The Bus In­dus­try Con­fed­er­a­tion 2017 an­nual con­fer­ence was packed with in­dus­try ex­perts shar­ing their thoughts on mo­bil­ity as a ser­vice and fu­ture Aus­tralian bus op­er­a­tions

The Bus In­dus­try Con­fed­er­a­tion 2017 an­nual con­fer­ence was jam packed with in­dus­try ex­perts shar­ing their thoughts on mo­bil­ity as a ser­vice and the fu­ture shape of bus op­er­a­tions in Aus­tralia


The crowd poured in as the first pre­sen­ta­tions of day one got un­der­way at the Ho­tel Grand Chan­cel­lor in Ho­bart. Tas­ma­nian Premier and key­note speaker Will Hodg­man opened the con­fer­ence, say­ing TasBus and the Bus In­dus­try Con­fed­er­a­tion (BIC) un­der­take a su­perb job ad­vo­cat­ing on be­half of bus op­er­a­tors and help­ing his gov­ern­ment un­der­stand the chal­lenges they face.

“We are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the strongest growth in tourism of any state in Aus­tralia and the num­ber of tour op­er­a­tors we have here has grown in line with this,” Hodg­man says. “Buses are our pri­mary mode of pub­lic trans­port here in Tas­ma­nia and we have about 140 con­tracted op­er­a­tors.

“We are re­design­ing Tas­ma­nian pub­licly funded bus ser­vices to en­sure ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive­ness for the next decade.

“In re­gard to the new con­tracts, this is be­ing done through ne­go­ti­a­tion rather than through a com­pet­i­tive ten­der process.

“This re­flects our on­go­ing com­mit­ment to work­ing con­struc­tively with the bus and coach in­dus­try.”

Next to take the stage was the voice of the quin­tes­sen­tial Aus­tralian car­toon char­ac­ter Blinky Bill, Robin Moore.

She charmed the crowd with mus­ings drawn from her time work­ing in the me­dia and later as a pro­fes­sional speaker.

Moore en­cour­aged del­e­gates to be mind­ful of their moods, to be pas­sion­ate about what they do, and not to take any neg­a­tiv­ity from work home with them.

“You need to be in­no­va­tive in or­der to keep your busi­ness suc­cess­ful, be­cause the way that peo­ple do things and the tech­nol­ogy we use is chang­ing so fast.”


The first topic cov­ered was about the fu­ture of mo­bil­ity and each speaker drew on their knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence to dis­cuss some of the newer trends within the trans­port sec­tor.

In his pre­sen­ta­tion, Mo­bil­ity as a Ser­vice Aus­tralia (MaaS) direc­tor An­drew Somers pro­vided ex­am­ples to demon­strate the bot­tom line of MaaS and what would mo­ti­vate a driver to sell their car and go for ‘free­dom of mo­bil­ity’.

He also touched on com­mer­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties, say­ing car own­er­ship will de­crease in the fu­ture and this will present tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for in­no­va­tive bus op­er­a­tors.

“Trans­port has evolved over time, but we can’t say with any ab­so­lute cer­tainty what it will change into,” he says.

There is a move away from as­set own­er­ship and to­wards a shar­ing econ­omy driven largely by tech­nol­ogy, as­set util­i­sa­tion, waste min­imi­sa­tion and the way that the younger gen­er­a­tion is con­sum­ing goods and ser­vices – where con­ve­nience is king.

The av­er­age cost of car own­er­ship is very ex­pen­sive and Somers thinks that if mo­bil­ity as a ser­vice is de­liv­ered well, car own­er­ship will quickly be­come con­sid­ered both out­dated and un­nec­es­sary.

In­tel­li­gent Trans­port Sys­tems Aus­tralia CEO Su­san Har­ris gave an over­view of in­tel­li­gent trans­port sys­tems cur­rently in op­er­a­tion around Aus­tralia and ex­plored the suc­cess fac­tors and next steps for Aus­tralia in deal­ing with ‘tra­di­tional trans­port mode in­ter­rup­tion’.

“We are on the verge of an ab­so­lutely mas­sive trans­for­ma­tion in trans­port and it’s an ex­cit­ing time to be in­volved in the in­dus­try,” she says. “We are the peak in­dus­try body for trans­port tech­nol­ogy in Aus­tralia and there is a lot of change tak­ing place.

Aus­tralia is one of the most ur­banised coun­tries in the world and that presents prob­lems with con­ges­tion but also presents op­por­tu­ni­ties. But we also have long dis­tances to travel to con­nect our ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas with our cities.

“We have more French-built Navya autonomous buses be­ing tri­alled in Aus­tralia than they have in France it­self, so in­ter­na­tion­ally peo­ple in this [trans­port tech­nol­ogy] field are look­ing at Aus­tralia with a lot of in­ter­est. We re­ally are hav­ing a go at this new trans­port tech­nol­ogy in Aus­tralia.

We are on the verge of an ab­so­lutely mas­sive trans­for­ma­tion in trans­port and it’s an ex­cit­ing time to be in­volved in the in­dus­try

“I think trans­for­ma­tion is a more pos­i­tive word than dis­rup­tion.

“We need our trans­port to be trans­formed if we are go­ing to survive and re­ally make our cities and com­mu­ni­ties live­able.

“We need a shared mo­bil­ity ser­vice that will get peo­ple out of their pri­vate cars.”

Trans­port for New South Wales (TfNSW) direc­tor road trans­port strat­egy Bryan Wil­ley laid out the NSW gov­ern­ment view of fu­ture mo­bil­ity with a high de­gree of fo­cus be­ing placed on the cus­tomer and how gov­ern­ment can be the en­abler for MaaS. Wil­ley also pro­vided an over­view of NSW’s Fu­ture Trans­port Plan 2056.

“Cre­at­ing the plan has been a chal­lenge; it’s not an easy thing to look 40 years ahead,” he says.

“Syd­ney will go from five mil­lion peo­ple to eight mil­lion peo­ple, so that’s about the size of Lon­don or New York to­day.”

He is also con­fi­dent that car own­er­ship will de­crease, re­duc­ing the need for so many car parks around our cities. That will po­ten­tially free up a lot of land.

Elec­tric autonomous ve­hi­cles can be in op­er­a­tion 23 hours a day and may not even need to be sta­tion­ary to be charged in 40 years’ time, so who will need a car park?

“It’s not just about car own­er­ship, it’s about the im­pact that will have on land use – both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive,” he says.

Wil­ley adds that data is key and TfNSW is cur­rently shar­ing its data with app de­vel­op­ers for the greater good of its cus­tomers.

GHD Con­sul­tants prin­ci­pal traf­fic and trans­port plan­ning Gra­ham McCabe ques­tioned if MaaS was re­ally just a space where providers such as Uber have no in­ter­est in pro­vid­ing a ser­vice to the en­tire com­mu­nity, but just want as many peo­ple us­ing their ser­vices as of­ten as pos­si­ble.

He raised a num­ber of so­cial is­sues in­clud­ing that MaaS is a priv­i­lege and only avail­able to those who can af­ford to pay.

“Pub­lic trans­port is very im­por­tant be­cause mo­bil­ity as a ser­vice will lead peo­ple to pick modes that are less sus­tain­able,” he says.

“Uber does want to re­place pub­lic trans­port, but in the end all we end up with is more con­ges­tion, un­less we have a good pub­lic trans­port sys­tem and en­hance it and build it.” ACA­DEMIC VIEW The al­ways en­gag­ing Monash Univer­sity Pro­fes­sor of Pub­lic Trans­port Gra­ham Cur­rie gave a spir­ited speech that re­in­forced the need to at last try and shape our cities rather than let pri­vate busi­ness do as it pleases, and for gov­ern­ments to take a long-term view of pub­lic trans­port de­liv­ery.

Cur­rie ex­plains why all the ev­i­dence sup­ports the view that pub­lic trans­port is still – and will re­main – the most ef­fi­cient form of shared mo­bil­ity, em­ploy­ing more than a hint of sar­casm in the process.

“I think this is a dan­ger­ous time and frankly we could all end up los­ing our busi­nesses if we don’t tackle this,” he says.

“Th­ese tran­sit start-ups could end

pub­lic trans­port; that’s what some peo­ple think.

“We are told that this ‘new mo­bil­ity’ will be so much bet­ter for ev­ery­body. There’s a lot of non­sense be­ing talked about to be frank.”

In terms of autonomous ve­hi­cles, he thinks it’s amaz­ing tech­nol­ogy but still very early days in its evo­lu­tion.

How­ever, the way it’s be­ing sold to us doesn’t re­flect that.

He takes is­sue with com­pa­nies mar­ket­ing them­selves as ‘shar­ing’.

Av­er­age ve­hi­cle oc­cu­pancy has ac­tu­ally de­creased in Aus­tralia and Cur­rie says autonomous ve­hi­cles will be to­tally empty clog­ging the roads as they re­po­si­tion them­selves to re­spond to de­mand.

In San Fran­cisco, Uber cars are empty – aside from the driver – 34 per cent of the time, only tak­ing up road space. A lot of th­ese cities sim­ply don’t have the road space to ac­com­mo­date all th­ese ex­tra cars, Cur­rie ex­plains.


For­mer Cana­dian Ur­ban Tran­sit As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Michael Roschlau spoke about how tra­di­tional bus busi­ness mod­els are likely to be dis­rupted, but per­haps this dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy is the key to the fu­ture.

Roschlau pro­vided an in­sight into the de­vel­op­ment of the re­gional plan for the Greater Toronto area.

He ex­plains that the new Toronto plan has less of a fo­cus on in­fras­truc­ture be­yond projects that

are al­ready un­der­way and more of a fo­cus on the ac­tual pro­vi­sion of ser­vices and the abil­ity for peo­ple to get around by com­bin­ing pub­lic trans­port modes and with­out a timetable.

Other speak­ers on day one in­cluded Queens­land Depart­ment of Trans­port and Main Roads deputy direc­tor gen­eral Matthew Long­land, who spoke about the gov­ern­ment’s fo­cus on pro­vid­ing mass tran­sit ser­vices and de­vel­op­ing com­ple­men­tary ser­vices such as on-de­mand.

TfNSW ser­vice de­liv­ery and as­set man­age­ment in­fras­truc­ture and ser­vices ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor John Karaboulis spoke about the on-de­mand bus ser­vice tri­als which re­sulted in eight pi­lots be­ing an­nounced in Au­gust this year.

Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor CEO Sal Petroc­citto gave the au­di­ence an up­date on what his team is work­ing on in re­gards to the bus in­dus­try at the mo­ment.

“You are an im­por­tant sec­tor to us and the Bus Fire Evac­u­a­tion Pro­to­cols and a Stan­dard School Bus Light Sys­tem are two ini­tia­tives that have been signed off on and the Bus In­dus­try Con­fed­er­a­tion is now start­ing to work on those two projects,” he says.

The Bus Fire Evac­u­a­tion Pro­to­cols project will see driv­ers trained on how to re­duce the risk of bus fires.

The Stan­dard School Bus Light Sys­tem project will see spec­i­fi­ca­tions on school bus lights and sig­nage re­viewed across all states, with a view to iden­ti­fy­ing a na­tional stan­dard.

Once the of­fi­cial pro­ceed­ings from day were through, it was off to the scenic Glen Al­byn Es­tate for an Ok­to­ber­fest-style din­ner.


Ke­o­lis mar­ket­ing in­no­va­tion and ser­vices ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Lau­rent Kocher was key­note speaker on day two and he spoke about con­nect­ing travel pat­terns and needs.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant to sim­plify the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence,” he says.

“We see mo­bil­ity as be­com­ing a more cus­tomer-driven mar­ket, so we have to think more like a pas­sen­ger.”

The pre­sen­ta­tion by Tran­sit Sys­tems Group CEO Clint Feuerd­herdt on day two was a stand­out as he ex­plained how the largest in­dus­trial es­tate in the south­ern hemi­sphere (western Syd­ney), with 20,000 peo­ple work­ing in the es­tate, had no PT ac­cess. The com­pany is now look­ing to fill that gap with an on-de­mand trail. He says putting trans­port in the right lo­ca­tion un­locks op­por­tu­nity. In his pre­sen­ta­tion, he pro­vided some bus busi­ness ideas for pro­vid­ing buses as a ser­vice.

“If our cities are grow­ing, why is our pa­tron­age fall­ing? I think it’s

The num­ber one thing is to pro­vide a ser­vice that the cus­tomer tells you they want, not what you think they want

be­cause some of our ser­vices are not in the right place,” he says. “If we want to re­main rel­e­vant, I think we need to see our­selves as ‘buses as a ser­vice’.

“The num­ber one thing is to pro­vide a ser­vice that the cus­tomer tells you they want, not what you think they want.”

Shadow Min­is­ter for In­fras­truc­ture, Trans­port, Cities and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment An­thony Al­banese spoke about the im­por­tance of get­ting it right when it comes to in­fras­truc­ture and ser­vice de­liv­ery.

“I want to ad­dress some of the mis­takes of the re­cent past that have worked against the de­vel­op­ment of prop­erly in­te­grated trans­port sys­tems, par­tic­u­larly in our cities,” he says. “Ad­vo­cacy by the Bus In­dus­try Con­fed­er­a­tion has en­sured that all po­lit­i­cal par­ties are now talk­ing about cities and the way we move around them, even if some of the talk is not matched by ac­tion or in­vest­ment.”

The BIC Na­tional Achiever Award for 2017 went to of Nat Muir of War­ren Bus Ser­vice in Man­jimup, Western Aus­tralia.

Muir was iden­ti­fied by his peers as hav­ing the pas­sion and drive to take the bus in­dus­try to the next level.

Par­al­lell ses­sions then started and headed over to the tech­ni­cal work­shop and sup­pli­ers fo­rum, chaired by BIC vice chair­man Steve Heanes.

A lot of the tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions work that BIC has been do­ing was dis­cussed, in­clud­ing Euro 6 emis­sion stan­dard in­tro­duc­tion, with a po­ten­tial in­tro­duc­tion date of 2019-2020 mooted.

The BIC has pro­posed that buses and coaches be al­lowed to be built and pre-plated with­out seats. Once the seats are fit­ted, the bus could then be fully and cor­rectly plated in ac­cor­dance with the fi­nal seat­ing ar­range­ments.

Day three saw BIC ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Michael Apps out­line the key pri­or­i­ties for the as­so­ci­a­tion mov­ing for­ward, which very broadly in­clude en­gag­ing with state and fed­eral gov­ern­ment with the aim of get­ting bet­ter pol­icy out­comes for the bus and coach in­dus­try, as well as work­ing on a huge num­ber of tech­ni­cal and in­dus­trial re­la­tions is­sues (via APTIA) that af­fect op­er­a­tors.

Guest speaker on day three was opera singer Ge­off Knight, who bat­tled his way out of gang in­volve­ment in New Zealand to re­alise his po­ten­tial as a singer and mo­ti­va­tional speaker. His mes­sage re­in­forced the need to sup­port peo­ple both in and out­side of the work­place and help those who may be strug­gling to re­alise their goals.

The an­nual bus auc­tion took place at the Iveco Big Arvo Out and the Vol­gren En­dura School Bus was pur­chased by Jamie and An­ton Klemm of Sap­phire Coast Coach Lines from Pam­bula on the South Coast of NSW. BIC re­ceives the dol­lar dif­fer­ence be­tween the auc­tion pur­chase price and the ac­tual cost of build­ing the bus. The pro­ceeds from the sale are es­sen­tially a do­na­tion to in­dus­try, and the BIC – as the cus­to­di­ans of that do­na­tion – al­lo­cate those funds to sup­port bus busi­ness suc­cess in Aus­tralia.

Top: Tran­sit Sys­tems Group CEO Clint Feuerd­herdt Above: BIC ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Michael Apps Right: NHVR CEO Sal Petroc­citto Op­po­site: Iveco Big Arvo Out bus auc­tion; BIC Na­tional Achiever Nat Muir (cen­tre); Shadow trans­port min­is­ter An­thony Al­banese

Top: The wel­come re­cep­tion was packed Left: Kiwi opera singer and mo­ti­va­tional speaker Ge­off Knight; For­mer Cana­dian Ur­ban Tran­sit As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Michael Roschlau Op­po­site Top L to R: TfNSW direc­tor road trans­port strat­egy Bryan Wil­ley; Monash...

Top to Bot­tom: One of the two panel ses­sions; Guest speaker Robin Moore; Tas­ma­nian Premier Will Hodg­man

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