The year 2017 saw many highs and lows in the bus in­dus­try. A num­ber of an­niver­saries were cel­e­brated by op­er­a­tors, awards were re­ceived, and fo­rums on all as­pects of busi­ness were held

ABC (Australia) - - CONTENTS - Ran­dall Johnston.

There was no short­age of news and some quite mon­u­men­tal an­nounce­ments made within the bus and coach in­dus­try last year. There can be no doubts that op­er­a­tors, sup­pli­ers and state tran­sit au­thor­i­ties are start­ing to recog­nise the shift in terms of how peo­ple con­sume goods and ser­vices and es­pe­cially in the trans­port sec­tor.

There are now driver­less ve­hi­cle tri­als in ev­ery state and ter­ri­tory in Australia and in Christchurch, New Zealand.

We are years away from hav­ing the le­gal and phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture to have these things shar­ing road space with driver-con­trolled ve­hi­cles, but that doesn’t seem to be slow­ing the hype.

There were a whole heap of ac­qui­si­tions through­out 2017 as the mum-and-dad-type op­er­a­tors re­tire or move on, al­low­ing shrewd op­er­a­tors with enough cap­i­tal to make some smart moves strate­gi­cally. Op­er­a­tors with the abil­ity to do so are also start­ing to look at on-de­mand ser­vices and ways they can pro­vide de­mand-re­spon­sive ser­vices to fill ex­ist­ing pub­lic trans­port ‘black holes’.

The year started off with some big moves, with the Ke­o­lis Downer’s bid to op­er­ate New­cas­tle Trans­port ser­vices ac­cepted. Volvo Bus Australia hosted the of­fi­cial launch of the Volvo B8R and Volvo B8RLE chas­sis in April-May and there were a lot of other new prod­uct launches from a wide range of man­u­fac­tur­ers, mostly in the sec­ond half of the year.

Mar­copolo an­nounced that it had ac­quired the re­main­ing 25 per cent stake in Volgren. Mar­copolo’s agree­ment with Volgren to pur­chase the re­main­der of the com­pany fol­lows the Brazil­ian com­pany’s 75 per cent ma­jor­ity in­vest­ment in De­cem­ber 2011.

Hun­dreds of pub­lic bus routes in Syd­ney were pri­va­tised in a move that did not es­cape crit­i­cism.

The 2017 Aus­trala­sia Bus and Coach Expo on the Gold Coast was a huge event and while we will have to wait un­til 2019 for the next one, we are all look­ing for­ward to the joint Aus­tralian Bus In­dus­try Con­fed­er­a­tion and New Zealand Bus & Coach As­so­ci­a­tion an­nual con­fer­ence in Cairns this year.

While there was plenty hap­pen­ing in 2017, I think most would agree that the progress and ad­vances that the in­dus­try is mak­ing will reach a whole new level in 2018, writes

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