SEATING: Evolution Seating

By: David Goeldner


Sydney coach operator Lance Taskin is evolving his business into a new era in seating supply

SEATING: Evolution Seating
Joining the Taskin family at Fairfield in Sydney, from left, are John Thompson, Lance Taskin, Yasmin Taskin, Sally Taskin, Kayla Taskin and Michael Semaan

Harking back to the 2002 World Cup in the Korean Republic, the surprise team of the tournament was a group of aging football veterans playing for their beloved nation.

The Turkish national team played above their seeding, getting as far as the semi-final before being edged out by the eventual champions Brazil.

A playoff for third against the host nation saw 62,000 soccer fanatics willing their side across the line, but it was Turkey that prevailed 3-2 against South Korea at Daegu Stadium.

What followed immediately after the match was buried in the consciousness after the tournament was over, with thoughts of that sporting moment resurfacing after meeting a coach business family in Sydney recently.

At the end of the 2002 third place playoff, the wives and children of the Turkish players came onto the pitch with tears of joy at what they had been achieved, and not just as an effort from the 11 footballers engaged in the battle, but celebrating ‘family’ on the world’s stage in a way that has rarely been seen since. And that, as the team captain quickly pointed out, summed up the Turkish national pride.

In sport, as in any business, the Turkish family ethos is strong and vibrant, and that’s no less true with the Taskin family from Fairfield in western Sydney.

Lance Taskin comes from a bus operations background from the historically-rich Eurasian country dissected by the Bosphorus — the body of water that officially separates Europe from Asia, and hence has transported the name, with some embellishment of spelling, to his Sydney coach charter business — Bosfor Travel.

Assisted by his wife Sally and their exuberant children Yasmin and Kayla, Lance has sought ways to build and extend his business from the ‘grassroots’ as a charter coach operation which he started in 1998, now employing three dedicated and experienced drivers, Michael Semaan, John Thompson and Robert Owens.

Lance came to Australia from Turkey in 1979 as a qualified accountant, but had a love for the bus industry since a young age.

"My uncle had coach companies in Turkey, and I was involved with him as an offsider," he says.

Lance says he has no interest in any other form of heavy vehicle transport — just coach travel.

"It’s in my blood and I can’t get it out."

Lance chose not to further his accountancy profession, sticking to his love of bus and coach driving, and working for the Ferris family which at that time had operations at West Ryde and Parramatta.

He also worked for the Baxter family, also in western Sydney, before branching out on his own.

"I have been in the Australian bus industry for about 28 years," Lance says.

The last 16 years he has fluctuated between one and five coaches, and now has three with no desire to ‘get big’, he says, content to keep his inbound tourism clients happy, providing day tours for senior citizens, and tending to his list of corporate clients.

"My coaches are not brand new, but they are all five-star spec," he says.

But Lance does have the drive to diversify, initially starting European Truck & Bus Parts, from which sprang his latest foray into seating.

The coach business ticks along, but diversification is top of mind at the moment in the Taskin family household as husband and dad Lance consolidates his seating sideline with a range of Australian Design Rule (ADR) compliant bus and coach seats he is importing from his homeland, and which — to all appearances — is true to what he believes.

BUILT FOR COMFORT

Since 2012, Lance has been the Australian agent for Turkish-built ADR68-compliant Sege seat range, imported as Evolution Seating Systems.

Not only do they pass rigorous ADR standards, they also pass the ‘comfort test’, as vouched for by chief ‘comfort tester’ Sally Taskin, who otherwise is the Bosfor Travel business administrator.

The passenger seats are so comfortable they have been aptly branded the ‘Bus Comfort 4030X’ and the ‘Bus Comfort 4010’.

The Evolution showpiece is the Advantage driver’s seat, which also seems plush and — according to Lance — is the equal of the popular Isringhausen seat, but with a lower price tag.

"Because I have been an operator for so many years, I have a view of what the industry needs," he says.

"My philosophy for Australia is to catch up with the rest of the world."

It might seem a bold statement, but there may be a kernel of truth in what he sees are trends emerging in Europe which don’t get due attention in Australia.

"We are going around in circles here, and not getting anywhere," he says.

Lance agrees completely with the ADR68 safety standard for bus seats, and has taken a good deal of advice from seating stalwart Rod Ferguson, owner of Brisbane-based Transport Seating.

He has no doubt that Australia’s regime for testing is of a high standard, and at one point led the rest of the world, but Europe — in this respect — has gone further.

Lance also sees that the many designs of bus seats in Australia are now 20 years old, and new designs should be evolving, not just in style, but in use of materials. For example, there are no pine boards at the base of any Evolution Seat, but instead is a robust mould which aids cleaning, and enhances comfort, as well as surpassing safety requirements.

Logistically, Lance says orders for Evolution Seating Systems can be filled and supplied from Turkey to Australia in about eight weeks, which is a similar time to build and supply a locally-made seat, or supply a set of seats from Asia.

Kept as inventory and ready to supply is the Advantage driver’s seat, stored onsite at Fairfield at the Bosfor Travel bus depot, which now doubles as a seating distribution centre, and shared with the owner of the site Steve’s Minibus and Tours.

Lance recently placed a significant order of 20 driver’s seats to Murrays Coaches to retrofit part of their fleet of minibuses.

SEATING PIPELINE

The current target is to provide a new style of disabled seating to meet continuing demands of coach operations under the Disability Discrimination Act to provide appropriate access and options for disabled passengers.

The current scenario is that some services are losing seats to provide space for wheelchairs, particularly on Country Link services in New South Wales, according to Lance.

"To be able to accommodate two wheelchair spaces, you have to lose three seats, so your vehicle becomes a 44 or 46 seats," he says.

"When you lose these seats you might have to provide an extra coach service."

Taskin has been looking at a new design whereby the seats otherwise removed from the coach can be pushed back to make way for wheelchairs.

"When you don’t need a wheelchair you can push the seats back into position," he says.

The design does not impinge on the comfort of any other passenger, and could revolutionise country coach travel in particular.

"Sege are making this seat now, and it will go through European testing before coming to Australia."

He says the base design of the retractable foldaway seat is similar to a hostess seat typically positioned at the front of a long distance coach to the right of the driver.

"It won’t be as comfortable as a coach recliner seat, but operators will save space, time and money," Lance says.

On the other side of the seating coin, Lance is also looking at child harness-style coach seating to mitigate the need for parents to place their children in adult-sized seats on buses, or bring the child’s car booster seat on board.

"We can do this with Sege, and why it hasn’t been done here in Australia is because no one had thought of it," Lance says.

That’s until now of course, as Lance and Sally Taskin keep coming up with a pipeline of seating ideas, with direct access to Sege in Turkey.

And like the families that supported their national footballing husbands and heroes at the 2002 World Cup, the Taskins are proudly setting a standard perhaps higher than deemed possible a few years ago, supporting each other to the end, and looking with wide-eyed optimism at the future.

 

SUMMING UP:

Bosfor Travel and Evolution Seating Systems

Fleet: Three coaches — Mercedes-Benz

Seat range: Bus Comfort 4030X, Bus Comfort 4010, Advantage driver’s seat

Principal: Lance Taskin

Web: www.bosfortravel.com.au and www.europeantruckandbusparts.com.au

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