Can­berra mid-year played host to the suc­cess­ful 2018 Aus­tralian In­dus­try Sum­mits – one new, the other back by pop­u­lar de­mand – with the na­tion’s cap­i­tal the per­fect back­drop for the range of key is­sues af­fect­ing school bus routes and coach jour­neys.


It was freez­ing out­side, but so what? The BIC put on a warm wel­come for hun­dreds of del­e­gates at its state-based con­fer­ence this year. Fabian Cot­ter re­ports.

Bback in June the first Aus­tralian Travel to Learn and School Bus Sum­mit took place at the Na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, Can­berra – which ran con­cur­rently with the sec­ond Na­tional Coach Con­nec­tions Sum­mit. The lat­ter rep­re­sented a con­tin­u­a­tion of an en­gross­ing theme and vibe from the pre­vi­ous year’s sum­mit held in Ade­laide, it’s stated.

With two Sum­mits on at once you’ve just got to just pop your head in back and forth if you wanted to check out both, or choose where your main in­ter­est was, but it was a great day out re­gard­less.

Ac­cord­ing to Bus In­dus­try Con­fed­er­a­tion (BIC) or­gan­is­ers, both sum­mits at­tracted

213 del­e­gates from a broad spec­trum of in­dus­try in­clud­ing op­er­a­tors, sup­pli­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers, var­i­ous agen­cies/ bu­reau­crats. The largest rep­re­sen­ta­tion by re­gion was from Vic­to­ria, Queens­land, and New South Wales, fol­lowed closely by the ACT and New Zealand, it’s stated.

For a per­cent­age break­down of del­e­gates, it went a lit­tle some­thing like this: 43 per cent op­er­a­tors; 31 per cent sup­pli­ers (in­cludes man­u­fac­tur­ers, sup­pli­ers, ser­vices and pro­fes­sion­als); 12 per cent rep­re­sen­ta­tives of gov­ern­ment (in­cludes var­i­ous Com­mon­wealth and State de­part­ments); eight per cent State or Ter­ri­tory as­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives; and seven per cent ad­vo­cacy, ed­u­ca­tion or tourism-based or­gan­i­sa­tions.

From what ABC mag­a­zine could tell, the pro­grammes for both sum­mits were re­ally well re­ceived by del­e­gates from across the na­tion, with many keen to dis­cuss top­ics as per how they were be­ing af­fected or ob­served in their par­tic­u­lar ge­o­graph­i­cal ar­eas.


In essence, the rea­son for the Na­tional Travel to Learn and School Bus Sum­mit was to dis­cuss travel choices to most

ef­fec­tively get stu­dents (no mat­ter their age) to pri­mary and sec­ondary schools, tech­ni­cal and fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes, and uni­ver­si­ties – in fact, all forms of ed­u­ca­tion, BIC states.

In other words, to “look be­yond the pol­icy out­come of pro­vid­ing trans­port ser­vices to de­liver ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and broaden the pol­icy ba­sis upon which gov­ern­ments fund these ser­vices. To iden­tify what other eco­nomic, en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­ci­etal ben­e­fits there are if we get ‘ travel to learn’ trans­port ser­vices right.”

Hot top­ics as re­gards this in­cluded:

• Where does school bus travel

fit in the trans­port net­work?

• Why are school bus net­works ex­clu­sion­ary and dis­parate?

• Are our cur­rent op­er­at­ing and con­tract­ing mod­els right for to­mor­row’s needs and are they fair?

• What are the bar­ri­ers to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of the school bus and what are the im­pacts of al­ter­na­tive modes on con­ges­tion, the en­vi­ron­ment and our so­cial set­ting?

• Can and should we in­te­grate school bus net­works with main­stream pub­lic trans­port net­works?


As for the Na­tional Coach Con­nec­tions Sum­mit, it was great to hear del­e­gates had agreed to pro­duce a Long Dis­tance, Tour and Char­ter pol­icy doc­u­ment that in­cludes a 10-year plan to 2028 with the aim to dou­ble the num­ber of trips taken by coach. This is great for­ward think­ing.

In ABC mag­a­zine’s May is­sue, we looked at the new Daim­ler Se­tra in Europe not only for its pedes­trian safety tech­nol­ogy, but also what some­thing of its ilk rep­re­sented to en­gen­der greater coach pa­tron­age. The idea be­ing, if you are go­ing to win over hearts and minds to the bus-travel cause, why not do it in coach style?

As stated then, we have so many great tourism hotspots around the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly ones close to cities, that we should be able to scoop up lo­cals as well who can’t be both­ered driv­ing there them­selves. Maybe get some fre­quent rider card and points sys­tem go­ing for all the winer­ies and golf cour­ses, of­fer­ing dis­counts so peo­ple start pen­cilling in this stuff for

…both sum­mits at­tracted 213 del­e­gates from a broad spec­trum of in­dus­try

their week­ends rather than just talk­ing about it with their mates? Put a TV ad on to pro­mote it – what­ever.

Any­way, it was all ex­cit­ing stuff…


By dis­cus­sions’ end, BIC and the Bus Aus­tralia Net­work thanked all speak­ers, pan­el­lists and del­e­gates for con­tribut­ing to a great day of knowl­edge shar­ing.

Fol­low­ing this the Na­tional Bus & Coach In­dus­try din­ner was held, which was well at­tended by var­i­ous mem­bers and sen­a­tors of fed­eral par­lia­ment. Key note ad­dresses were heard from: Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter for In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­port, Michael McCor­mack; Shadow Min­is­ter for In­fra­struc­ture, Trans­port, Cities and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment, and for Tourism, An­thony Al­banese; and Sen­a­tor for the Greens, Janet Rice.

Top Right: Coach sum­mit panel. Above:Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter for In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­port, Michael McCor­mack. Left (L-R):Sen­a­tor for the Greens, Janet Rice and Matt Threlkeld, BusNSW ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.Far Left: Michael Apps, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of BIC.

Top: The two sum­mits tak­ing place cov­ered travel to ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions and how to ex­pand the num­ber of peo­ple choos­ing to travel by coach for leisure.Right:An­thony Al­banese, Shadow Min­is­ter for In­fra­struc­ture, Trans­port, Cities and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment, and for Tourism. Bot­tom and Op­po­site: Evening comedic en­ter­tain­ment af­ter a hard day’s dis­cus­sions.

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