Until the end of 2023, ACT Bus will be revealing the Top 15 buses of all time in the Canberra / ACTION Bus fleet (determined by number in the fleet).

At number 4, is the AEC Reliance with 120 vehicles.

First in service: Bus 001 (C.001), 1956
Last withdrawn: Bus 140, January 1978
Years in service: 23

In 1953, it was proposed that the Canberra Bus Service should introduce one man operations on the buses. At that time, all bus services had a conductor and a driver, and eliminating the conductors would reduce costs. But in order to bring in one man operations, new buses would be required.

An initial order for six AEC Reliances with Commonwealth Engineering bodies and AH470 engine was placed in September 1955. These buses would have underfloor engines and could be operated with either a one or two man crew. A new number plate allocation was also assigned to coincide with these new buses – initially ‘C’ plates starting from C.001 were used, although the series would later be converted to a ‘ZIB’ prefix.

A total of 120 Reliances would be purchased over 12 years from 1956 to 1968, including ZIB-100 in 1965 which was fitted with a Coach body for charter work. During this period 11 Leyland Leopard buses – which were a similar mid-engined bus – were also purchased, but the AEC Reliance was preferred over the Leyland.

The last 28 of these vehicles were fitted with the larger AH505 engine, which would also be used in its successor bus, the AEC Swift.

DeliveredBodyFleet numbers TotalWithdrawn
1956-64Commonwealth Engineering001-014, 016-053, 066-073601966-77
1962 & 1965Freighter054-064, 100121976-77
1965-66Pressed Metal Corporation076-078, 091-099, 101-108201976-77
1967-68Athol Hedges (AH505)111-120, 124, 126-142281977-78

The first withdrawals from this class occurred in 1966, and the last bus was withdrawn from regular service in 1978 – replaced by a MAN SL200. Buses 050 and 112 were retained as part of the ACTION Heritage Fleet, although 112 was later disposed.


📷 Ian Lynas
📷 Ian Cooper

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This page was last updated on 20 January 2024