The name Madge has been synonymous with “buses” in Manawatu since 1920.
The first bus put into service was a Model T Ford known as a charabanc (French for “carriage with benches”). It had an extended chassis, a canvas top, side curtains, and doors on one side. Up to 12 passengers were carried in four rows of seats across the vehicle, which did not have a central aisle.
Today, customers travel in comfort with features such as media/DVD players, intercom systems, air-conditioning and reclining seats with a range of coaches including Volvo, Scania, MAN and Mercedes Benz buses.
By the end of World War II, Madge’s fleet had grown to 20 buses. In 1956, the cost of a new bus was $12,000; today a new bus would cost as much as $600,000. Their depots have occupied several sites around Palmerston North. Their first garage was located on the corner of Rangitikei and Featherston streets. The second site was in Maire Street, and the third in Rangitikei Street.
It is said that while touring New Zealand by bus Madge Motors was the influence behind comedian Barry Humphries character Dame Edna Everage’s sidekick “Madge Allsop”. This could well be true considering Madge was married to fictitious character Douglas Hugh Allsop, who ran a tourist bus company in Palmerston North!
In 1977, Madge Motors at the time owned by the Smiley Family was bought by Allan Motors, a company owned by John Allan who had taken it over from his father Melvyn. At the time of purchase, Madge Coachlines was operating out of its premises in Dahlia Street. In 1979 Rutherford Bus Co. was purchased by Madge Coachlines, Rutherford’s had been servicing the Feilding Community since 1948
In 1995 Bay Coachlines (renamed Transbay Coaches) in Whakatane was acquired then followed by the purchase of Palmerston North Coachlines from the Fuller family in 1999. In 2007 Ranui Buses in Opotiki was added to the group followed by the acquisition of Unique Holiday Tours in 2008. Further growth saw the acquisition of Bayline Coaches in 2015 and in 2018 a new depot opened operating Metlink Urban Services for the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
To establish one single brand and bring the various fleets together the companies were merged and since 2001 have operated under the UZABUS brand, the fleet vehicles are now distinguished by their white colour, distinctive Uzabus location marker and a variety of catch taglines.
Today, UZABUS has a staff of over 350 and a fleet of around 300 vehicles servicing Manawatu, Horowhenua, Rangitikei, Bay of Plenty and the greater Wellington area on a daily basis.
Every day, Uzabus transports thousands of passengers on School, SESTA, Urban and Charter services while Unique Holiday Tours, a veteran Coach Tour Company with over 30 years’ experience give New Zealanders the opportunity to truly experience both the North and South Island with guided Coach tours.