The first 12-speed ZF Traxon trans­mis­sion to be in­stalled on a bus in Aus­tralia is at the heart of an or­der of 31 new MC50 coaches for lux­ury op­er­a­tor Mur­rays.


High-end op­er­a­tor Mur­rays has re­ceived its lat­est BCI coach re­cently, but it’s spe­cial be­cause of its lat­est ZF trans­mis­sion. ABC mag­a­zine was stoked to be in­vited to the of­fi­cial hand­ing-over cer­e­mony in Syd­ney, re­cently. Fabian Cot­ter re­ports.

THE FIRST 12-SPEED ZF Traxon bus trans­mis­sion in­stalled in Aus­tralia has been de­liv­ered to east coast lux­ury coach op­er­a­tor Mur­rays, fit­ted to a pre­mium BCI 13.2m ve­hi­cle con­structed with a frame­work us­ing nar­rower stain­less steel for lighter weight and in­creased aisle width, it’s re­ported re­cently.

Nearly half­way through the full or­der of 31 new ‘MC50’ (aka BCI Cruiser 13) coaches for se­lec­tive op­er­a­tor Mur­rays – which are to be used on a Syd­ney-to- Can­berra-re­turn hourly run ex­press ser­vice – the 12-speed ZF Traxon is said to have in­cred­i­ble fea­tures for fuel sav­ing, driver com­fort, and noise re­duc­tion, mak­ing the trans­mis­sion, “one of the smartest that ZF has built to date,” said Bus and Coach In­ter­na­tional (BCI) CEO Des­mond Arm­strong.

“The first 10 BCIs de­liv­ered [of this Mur­rays or­der] are also pretty clever 12-speeds, but this is an upgrade from the AS Tronic,” Arm­strong ex­plained. “The ZF Traxon also neu­tralises when it doesn’t re­quire any power and then it will just throw back into gear again when you ac­cel­er­ate, all for fuel sav­ing,” he said.

With all these new MC50 coaches fea­tur­ing an ISL 400 Cum­mins Euro 5 en­gine, ZF axles and steer­ing, the ve­hi­cle will be “far more ef­fi­cient than its pre­de­ces­sors as well, so we are al­ready

see­ing around six litres per 100km dif­fer­ence in fuel con­sump­tion,” ex­plained Mur­rays na­tional fleet man­ager, Justin Can­non.

“So if you are do­ing 600km per day that’s roughly 35-40L per day less fuel with one of these on a re­turn trip.”

Un­der­writ­ing this ef­fi­ciency was a Mur­rays edict to make these coaches as light as pos­si­ble. As Can­non ex­plained: “We set a goal of 13 tonnes tare weight with fuel, for BCI.

“This bus uses stain­less steel that is nar­rower than the tra­di­tional gal­vanised steel, which al­lowed us to get the ex­tra width in the ve­hi­cles, as well. So we gained about an­other 50mm to give us ex­tra aisle width,” he said.

Mur­rays’ coach fleet num­bers about 230 ve­hi­cles – of which about 160 are BCI mod­els – and the com­pany em­ploys around 250-300 driv­ers, says Can­non.


As Can­non ex­plains, when Mur­rays started spec’ing this ve­hi­cle out, the brief to BCI was the op­er­a­tor had achieved all it could in run­ning gear and ex­te­rior de­sign of the ve­hi­cle al­ready. The em­pha­sis on this ve­hi­cle thus was go­ing to be on pas­sen­ger com­fort – and key to this was the seats.

“Whether you travel on a coach or a plane or a train, it’s about the seats. We asked BCI to find the best, most com­fort­able seat you could. They found Sege Seats [from Turkey] and they did all of the ADR com­pli­ance and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion,” said Can­non. “And so the seat is what we built the ve­hi­cle around. It’s a wider-than-tra­di­tional seat; we’ve got more legroom, we’ve got a cus­tom tray ta­ble with phone holder slot and it doesn’t break if forced down­wards; plus the seat is high so your head’s ac­tu­ally got some sup­port. There are footrests, and the USB ports are in the back.”

Arm­strong ex­plained: “They are the 4050 VIP Sege seats, which we had to have Aus­tralian-com­plied, do­ing ex­ten­sive work to meet that. To bring them to mar­ket we had to mod­ify the seats be­cause they were built for the Euro­pean stan­dards. The ADR stan­dard is 20G; how­ever, the seats would over­come 30G at test­ing.”

We wanted to build this ve­hi­cle as light as we could.

In terms of seat­ing trim and colour, all 31 buses are go­ing to fea­ture the gor­geous beige and brown colour scheme for the seat­ing and floor­ing, ac­cord­ing to Mur­rays.

“If you look at our ex­ist­ing ve­hi­cles in the cur­rent fleet they are mostly darker grey seats and so we de­cided we wanted to make the cabin look

more like busi­ness class of an airline. So we ac­tu­ally went and checked out a range of air­lines to see the colours they were us­ing and we came up with these ones,” Can­non said.

“We in­tro­duced ex­tra in­su­la­tion into the ve­hi­cle to make it qui­eter from a pas­sen­ger-com­fort per­spec­tive. We also re­designed the toi­let to make it big­ger be­cause ‘Aussies are big­ger’ and we went to a vac­uum sys­tem, as well [for flush­ing], sim­i­lar to what you get on an airline.

“We’ve in­tro­duced wi-fi into all these ve­hi­cles, and within the MCC [Mo­bile Cli­mate Con­trol] cli­mate con­trol sys­tem we’ve also in­tro­duced a diesel pre-heater. That’s be­cause down in Can­berra, where a lot of these ve­hi­cles op­er­ate at times in -8 to -7 de­grees C, we wanted it so by the time the ve­hi­cle gets to the ter­mi­nal to pick peo­ple up, the cabin tem­per­a­ture is nice and warm.

“Fo­cus­ing on pas­sen­ger com­fort we made sure the seat was as com­fort­able as we could make it, the cli­mate con­trol was as good as we could make it, and the ve­hi­cle was as quiet as pos­si­ble as well – so peo­ple could rest and feel re­laxed,” he ex­plained.


Ac­cord­ing to both BCI and Mur­rays, safety was a key as­pect of this run of ve­hi­cles, so they are suitably fit out with some of the lat­est fea­tures to min­imise any pos­si­ble dam­ages or per­sonal in­jury and re­duce driver fa­tigue.

As Arm­strong ex­plained: “In par­tic­u­lar with this ve­hi­cle here, one of the things for safety is your EBS III and ESC ca­pa­bil­ity. We also have the abil­ity for adap­tive cruise con­trol. On this coach we have added the Wabco ‘Tail guard’ sys­tem, which is a driver as­sist for re­vers­ing, so it stops be­fore hit­ting any ob­ject. That’s a very im­por­tant fea­ture added to this ve­hi­cle again.

“It works us­ing a warn­ing light and buzzer [for the driver] and then it brings the brakes on au­to­mat­i­cally. If a driver over-rides it then it ac­tu­ally ‘creeps’, so it won’t just take off. And then it will beep and stop again. And at that time some­one should wake up to the fact there must be a prob­lem [be­hind],” he said.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the new au­to­mated man­ual gear­box is for driver com­fort and anti-fa­tigue while the driver has their own air con­di­tioner as well, sup­plied by MCC.

If a driver over-rides it then it ac­tu­ally ‘creeps’, so it won’t just take off.


Ac­cord­ing to Mur­rays, the coaches thus far have re­ceived very pos­i­tive feed­back from pas­sen­gers and driv­ers alike.

“Our driv­ers love driv­ing it be­cause it’s such a com­fort­able ve­hi­cle to drive on the road. They track very well, they ride very well, they are smooth, they are quiet, driv­ers in di­rect sun can crank up their air con­di­tioner – it’s a fa­tigue and com­fort thing,” said Can­non.

Arm­strong added: “Er­gonom­i­cally,

all the con­trols are within reach. The driver’s seat is very com­fort­able with the arm rests, as well. There’s also ‘air steer­ing’ – and air-as­sisted ad­just­ment for the steer­ing, so no lean­ing down like be­fore. The dash is laid out with all the in­stru­ments prop­erly po­si­tioned, so you can read ev­ery­thing clearly. So a lot of care has been taken for the de­sign of the whole dash.”

Can­non said: “Driv­ers don’t feel as fa­tigued as in other buses. We’ve in­creased the light­ing ca­pa­bil­ity as well – we’ve added front fog­lights to the ve­hi­cle and an LED ‘light­bar’ to give pe­riph­eral light cov­er­age.

“Down around Can­berra are a lot of kan­ga­roos, so the idea of a light­bar was to light up the pe­riph­eral vi­sion [for the driver], so they can if there are any out there lurk­ing.”


Both com­pa­nies worked to­gether to fine-tune the re­sult of what be­came the Mur­rays MC50 coach. Canon said: “A stone guard and bull­bar has func­tion­al­ity, but for us you’ve got to make it look aes­thet­i­cally good as well. We worked with BCI to de­sign some­thing that fol­lowed the con­tours of the ve­hi­cle and we also de­cided to colour code it white, so it looks part of the ve­hi­cle.

“And with the stone guard arched and fol­low­ing the front con­tours you can ac­tu­ally see the Mur­rays badge on the front,” added Arm­strong.

the ve­hi­cles and as we look at our fleet re­place­ment pro­gramme, our in­ten­tion is to or­der more in fu­ture.”


Other ve­hi­cle high­lights in­clude: elec­tronic ‘smart’ dash for dis­play­ing air pres­sure, volts, in­side tem­per­a­ture, axle and to­tal weights, A/C com­pres­sor pres­sure, wheel­chair lift, more than 13m2 lug­gage ca­pac­ity with ac­cess on both sides, plus Mix Telem­at­ics.

In terms of tyres, Can­non says Mur­rays’ main­stream tyre is Goodyear, but in this case it wasn’t avail­able at the fac­tory, so Miche­lins were used, which were fine.

“We went to 315s. So tra­di­tion­ally every ve­hi­cle has 295s and, of course with the new 18-tonne limit you get seven tonnes over your steer axle, but on 295s you ac­tu­ally can’t carry it. We went for a big­ger tyre size, so this ve­hi­cle has 9-inch rims on 315s all the way around – that’s for car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity and safety as well,” Can­non said.

“This run of 31 [buses] is specif­i­cally for the Syd­ney- Can­berra route and, depend­ing on the feed­back we get on


Ex­plain­ing how the Mur­rays re­la­tion­ship with BCI came about, Can­non says it hap­pened around 2008 when the com­pany was, “look­ing to re­place our ex­ist­ing fleet of mostly PMC Sca­nias”.

“We wanted to build some­thing that suited our ap­pli­ca­tion, the type of work we did. We went to mar­ket; we prob­a­bly went to six dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers.

So the pro­pos­als we got from all the man­u­fac­tur­ers went through an eval­u­a­tion and BCI came up as the best one.

“We sat down with BCI then and went through the specifics of the build, the specifics of what we wanted to do that were a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent.

“The things that stood out to us were BCI’s flex­i­bil­ity to do the things that we wanted to do – so ob­vi­ously they had qual­ity build, they could build the vol­ume that we were look­ing for, and they had the engi­neer­ing ex­per­tise.

“But mostly with BCI it’s their flex­i­bil­ity, their will­ing­ness to come lis­ten to the cus­tomer, to un­der­stand what the cus­tomer wants and then go out there and de­liver it.

“And their open­ness to trans­parency was also im­por­tant. The fact they were pre­pared to have one of my staff go and work at the fac­tory [in Xi­a­men, China] while the build was on and su­per­vise on

be­half of the owner … to us that meant they had noth­ing to hide as well, which we thought was very im­por­tant,” Can­non ex­plained.


Since 1966 Mur­rays Coaches has grown into one of the coun­try’s largest coach com­pa­nies and it says its ob­jec­tive is to pro­vide the best pos­si­ble trans­port it can, so it puts an em­pha­sis on qual­ity and safety.

“We pitch our­selves at the top end of the mar­ket, so we al­ways want to de­liver qual­ity. We have ex­press op­er­a­tions and we have char­ter op­er­a­tions. Syd­ney- Can­berra is a big fea­ture of our ex­press op­er­a­tions, as well as Can­berra to [the] NSW South Coast … Wol­lon­gong … we do the snow,” said Can­non.

Started by Ron Mur­ray – orig­i­nally a travel agent – the com­pany di­ver­si­fied through the ’80s and ’90s with a va­ri­ety of tourism busi­nesses. In 2005 Ron Mur­ray was recog­nised for his ser­vices to the tourism and trans­port in­dus­try by be­ing awarded an Or­der of Aus­tralia.

Left:The beige and brown colour scheme is a nod to busi­ness class air travel.Op­po­site, Top:The new 13.2m BCI coach is handed over by BCI CEO Des­mond Arm­strong to Mur­rays na­tional fleet man­ager Justin Can­non.

Top: Driver fea­tures in­clude adap­tive cruise con­trol.

Top Right:The team is pretty chuffed with their ef­forts on this coach.Far Right:The bull­bar is func­tional, but had to also ‘look the goods’.

Above: The seats are what the ve­hi­cle has been built around.

Right:The toi­lets have been ex­panded for more space.

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