ed­i­to­rial | ig­ni­tion

It’s been a jam-packed month for the in­dus­try and a great turn-out for the Aus­trala­sia Bus Con­fer­ence in Cairns. Oz can be harsh for bus op­er­a­tors, but it’s also thriv­ing!

ABC (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

How tough are ‘Aussie driv­ing con­di­tions’ when it comes to new ve­hi­cles han­dling the rigours of it? A lot tougher than many of us think they are. Editor Cot­ter pon­ders just what’s needed to cut it Down Un­der.

“Out on the pa­tio, we’d sit. And the hu­mid­ity, we’d sneeze.

“Doo doo dodo dododo, crack over cane fields,

“Laugh and think, this is, Aus­tralia–er­rrr…” – (or some­thing like that?)

Ganga­bang? Why does the name Ganga­bang come to mind? Any­way, what­ever it was that trig­gered that song off in my head, it seems might­ily ap­pro­pri­ate given where I am right now, which has im­bued me with an even greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the big brown land we hap­pe­nen to be liv­ing on, this side of the planet.

Ah, sugar cane! That’s it! That was the trig­ger, I’m sure.

You see, by the time you read this, many of you – like me – will have re­turned home to our dis­tant hum­ble abodes some­where else in Aus­tralia or New Zealand (our pos­si­bly even fur­ther afield; I’m sure I heard the odd Bri­tish twang and Amer­i­can slang dur­ing the past few days), hav­ing par­tic­i­pated in the in­au­gu­ral 2018 BIC/BCANZ Aus­trala­sia Bus Con­fer­ence, held Oc­to­ber 7–10 in Cairns, Queens­land.

Talk about ‘Beau­ti­ful one day, per­fect the next’ clichés. I mean, I get it now. Like, re­ally get it. And while the land of Her Majesty is a big ol’ town through pure ge­o­graph­i­cal size at the best of times, and while surely that means not all the State could be that bliss­ful and dis­turbingly chirpy 365 days of the year, way up north in Cairns I get the feel­ing they go pretty close. And just like that … I’m a fan.

This year’s na­tional bus in­dus­try con­fer­ence was the first time it was jointly held by both Aus­tralia’s Bus In­dus­try Con­fed­er­a­tion (BIC) and its Kiwi coun­ter­part, the Bus & Coach As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand (BCANZ). And what an amaz­ing suc­cess it was – and still is (it’s still go­ing on right now tech­ni­cally while I’m here typ­ing away on deadline at 5.26am in my ho­tel room - with days of cof­fee abuse and sleep de­pri­va­tion fi­nally can­celling each other out and the lat­ter smugly kick­ing in).

That is, without giv­ing away too many in­dus­try trade se­crets willy-nilly, I re­call only a few weeks ago hear­ing the num­ber of del­e­gates who had reg­is­tered back then and the num­ber that would be cal­cu­lated to even­tu­ally (read: hope­fully) sign up be­fore the whole she­bang kicked off. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t close to the fi­nal num­bers of 750+ at­ten­dees or so that I heard be­ing bandied about from start to fin­ish at the event. And it looked it. Yep, it’s been a cracker!

In lay­man’s terms, that’s a great sign for the in­dus­try both here and across the bath­tub in NZ, and is an awe­some rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what can be achieved by work­ing to­gether.

I mean, I know I keep an­noy­ingly bang­ing on about tourism and travel and what our re­gion of­fers – and how with all these young back­pack­ers to older mid-life cri­sis trav­ellers and even greyer ‘get­away-ers’ we should give them some sort of ‘Down Un­der tour card’ where they earn points and get dis­counts the more they do and see while here and stuff – but it’s kind of how we have to present our­selves as a pack­age deal. Not so much let them think they have worked out where they want to go or have some travel agent put that spin on it.

Why us? Well, even though we are just a part of the tran­sient trans­port sys­tem they would prob­a­bly use to visit what­ever and wher­ever, only on buses – specif­i­cally coaches – do you get the best mo­bile so­cial unit con­ver­sa­tions and con­nec­tions to be made and new friend­ships to cre­ate. Sure you can strike up a chat on trains or in cabs and share cars, but only on a coach can you move big groups of peo­ple in a happy travel men­tal space and get them to where trains can’t or where cars fail on ca­pac­ity to do so.

THE PEO­PLE YOU MEET

While at the con­fer­ence it also got me think­ing about the term ‘in Aus­tralian con­di­tions’. It’s in­deed thrown about in the au­to­mo­tive and com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle world

“ONE OP­ER­A­TOR … CON­FIRMS THAT HIT­TING 15 ROOS A NIGHT IS NOT UN­COM­MON.”

as a badge of hon­our when it comes to what a car or truck or bus can do, but I get the feel­ing we might be un­der­es­ti­mat­ing and over­play­ing it, depend­ing on what our ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive might be. So, buy prod­uct X be­cause it goes well in ‘Aus­tralian con­di­tions’, but in some places those con­di­tions are wayyyy worse than you might think or even know.

Speak­ing with some bus op­er­a­tors, I was – as were oth­ers amongst them – shocked to hear of both the mag­ni­tude

of what ‘roo strikes’ could do to a bus or truck ( yeah, even with a bull­bar) and just how of­ten they hap­pen. One op­er­a­tor – and I can’t say the route as you’d fig­ure them out that way – con­firms that hit­ting 15 roos a night is not un­com­mon and road trains are “mow­ing down hun­dreds”.

My point is, granted not every bus or coach sold will be used in such en­vi­ron­ments, but with the re­pair and time cost you’d be up for in Whoop-Whoop wher­ever, you’d kind of re­ally want to know what ‘Aus­tralian con­di­tions’ truly meant be­fore you – or your bus or coach – find out the hard way.

PUT THIS BABY TO BED

In this is­sue there’s … well … let’s just say it’s all hap­pen­ing. It re­ally has been a full-on month with loads of cool ‘busie’ things tak­ing place.

On the cover, whooska! Scania has banked on some peo­ple’s love of all things OEM and used its JV with China-based Higer to de­liver Oz its Scania Tour­ing lux­ury coach.

It was a great launch event in Port Dou­glas (coin­ci­den­tally ;) ) be­fore the Cairns show and it re­ally set the tone for un­der­stand­ing what they want to achieve with it. We tried to cap­ture some of the shenani­gans at the back in our ‘so­ci­ety pages’ (love it) this is­sue.

Next we check out the mas­sive ef­fort needed to get buses ready for the Syd­ney Metro rail-re­place­ment Sta­tion Link project, and also catch up with BusVic pres­i­dent Dom Sita and check out his Kastoria Buslines op­er­a­tion.

We fi­nally get around to check­ing out the Can­berra Sum­mits ear­lier this year – yep, ‘my bad’ - which were great. And we also visit Lo­gan Coaches and take a King Long 6130 out for a cheeky spin.

In terms of sup­ply lines, this is­sue we have a quick short look at bus bod­ies and who’s who and what’s out there, plus we also visit Can­berra-based Mur­ray’s Syd­ney de­pot for the lat­est BCI lux­ury coach de­liv­ery. It’s got the lat­est ZF trans­mis­sion (first in Oz) and a stack of other clever good­ies on it, so check that too!

Other than that, sleep calls. For me, any­way. I’ve had so much cof­fee these past few days that Colom­bian snif­fer dogs are look­ing at me weird. Or maybe they al­ways just look that way when they are hol­i­day­ing in Cairns, too. ;)

Oh, and I think this is the last month of our su­per-cool HSV SportCat 4x4 pro­mo­tion, so it’s not too late to en­ter the draw for the chance to win it to­day. Sub­scribe to your favourite bus mag­a­zine ABC for even more en­tries into it. Hey, if you aren’t in it you can’t win it, right? (or some­thing like that LOL).

Any­way, as the Brits say: ‘Layt-erz’. Until the next thrilling in­stal­ment…

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