The most famous ticket machine on London’s buses may have been the Gibson used by London bus conductors from 1953 to 1993, but the Almex E designed for OPO buses ran it a creditable second with approximately twenty years of service. The last of them came off at the end of 1987, and indeed had come into their own once the accompanying self-service ticket machinery had been abandoned in 1979.
They issued a little square ticket with a resounding ‘ptatka!’ sound made possible only by the machines’ being powered by an electric current; otherwise, a lever had to be fitted to snap the ticket out manually. A couple of London Transport garages issued their conductors with Almex Es as an experiment, the most familiar in my experience being Norbiton, whose 65 and 71 were treated during 1983. The ticket on the left is from box 5880, which at the time of issue (Friday 26th June 1985) belonged to Southall and was allocated to route 232. The stage number (10) is next, which for this route was Southall Broadway. Underneath you get the usual London Transport ownership markings, and then upside down is the fare code (A), which that year was the child fare of 15p, and beside that the ticket number (9004). When I was a kid, we used to consider tickets that added up to 21 lucky, and there were fairly reasonable odds of getting one with tickets that only ran from 0000 to 9999.
This ticket is from a batch of Almex Es that were actually acquired from Strathclyde Transport in Glasgow, and while broadly similar to the traditional version could be set to display part of the date – in this case 18th October (1985). Box 7100 (showing the last three figures inherited from its original owner) was allocated to Victoria garage for the 39.
An unusual postscript revealed to me recently by former London bus driver and California expatriate Malcolm Allan, who was kind enough to send me the final picture in today’s post, is that some of the Almex Es found new owners once redundant from London Buses. This one is seen fitted to a Long Beach Transit GMC, and is unusually mounted pointing down, baseplate and all! The driver would issue the ticket and then hand it to the boarding passenger.
Thanks to Malcolm for providing this subject matter – readers are more than welcome to send me pictures and information that you think might be worthy of inclusion in these pages.