveled via Archibald Street, Mackennal Street, Wattle Street, Wakefield Avenue and Northbourne Avenue
This was a new route in the 1959-60 timetable and it is not clear whether Route 26 was introduced at the same time as the extenstion of routes 29, 30 and 31 to Archibald Street in August 1959. Buses on Route 26 traveled to the City via Mackennal Street, Miller Street, Tate Street, MacPherson Street, Condamine Street and Northbourne Avenue
The operation of Route 33 in Lyneham was short lived. Although extended to the intersection of Wattle Street and Brigalow Street in December 1958, by August 1959 buses on Route 33 were running between Wentworth Avenue and Ainslie via Scotts Crossing.
In March 1967, a major revision of routes took place throughout Canberra, with three routes serving Lyneham: Route 29 to the City via Boldrewood Street, 30 to the City via Barton Highway, and 31 to the City via Wattle Street.
At the time of introduction of bus services to Lyneham, December 1958, the Department of the Interior had a fleet of 63 urban buses: 46 AEC Regal III half caps built between 1948 and 1951, and 17 AEC Reliance underfloor-engined one-man buses. The half-cabs were operate by two men – a driver and a conductor.
The Department started to take delivery of the underfloor-engined buses in 1956 and received No. 17 in June 1958. Commonwealth Engineering built the bodywork in Sydney. Lyneham’s bus service in 1958 would have been supplied by a mix of the earlier half-cab buses and the new underfloor-engined buses.
When the major extension of services to Lyneham was implemented in August 1959, the Department had taken delivery (between March and July that year) of a further eight new, underfloor-engined AEC Reliances, numbered 018 to 025.
While the basic overall body design was similar to the first 17 AEC Reliances, the new buses were the first built for Canberra with a new design passenger window. The previous full-height sliding windows were replaced by a top sliding opening section to eliminate the safety concerns created by passengers putting their heads out the windows and to reduce the drafts within the saloon.
In addition, heaters were provided for the first time, together with electric demisters. Seating was improved and the traditional bell cord was replaced by a plastic tube mounted above the windows, which activated a light at the front of the bus to re cord that the bus was stopping at the next stop. The destination boxes on both sides of the bus, as fitted to the first 17 units, were deleted from the design of these new vehicles.
These later buses were essentially similar in broad outline to 050, built in June 1961, which has been retained in the ACTION Heritage Fleet. It could be expected that Lyneham would have been visited at some stage after March 1959 by one of these new passenger and driver friendly buses.
By the end of 1961, when the Canberra Omnibus Service had 53 AEC Reliances in the fleet, one could safely assume that a very large percentage of route services to Lyneham would have been operated by the new underfloor-engined buses.
Author: Ian Cooper