Springbok Bus Roots

1950s Motor Buses & Trackless Trams of Cape Town, South Africa


I drew my first City Tramways trackless tram overhead map, from memory, in April 1966. On my original map I also noted whether the switches were hand or electrically operated. I am indebted to the help that Rollo Dickson and Peter Coates have provided to enable me to complete the map. I have shown a return loop in Upper Darling Street that used the small triangle at Castle Bridge to return to Hanover Street.  Does anyone out there remember this loop; if not I will remove it.

As with any trackless tram system the overhead map better reflects the system if shown on more than one map at different periods during its lifespan. In Cape Town the system could be broadly separated into the pre 1938 Ransomes era comprising only routes 1-9 and the post 1938 era when the system was completed.  Pre 1938 there were no trackless tram operations on Strand, Riebeeck, Castle, Buitenkant or St Georges Streets – all city termini being on Adderley Street.  7 Gardens worked in and outbound services up Plein Street. As the system expanded outbound services on Plein Street were re-directed via Castle and Buitenkant Streets and the outbound overhead in Plein Street was removed.  Over the years some streamlining of the overhead took place with redundant sections being removed.

Fleet Note:  Cape Trams records that in 1960 the trackless tram fleet stood at 139 out of an original total of 146.  This would suggest that the fleet had been diminished by the loss of five single deckers to motor bus conversions and two Sunbeams that have been recorded as having burnt out.  The figure of 139 will also include 8 or so mothballed single deckers in the Wynberg tram sheds.  In 1961 there was a peak requirement of 115 trackless trams.  Replacement of trackless trams during 1963-64 was met by 90 new Leyland Titan PD3/5s, 21 ex London Transport RT/RTLs and 3 Daimler CVG6s transferred from Golden Arrow.  Further RT/RTLs arrived in quantity immediately following the demise of the trackless trams.