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
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