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VöV fronted O305 in Heppenhiem in September 2005
|Body and chassis|
|Floor type||Step-entrance/high floor|
Mercedes-Benz OM407.908 133kw rear underfloor (diesel) Mercedes-Benz OM407HG.295 147 kw rear underfloor (LPG)Mercedes-Benz OM407.913 rear underfloor (CNG)
|Transmission||Mercedes-Benz 3-speed automatic|
The Mercedes-Benz O305 was a rear-engined bus chassis built in West Germany between 1967 and 1987. It was built as a successor of the O317 and was the Mercedes-Benz adaptation of the first so called "Standard-Linienbus" design, that was produced by many different German bus manufacturers. The articulated model was named O305G, the suburban model O307. Its successor was the Mercedes-Benz O405/O407.
The O305 was designed for use as a single decker bus. Double-deck examples, however, could be found in Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa.
In Hong Kong, the O305 was the first bus model from outside United Kingdom and countries of Commonwealth of Nations to be purchased. A total of 41 buses were introduced, with the prototype in 1983 and the others in 1985. All were withdrawn and subsequently scrapped in 2001/02 except three, which are preserved by groups of bus enthusiasts in Hong Kong.
Background and history
For a long period of time, Hong Kong franchised bus operators were required by law to purchase buses produced in Commonwealth countries. After repealing the requirement in 1983, Mercedes-Benz supplied a two-axle 11-metre double-decker to Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB).
The O305 demonstrator was registered on 4 August 1983 and allocated fleet number ME1. Following successful trials, KMB ordered another 40 (ME2-41) in 1985, with improved frontal design and ventilation system. All the 41 buses were fitted with Alexander RH bodies.
KMB later adopted a policy of acquiring 3-axle double-deckers of similar length. Because Mercedes-Benz did not offer a 3-axle version of the O305, no more Mercedes-Benz buses were purchased by KMB.
Initially, the first bus ran on route 105, which was new, running between Lai Chi Kok and Sheung Wan. However, Cross Harbour Tunnel's environment was unsuitable for this model, as well as the fact that the towing of these buses by the tow trucks used by the tunnel authority could result in damage to the chassis, so entire fleet were reallocated to express routes running between Yuen Long and Tsuen Wan/Kowloon. The O305s were renowned for their speed and power, with a maximum speed of over 120 km/h reported.
The buses provided services on the trunk routes in Yuen Long until the mid-1990s. With newer buses (especially those with air conditioning) available for trunk services, the Mercedes were redistributed to North District and Tai Po and served there until their retirement on 22 November 2002.
These buses had a unique livery designed by Kowloon Motor Bus, but all of them had the livery returned to the standard livery of KMB non-air-conditioned buses shortly before their re-distribution.
It was reported that bus enthusiasts rushed to take rides and photos of the last Mercedes when they were announced to be retired, possibly due to their unique roles played in Hong Kong bus service history.
After the evaluation of two Mercedes-Benz O305 double-deckers acquired c. 1982, Singapore Bus Services acquired 200 Mercedes-Benz O305 double-deckers which were very similar to KMB's O305. It features an 11,412 cc OM 407h engine with its modular W3D 080 R gearbox. With a licensed capacity of 109 passengers, the first of them entered service in 1984 and all of them retired in early 2000s.
Perth was the first Australian city to operate the Mercedes-Benz O305. The first units entered service with the Metropolitan Transport Trust (MTT) in 1975. Over a period of eleven years between 1975 and 1986, over 400 O305s were purchased. Transperth (as the MTT was rebranded in 1986) and its contractors began withdrawing this sizeable fleet of O305s in October 1999 although it would be 2012 until the last were withdrawn.
The bodies were built by Freighter Industries, JW Bolton, Hillquip and Howard Porter. There were some unusual O305s operating in Perth. Examples include 444, which featureed a Mauri (Italy) body assembled locally by JW Bolton and 007, an experimental bus (model OG305) with an LPG-fuelled engine. In 1984 008, Australia's first CNG-fuelled bus entered service. From the success of the trial gas buses, two O305s (270/1) were converted to LPG operation in the early 1980s, a CNG-fuelled OG305 was ordered and entered service in 1987 as 009. In the early 1990s 26 O305s were converted to CNG.
Perth was also the first Australian city to operate the articulated Mercedes-Benz O305G. Three batches were purchased with 18 in 1979, 3 in 1980, and 19 in 1986/87. The first and second batches had bodywork completed by JW Bolton and Howard Porter and featured model OM 407h 240 hp (177 kW) naturally aspirated engines. To overcome sluggishness, the buses in the third batch (also featuring Howard Porter bodies but built to the VöV-II design) were fitted with model OM 407hA 280 hp (206 kW) turbocharged engines.
The New South Wales Public Transport Commission and its successors operated the largest fleet of O305s, purchasing 1,287 O305s and 30 articulated O305Gs all bodied by Pressed Metal Corporation for use in Sydney and Newcastle.
Originally the Public Transport Commission ordered 200 Mercedes-Benz O305s with Galvastress Mark 1 bodywork that were delivered between May 1977 and August 1978 with one built with a prototype Mark 2 body. These were followed by an order for 550 Galvastress Mark 2 bodied O305s that remains the largest bus order in Australia. These were delivered between October 1978 and November 1980. Whilst the bodies on the Mark 1s had been an effectively the existing PMC body married with a VöV front, the Mark 2s were of the VöV design with a lower roofline and two-leaf doors.
A further order saw 182 O305s bodied by with the Galvastress Mark 3 body enter service between August 1981 and October 1983 with one built with a prototype Mark 4 body. The revisions to the body were minor, and the most noticeable were a return to four-piece sliding windows to improve ventilation and to 203mm high route numbers at both the front and rear after the 127mm examples proved unpopular. The Mark 3 body was also used on 30 O305G articulated buses. A trial unit was delivered in September 1981 followed by the production units between September 1983 and May 1984.
Withdrawals commenced in 1989 with the final examples withdrawn in October 2012. Many continue in service with private operators.
ACTION in Canberra purchased a fleet of 85 Mercedes-Benz O305s bodied by Ansair, Melbourne between November 1981 and March 1985. They were built with standard Mercedes-Benz "StULB" fronts. After being refurbished in the early 1990s, the first were sold in 1995 and then at several other intervals until 1999. All were sold to private bus companies mainly in the Sydney and Melbourne metropolitan areas with 12 being exported to New Zealand to operate in Auckland and Wellington.
Ansair also bodied five Mercedes-Benz O305G articulated buses between February and April 1983. These were sold in 1997/98 to private bus companies around Australia.
The State Transport Authority purchased 41 O305 and 51 O305G articulated buses for service on the O-Bahn. The chassis were heavily modified at the Mitsubishi Motors plant in Tonsley. The rigid buses had their power increased to 240 hp (177 kW) and the articulateds to 280 hp (207 kW); they were the first buses to travel at a speed of 100 km/h on suburban routes.
Auckland Regional Authority and its successors had a fleet of over 300 Mercedes-Benz O305 buses (Fleet numbers 1301–1600) which were in use until 2005. Many of these had been sold to other bus operators or converted for other uses including mobile homes. All were fitted with New Zealand Motor Bodies B46D bodies, VoV bodies built under license. No.1527 of 1978 preserved at MOTAT.
New Plymouth City Council purchased seven Mercedes-Benz O305 buses. Four were purchased in 1976, on the back of the Auckland Regional Authority order, and used the same specifications. Three more were purchased in 1984.
Egged in Israel purchased 1,111 O305s, 756 of them had Israeli made bodies.
The South East Lancashire North East Cheshire Passenger Transport Executive purchased two right hand drive O305 underframes and had them fitted with Northern Counties bodies with 43 seats and dual doors. EX54(WVM668L) was delivered in May 1973, EX55 (WVM669L) in July of the same year, they were evaluated against Leyland National and Metro-Scania single deckers. They remained unique in the fleet, which later became Greater Manchester PTE.
Luton Airport purchased three O305G articulated buses in 1981 with Lex Services bodies based on Heuliez framing delivered in April 1981 as UBH394-6W, they were to AB35D layout with large amounts of standing and luggage space. As they were used 'Airside' and not on public roads they were left hand drive. They were the first rear-engined 'pusher' artics to enter service in the United Kingdom.
- Mercedes Benz O305 (ME1-ME41) Bus Datafile
- Tilley, Bruce (1985). Bus Fleets MTT Perth. Elizabeth, South Australia: Railmac Publications. p. 8. ISBN 0 949817 47 3.
- State Transit Authority Disposal Lists Mark 1 Australian Bus Fleet Lists
- Travers, Greg (1984). Bus Fleets UTA Sydney & Newcastle. Elizabeth, South Australia: Railmac Publications. pp. 12, 14. ISBN 0 949417 28 7 Check
- State Transit Authority Disposal Lists Mark 2 Australian Bus Fleet Lists
- Sydney Bus Fleets - Publication S1. Sydney: Historic Commercial Vehicle Association. 1994. p. 89.
- Travers, Greg (1982). From City to Suburb a fifty year journey. Sydney: Historic Commercial Vehicle Association. p. 192. ISBN 0 959601 62 7.
- State Transit Authority Disposal Lists Mark 3 Australian Bus Fleet Lists
- State Transit Authority Disposal Lists Artics Australian Bus Fleet Lists
- State Transit Authority Disposal Lists Mark 4s Australian Bus Fleet Lists
- Mk4 Datasheet Sydney Buses
- Canberra Mercedes O305 Fleet List ACT Bus Wiki
- Canberra Mercedes O305G Fleet List ACT Bus Wiki
- Admet Disposal Lists O305 rigid Australian Bus Fleet Lists
- Admet Disposal Lists O305 atric Australian Bus Fleet Lists
- Mercedes Benz 0305 Omnibus Society of NZ
- "Bus Lists on The Web".
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