Teeside OMO remembered – 50 years on

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Seen in 1971 is this early dual door Teesside Northern Counties Daimler Fleetline designed for one man operation. THE TEESSIDE 500 GROUP COLLECTION

The 50th anniversary of a municipal operator controversially introducing one person operated double-decker buses is being commemorated by a group welcoming help in its mission to preserve Teesside’s Transport history.

The 500 Group, has been compiling information on the turbulent story of the buses getting the go-ahead with TMT (Teesside Municipal Transport). Group Trustee and Stagecoach North East driver Chris Hall said: “This was a significant development at a time when things were very different to today.”

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TMT was formed in 1968 as an amalgamation of Stockton and Middlesbrough Corporations and the Teesside Railless Traction Board. The operator faced severe staff shortages, not helped by a policy of refusing to employ for a third time any drivers who had worked for the operator on two previous occasions.

Under the 1968 Transport Act, the Government would pay 25% of the purchase price of new double-deckers to a specification including dual doors, enabling them to be, in the parlance of the day, ‘one-man operated.’

Unions at TMT bitterly opposed such vehicles, so when Leyland Atlantean Park Royal bodied demonstrator MTF655G arrived for a week’s trial in March 1969 it had to be operated with a conductor. TMT did however take delivery of 10 ‘bus grant’ double-deckers the next month in the form of 10 Northern Counties-bodied Daimler Fleetlines with Northern Counties H44/27D bodywork, designed for driver-only operation. They were registered MXG228-237G.

This Northern Counties-bodied Dennis Loline, now part of the Teesside 500 Group fleet, was exhibited at the 1958 Commercial Motor Show. THE TEESSIDE 500 GROUP COLLECTION

Again these were used with conductors until finally agreement was reached and the buses operated with just the driver on two routes from 5 January 1970, prompting complaints to the local paper that the new system added 10 minutes to their journeys.

If you have any photos or memories of Teesside buses the Teesside 500 Group would love to hear from you. www.teesside500group.co.uk

The Group was formed in 1988 for people interested in Cleveland Transit and its predecessors, being named after the fleet number of a Southdown Queen Mary Leyland PD3/4 in the Transit fleet used for special events.

Today the group has six local vehicles in its fleet: JDC599, a 1958 Dennis Loline new to Middlesbrough Corporation; JVN40E a Leyland PD2/Roe delivered to TRTB in 1967; TMT Daimler Fleetline/Northern Counties JDC544L; Bristol VR/Northern Counties RDC106R which was new to Cleveland Transit in 1977, and; Volvo Olympians M223SVN and R833OVN, both new to Stagecoach Transit.

Besides attending rallies the group holds its own event, the Teesside Running Day based at Middlesbrough’s historic transporter bridge. This year’s event takes place on 26 April 2020 and some surprises are promised!