Rapid change

While there was plenty hap­pen­ing in 2016, I think most would agree that the progress and ad­vances the in­dus­try is mak­ing went to a whole new level in 2017, writes

ABC (Australia) - - AT THE HELM - Ran­dal­lJohn­ston

There can be no doubts that op­er­a­tors, sup­pli­ers and state tran­sit au­thor­i­ties are start­ing to recog­nise the shift in terms of what cus­tomers ex­pect from trans­port providers in the com­mu­nity. There was no short­age of news and some big an­nounce­ments made within the bus and coach in­dus­try in 2017.

We are still at least half a decade away from hav­ing driver­less ve­hi­cles shar­ing ac­tual street space with tra­di­tional ve­hi­cles, but there are now au­ton­o­mous tri­als al­ready hap­pen­ing all around Australia.

There were count­ess op­er­a­tor buy­outs as the mum-and-dad­type op­er­a­tors re­lin­quish their hold­ings to the ma­jor play­ers in the mar­ket. The largest op­er­a­tors are in­creas­ingly show­ing in­ter­est in on-de­mand ser­vices and ways they can pro­vide de­mand-re­spon­sive ser­vices to fill pub­lic trans­port gaps.

The year started off with some big an­nounce­ments to shake up the in­dus­try. Hun­dreds of pub­lic bus routes in Syd­ney were pri­va­tised, which was not to ev­ery­one’s lik­ing. Ke­o­lis Downer’s bid to op­er­ate New­cas­tle Trans­port ser­vices was ac­cepted; Mar­copolo an­nounced that it had ac­quired the re­main­ing 25 per cent stake in Volgren; Volvo Bus Australia hosted the of­fi­cial launch of the Volvo B8R and Volvo B8RLE chas­sis in April-May; the Aus­trala­sia Bus and Coach Expo on the Gold Coast was a huge event; and there were a lot of other new prod­uct launches through­out the year.

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. Check out all the news and events that shaped our in­dus­try in 2017 on page 24.

Big things are hap­pen­ing on the prod­uct side of things this year, so we thought we’d get started with a new Euro­pean con­tender.

The Van Hool EX 16H has landed in the Aus­tralian mar­ket. Tech­ni­cal Writer Paul Aldridge puts it through its paces ( p38).

While un­der­way in some metro ar­eas al­ready, de­mand- re­spon­sive trans­port tri­als are now also com­ing to the re­gions ( p44).

“There were count­ess buy­outs as mum-and­dad-type op­er­a­tors re­lin­quish their hold­ings to ma­jor play­ers”

Monthly new bus de­liv­er­ies have re­mained steady through­out Australia re­cently. Turn to page 54 to see our ex­clu­sive bus de­liv­ery data for the month of De­cem­ber at the back of this mag­a­zine to check out the lat­est Aus­tralian bus and coach de­liv­ery in­for­ma­tion – and see who is up­grad­ing their fleet as we kick on into what is sure to be a busy new year. En­joy!

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