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ABC Issue 442 – Out Now!

The current state of play for Australasia’s bus and coach operators is changing before our very eyes, with acquisitions becoming a sign of the times

Only a few years ago, the Australasian bus and coach industry was full of so many operators that it was borderline impossible to have a grasp of just how many businesses operated bus services around the region. 

I remember when I first started on ABC in the early months of 2022 and began discovering new operators every working day, slowly piecing together the puzzle that encapsulates Australia’s unique bus and coach industry. In just over two years, the landscape has completely changed, with major operators being sold to multi-national giants and family businesses being bought up as a select few companies have tightened their grasp over certain metropolitan contract regions in Australia’s largest cities.

The trend isn’t just down to one operator – whether it be Ventura’s recently confirmed sale to Singapore’s Keppel Infrastructure Trust or the news in late May that Kinetic had expanded its presence in Tasmania once again with the acquisition of renowned Burnie-based family business Crawn Motors, these stories are happening more and more often.

With contracts now hanging in the balance in key cities like Melbourne, the bus and coach operating scene in Australasia is condensing into a smaller pool of larger players. 

For the operators that are still carrying on decades of rich history, innovation has been key. A key example is the partnership between Victorian operator Crown Coaches and supplier BCI that is represented on our cover. 

Over a decade ago, Crown Coaches decided to dabble in sustainable bus technology with BCI. While it may not have initially been successful, the experience has paved the way for Crown Coaches’ recent order of BCI electric buses that have begun hitting Melbourne roads. 

From page 18 onwards, the cover story typifies the direction that forward-thinking suppliers like BCI and their operator partners are veering towards.

Another example not far away from Crown Coaches and its new BCI fleet is the Dyson Group. For decades the family company has expanded its reach from its home in Melbourne’s north-east to regional centres towards the Victorian and New South Wales borders. Now, with a new corporate structure in place and a Shepparton regional hub under construction, its focus is turning towards zero-emissions buses, as can be seen from page 38.

The key issue holding operators back from following in Dysons’ footsteps is the lack of government direction on the zero-emissions transition. ABC dug deeper this month, putting questions around the slow ZEB uptake to major government transport bodies in Australia’s largest states to find out what is coming in the near future on page 22.

On the OEM side, bus technology is only improving, with BLK Auto refining its model range and reintroducing a popular variant of its President vehicle from page 27. VDI reflected on its quick evolution distributing Yutong buses in Australia on page 30, with more ZEB innovations on the way, while Bus Stop Sales’ leader Pete White discusses the dealer’s lessons from its ongoing sustainability focus on page 32.

With Volvo now evolving the way its sales staff sells ZEB models to local customers on page 38, brands like GoZero Group are building in the Australasian industry with their dedication to a complete zero-emissions solution. With finance parties such as Bus Finance Australia (from page 42) also coming to the party with modern and flexible infrastructure funds, the industry is doing all that it can to fasten the transition in Australasia. 

Read the latest edition here. 

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