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All aboard the Open Top Bus!

Over the past few weeks, a vintage Cardiff Bus open top bus, which belongs to the Cardiff Transport Preservation Group has been restored in the Cardiff Bus depot. 

Bus 360 has been painted in the classic tramway colours of maroon and cream that it once wore, and will be in our care over the summer.  In order to celebrate its return, this classic bus will run between Cardiff city centre and Cardiff Bay on selected days in July and August, starting this weekend!

Find out when this bus will run by viewing the timetable here.

Open top history

Buses 359 and 360 arrived in Cardiff in February 1979 and entered service soon after.  They were in standard orange and white fleet colours. The intention was that 359 and 360 would only be used as open-toppers in the June to August period. Their first duties as such were to the 1979 Epsom Derby for three days in early June 1979. When they returned to Cardiff they had their “lids” put back on.

The convertible open toppers were usually de-roofed during the Spring. The roof sections would be hoisted off the buses at Roath depot, and remained suspended from the roof girders in the garage for the season. In their place a shallow windscreen and handrails would be bolted to the vehicle. The roof section was simply bolted into place on the bus and relevant wiring connected up for lighting.

In July 1980 standard VRT 343 was painted in the old Cardiff tramway livery of maroon and cream with a grey roof and gold lining, to celebrate 75 years of Cardiff being a City and 25 years as a Capital. It regained its orange colour in March 1983 shortly after both the convertible open-toppers 359 and 360 received a similar colour scheme, but with maroon roof areas. This was to celebrate 100 years of Municipal transport across the UK.

Both these vehicles lost their special tramway colours in May 1986 and gained standard orange and white livery once again.

In June 1992 the two convertible open toppers 359 & 360 were given a revised livery incorporating large areas of white, not unlike the colours carried by open top Guy Arabs 424 and 434.

1998 was the last year that Cardiff Bus operated any open top bus tours. 359 and 360 were duly withdrawn in January 1999 and sold.

359 was passed to Vintage Yellow Buses, Bournemouth in the March, and 360 was passed to the Bath Bus Co. for use on Bath Sightseeing tours for a number of years.

By November 2002, 359 was passed to Hoare of Chepstow, and often attended events like The Derby and is frequently stored at Winkleigh in North Devon. It usually regains its roof.

Bus 360 later passed to Solent Blueline (902), who used it for a special service in the New Forest along with an ex NBC VRT. It was then deployed on the Southampton Docks sightseeing tour and was spotted on the Isle of Wight carrying fleet number 992. Its roof was known to have been scrapped by June 2007.

By 2008 it was passed to Classic Southdown Omnibuses and was sent to Blackpool for renovation. It was due to be used on a new open-top bus service in Bournemouth in 2008. However, this only lasted one season and the bus eventually turned up in Weston-Super-Mare for the 2012 season with Crosville Motor Services, and was found to be in immaculate order. It returned to Classic Bus North West by 2013.

In 2014, 360 was acquired by the Cardiff Transport Preservation Group where it remains to this day.

Find out more about the Cardiff Transport Preservation Group and their fleet of buses here.

June 2017 - during restoration at Cardiff Bus depot

June 2017 - Bus 360 is painted maroon and cream at Cardiff Bus depot

July 2017 - 360 painted and prior to vinyls being applied

July 2017 - vinyls being applied