For decades, the Australian bus and coach industry has been self-sufficient and incredibly well functioning. It hasn’t needed close attention nor any helping hands in its evolution as a leader in many ways when it comes to passenger transport standards.
Yet that doesn’t mean now is the time to turn down any guidance it can get in the face of some stern challenges. There have been many curveballs thrown at the industry in recent years, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting supply chain impacts that are still causing operators and manufacturers plenty of pain.
Then there’s the skilled worker shortage that has infiltrated plenty of industries and hasn’t spared the rod on bus and coach businesses. Throw in an economic downturn and a massive bout of pressure being squeezed onto companies through the ongoing zero-emissions vehicle transition and there’s plenty that the industry is grappling with.
It’s what makes some outsider perspectives so vital. I was lucky enough to chat with Dr Juliette Tobias-Webb, an expert in human behaviour and psychology who will present at the upcoming BIC National Conference in Adelaide. Her knowledge and ideas to help tackle the retention and recruiting challenge, as well as other company issues, is set to be an optimistic discussion-starter for those looking for inventive ways to combat the buffet of adversity currently being served up to the industry.
Coupled with my interview with Tobias-Webb on page 42 is the constant glimmers of innovation that companies are showing. None showcase this better than Yutong, who grace our cover for this month. Time has flown since VDI Australia first brought the D7 to Australia to fill a niche market. Now, it’s introducing an electrified version of the popular model – check out what this means for the industry from page 18.
For months, the ABC team has been seeking to find an appropriate and productive way of approaching harrowing safety incidents that have occurred this year. It took time, but it ended in ABC chatting to John Gaffney, who was impacted directly by the Hunter Valley bus crash and has since stirred movement in politicians to review bus safety laws. The final product from page 22 onwards is a deep dive into the mammoth challenges that lay ahead for policymakers and industry in the near future.
We’re at an important time in the Australian bus industry’s history. Bus Stop Sales’ Pete White knows this and chatted to us on page 26 about what he sees must be done to make the sector’s future as fruitful as possible. This includes chatting about electric buses, which Victorian operators have become well aware of.
From page 29, we spoke to some operators who have begun adopting zero-emissions bus technology in Victoria to see what they have learnt to date.
While electric buses are all the rage currently, there are still large strides being taken when it comes to advanced diesel technology. BLK Auto is one brand invested in this. Outside of its zero-emissions advancements, it is also in the midst of constructing a new axle design that harks back to the glory days of local bus manufacturing – see page 32.
Outside of these stories, StyleRide has found a new niche in the form of refurbishing bus seats for key clients, while Jaltest Diagnostics has become a vital cog in the Multispares machine when it comes to maintaining fleets. All of this and more is included in another bumper edition of ABC.