RLH Bus Information Centre

Second Lives

Hawaii

The Bernice B.P. Bishop Museum (of Hawaiian history) in Honolulu had a fleet of four RLHs (RLH 26, RLH 33, RLH 36 and RLH 47) in service for over 10 years. They were sold from the UK in January 1972. A selection of photos in Hawaii can be found on the individual pages of these buses, referenced above.
photo The four buses wait at Harwich for the ship to Hawaii. Photo by the London Bus Preservation Group.
The buses were used daily all year round on a free narrated tour service to transport tourists from the main hotel district of Waikiki. They visited the Kings Alley, Mission Houses Museum (downtown) and the museum ship Falls of Clyde (a four mast sailing ship). They finished at the Bishop Museum (also with a planetarium and heritage theatre), a little way out of the city to the south. Conductors did not collect fares, the service being free to those holding tickets for the attractions.

The RLHs were also sometimes used for community and charity work, and on one occasion in the annual Aloha Day parade (bedecked in fresh tropical flowers). One bus was used in a Hawaii Five-O television series episode, where it was used as the getaway.

Note that the buses all seem to have had the H removed from the fleet number on both the bonnet plate and the cabside, making them 'RL's!

In Hawaii the licence plates are issued permanently being updated yearly with a decal, the plate number is only changed if the original is lost, damaged or stolen.

photo
All four RLHs had previously been London Country green buses, but were painted red prior to export. Photographs show that the radiator triangle was the green type still on RLH 33 and RLH 47; although the other two must have been changed to the matching red (and blue) variant.

A report from a passenger in the later years suggests they were poorly maintained by this time; for instance RLH 33 was said to have a bad engine knock, rough transmission, oil leak and poor suspension. The bodywork also started showing signs of corrosion, a particular problem in Hawaii due to the high humidity.

In November 1982, RLH 47 was crushed by a falling (Banyan?) tree bough and withdrawn. Termites are a problem in the islands and this may have been the cause.

It is believed that RLH 36 was used as a source of spare parts in addition to RLH 47, to keep the final two running a little longer.

By 1984 the remains of all the RLHs was sold for scrap (to John Webbers Kailua Auto Wrecker).

Sources of information and photographs:

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