A fresh start for 2017

There’s noth­ing like a fresh start to the year to make you won­der what might be achieved in 2017, writes Ran­dall John­ston

ABC (Australia) - - AT THE HELM -

Bus man­u­fac­tur­ers are look­ing at new and cheaper ways to trans­port peo­ple and that is go­ing to be vi­tal mov­ing for­ward into a fu­ture where pub­lic trans­port be­comes seam­less.

Au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles will be trans­port­ing peo­ple both in a pri­vate ca­pac­ity and in large groups one day, with driver­less bus tri­als in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory an­nounced at the dawn of 2017.

But don’t pop the cham­pers just yet, be­cause we have a whole new year of BIC events to keep best prac­tice and good old-fash­ioned com­mu­ni­ca­tion alive when we need it most in our in­dus­try.

We’ve got spe­cial­ist bus re­viewer Steve Skin­ner tak­ing the Volgren Endura for a run around the cliffs of Gipp­s­land. She rides fair and smoothly as it turns out, and re­gional Vic­to­rian op­er­a­tor Rob Wise let us in on a few de­sign se­crets that he man­aged to throw into the mix.

You’ve got to be happy with your new bus, right? There can’t be many nicer places to live in Aus­tralia than the ru­ral town of Won­thaggi, on the Bass Coast south- east of Mel­bourne.

Ross Wise has a lovely new house on a cou­ple of acres on the edge of town, which dou­bles as the de­pot for his new school/ charter Sca­nia/Volgren Endura bus. Wise is a Volgren man and says he prides him­self on buying an Aus­tralian-built prod­uct ( p40).

It takes guts, de­ter­mi­na­tion and a whole lot of brains to steer your busi­ness in the right di­rec­tion at the right time.

What puts food on the ta­ble one minute could be all but a dis­tant mem­ory the next, so you need to ex­i­ble and not cling to the ‘ glory days’.

This is pre­cisely what one re­gional Vic­to­rian op­er­a­tor had to do when V/Line Hol­i­days dis­ap­peared af­ter V/line it­self was pri­va­tised. What once pro­vided a steady stream of tour pas­sen­gers into Vic­to­ria’s re­gional ar­eas was no longer in place, and tour op­er­a­tors had to ad­just ac­cord­ingly.

“We started run­ning V/Line hol­i­day tours in the 1980s and we ran those suc­cess­fully un­til 2000,” founder Lawrie Thom­spn tells ABC.

V/Line was pri­va­tised around 2000 and, to the dis­ap­point­ment of a num­ber of re­gional Vic­to­rian coach tour op­er­a­tors, the V/line hol­i­day’s ini­tia­tive was laid to rest, with the last brochure be­ing dis­trib­uted to tourism providers in 2001.

These tours proved to be highly suc­cess­ful and the ven­ture beneted from the state mar­ket­ing dol­lars be­ing used to pro­mote the wider Vic­to­ria re­gion do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally; by hav­ing ded­i­cated train ser­vices to link up with re­gional coach op­er­a­tions ( p34).

Last year went just and fast as it came and, with a change in Prime Min­is­ter, a cou­ple of state trans­port ministers and even a few in­fra­struc­ture fails thrown in for good mea­sure, we kept our­selves well en­ter­tained. The year 2016 saw many highs and lows in the bus in­dus­try. As ex­pected, a num­ber of an­niver­saries were cel­e­brated by op­er­a­tors, awards were re­ceived, and fo­rums on all as­pects of busi­ness were held.

The year started off with a bang with Higer Bus and Coach in Aus­tralia be­com­ing a part of au­to­mo­tive and lo­gis­tics com­pany Au­to­mo­tive Hold­ings Group.

Sit back, re­lax and en­joy our Year in Re­view fea­ture ( p26) cov­er­ing all the events that changed the in­dus­try for bet­ter or worse in 2016.

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