The Monument to Russia’s Favorite Bus LiAZ-677

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On Saturday August 29, 2015, in the suburban town of Likino-Dulyovo, 98 kilometers northeast of Moscow, a new monument was unveiled. It’s true size model of a yellow bus hoisted on top of a concrete platform. The bus is LiAZ-677 and the monument was installed in the square near the Centre for Development of Children and Young People "Sputnik". On the base is a memorial tablet with the words “Veteran of the Road”.

LiAZ-677 was former Soviet Union’s most famous bus. It ran on all urban roads all over the union for more than 30 years, and gained fans all over the nation. The bus was manufactured by Likinskiy Avtobusnyi Zavod, Russian for “Likino Bus Plant”, or LiAZ in short — a bus manufacturing company based on Likino-Dulyovo, the town where the monument is located.

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Where else but in Soviet Russia will you see a bus on a pedestal? Photo credit

Likino Bus Plant wasn’t always a bus factory. It began its life rather differently — as a wood processing plant called LOZOD (Likino Engineered Wood Test Factory) in 1937. The plant produced pressed wood products, as well as wood particle boards. In 1944 the factory decided that it had enough of carpentry and started working with metals, because metal is harder and shinier than wood. The factory was renamed LiMZ (Likino Machinery Factory) to reflect the change, and it began producing small machinery like power saws, portable generators, and equipment for harvesting. Fifteen years passed and LiMZ decided that it was time for another upgrade. So in 1959, it abandoned its puny metal factory and started assembling passenger buses for ZiL, a major Russian automobile and heavy equipment manufacturer. They also changed their name, this time calling themselves LiAZ.

But LiAZ was not easily satisfied. Before long, it started thinking — “instead of making buses for ZiL, why not make our own?”. In 1962, the first prototype of LiAZ-677 was ready. The following year, the prototype was demonstrated to the State Commission for automation and mechanization of the USSR, who gave a positive assessment of the bus. Encouraged, LiAZ released another prototype and tested a few buses in the area of Sochi.

The bus finally hit the roads in 1967. For the next 29 years, LiAZ produced 194,183 buses making it one of the most successful product of the Soviet automotive industry. It became a symbol of its time and the most familiar sight on Russian roads. LiAZ-677 ran on all the major cities of the Soviet Union, and until recently it was the most common urban passenger bus.

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A historic photo of Yakutsk, the capital city of the Sakha Republic, Russia, showing several LiAZ-677 buses on the road. Circa 1977. Photo credit

Despite its ubiquity and popularity, LiAZ-677 was not a comfortable bus, nor was it efficient. Its engine had an enormous appetite for gasoline, consuming 35 liters of petrol per hundred kilometers. Because of design flaw in the passenger compartment heating system, the interior of the bus would fill with fumes. Drivers complained about noise in the driver's seat, and during the summer months the engine would run excessively hot. The transmission also made a characteristically loud noise similar to the “sound of empty bottles”. But it had a large capacity of 110 passengers which was useful during rush hours. One Reddit user describes his experiences of travelling on LiAZ-677 as squeezing himself “with a hundred other poor souls into this crowded coffin.”

Nevertheless, LiAZ-677 became a Soviet icon. Today, a number of monuments dedicated to LiAZ-677 can be found in several towns and cities around the former USSR. All of these monuments features the bus —  either a real specimen or a replica — hoisted on a pedestal.

The factory no longer manufactures LiAZ-677. Production stopped in 1996. Now LiAZ 5256, which began production in 1986, is the most common model of public bus in Russia.

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A 1981 photo of a LiAZ-667 bus on a Moscow road. Photo credit

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The newly installed LiAZ-667 monument in Likino-Dulyovo Photo credit

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The newly installed LiAZ-667 monument in Likino-Dulyovo Photo credit

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A LiAZ-667 monument in the city of Rostov region Gukovo. Photo credit

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A LiAZ-667 monument in Togliatti (Samara region). Photo credit

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A LiAZ-667 monument in Svetlogorsk (Gomel, Belarus). Photo credit

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A LiAZ-667 monument in Volochyok Vishny (Tver region) Photo credit

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A LiAZ-667 monument in Samara. Photo credit

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The interior of bus LiAZ-667 with view towards the back. Photo credit

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The interior of bus LiAZ-667 with view towards the front. Photo credit

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The drivers seat, steering wheel and dashboard on the LiAZ-667. Photo credit

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A model of a LiAZ-667. Photo credit

Sources: Russian Wikipedia / English Wikipedia / TR.ru

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1 comment:

  1. Very cool bus. There are also some other Russian/Soviet Buses I really like as well: The PAZ 672 & the LAZ 695 come to mind.

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