ABC ISSUE 373 – OUT NOW!

By: Fabian Cotter


NZ AND AUSTRALIA overall have great bus industries and idyllic locations we can take tourists to. Let’s show the world even more of what we’ve got…

ABC ISSUE 373 – OUT NOW!
ABC issue 373 – Check out the stunning ADL Plaxton Elite 'New Zealand' luxury three-axle coach!

You could have cut the tension in the office with a knife. And I don’t mean some regular old two-dollar-shop chopping block one, but a proper indestructible ‘cut though anything’ blade you used to see on looping late-night TV ads at, like, 3.00am or something. The Samurai-esque Ginsu 5000, or whatever. One of those.

‘Do we zoom in? Do we zoom out? In? Or out? Halfway? Right up close? Up the nostrils? Or let’s just leave it blank…’

I could feel the zeal and passion of the ABC magazine troops all the way from the interstate office I was in, so ‘debilitatingly’ perplexing was this issue’s cover shot.

I didn’t think it would be when I first randomly spied it online while searching for something completely non-bus-related, from memory. Most probably trying to confirm the current variations of Tim Tams out on the market, or something naff like that (original for the win).

Was it about the vehicle? Well, yes it was. Was it about the location? Indeed so, just as well. So … which is it? What’s the answer, I ’spose? After much umm-ing and ahh-ing the answer curiously was another question in itself? ‘Why can’t it be both?’

That is, when I first spied the roofline of that coach – even from its original, zoomed-out position – I’d recalled seeing such a design many moons ago, but had no idea where (it works on a coach; anything shorter and it just looks … chubby, like me). Burbling away in the brain for a day or two the proverbial penny dropped. Eureka!

During a stint in Britain circa 2009-2010 I pictured catching a coach from London to Edinburg, Scotland, for a wee bonnie look around. Hogmanay, it was! Gale-force winds and hammering rain. New Year’s celebrations blown asunder and randomly bailing up in some local pub instead with the ex-missus and tipsy locals, where at times those Scottish accents were even harder to understand. (Think that Spud character in the cult movie Trainspotting. But worse.)

It was all coming back to me now. I’d seen this cool coach shape at the National Express (kind of like Jetstar on wheels, I guess) bus terminal, I think. It would have been a newbie back then, as its striking looks seemed new anyway – but unfortunately it was not the bus I thought we’d be getting on for the trip.

No offence to whatever it was that did get us up there and back safely (it’s an eight-hour drive or so, like a Sydney to Melbourne hop), and it was way better than the one a mate and I took just out of high school back from Brisbane or Surfers 20 years earlier.

That coach itself was fine, but if we ever find the bloke with the socks-off smelly feet sitting behind us all the way there’ll be nothing but dental records of him left, so psychologically scared were we. Yep, think worse than ‘manky’ parmesan cheese and more like 800-year-old Gouda found in the basement of some serial killer’s house then brought up out by the cops into the sun for an hour. Eeew!

Anyway, it was great to see the pictured shape again after all these years, elegantly devouring the road in the pristinely beautiful New Zealand alpine countryside. It turns out it’s a UK Plaxton design, a company bought out and now owned by Alexander Denis Limited. Who knew?

But here’s the thing. Truth be told, it was the scenery that immediately caught my eye and the marrying of it and the sexy coach shape spoke to me as a package. An instantaneous smack in the face of supreme coach travel in all its glory, as it were. And if slapping it on the cover in full is what it takes to get that effect out around world for more people to embrace coach travel wherever, then so be it.

Besides, a good English mate of mine explained to me via social media without prompting when she saw both cover options: "I see the scenery first. It reminds me of a coach trip from Canberra to Melbourne, and the scenery was so beautiful that, for once, I never wanted to read my book at all…"

KIA ORA – OR JUST G’DAY!

There’s a good chance that, at the time of reading this, many of you are at the 2018 Australasia Bus Conference in Cairns, Australia, October 7 – 10. It’s an inaugural event hosted jointly by the Bus Industry Confederation of Australia and the Bus and Coach Association New Zealand. Themed Moving People – Century 21, it will examine Australasian and global bus and coach issues around topics like mobility, connectivity and technology.

What an exciting and special occasion it is and will hopefully be a resounding success and beneficial for all involved, organisers and delegates alike.

On that note, you’ll sense a bit of a NZ focus this issue. It just happened that way, I promise. But that’s just the type of crazy stuff that happens here at planet ABC.

As mentioned, we check out the stunning Plaxton ADL ‘Elite New Zealand’ three-axle coach that’s used by a range of leading operators on both islands. Plus we overview the latest from Australia’s own Coach Design on the eve of its very first 2.55m ‘wide-body’ Alpine atop a directly imported Scania K 450 EB6x2 chassis, purely for NZ export purposes. It was a first for the CD crew and it was great to get the lowdown on what a project like this involves.

Also this issue, speaking of operators, few can match the longevity of Tranzit NZ – a company nearly 95 years young and still going strong, with some of the latest and greatest bus product in its fleet.

In terms of bus reviews, we have a cracker for you. Paul Aldridge finally gets behind the wheel of a ‘non-prototype’ Yutong C122 – known globally as the wider T12 – thanks to official Yutong distributors Bus Stop Sales, in Queensland.

From all accounts he came away suitably impressed, but ensure you check our video review, too, on www.busnews.com.au for the in-depth rundown. Plus, inside here you’ll also find our event review of the excellently delivered and presented TasBus 2018 show. Geoff Lewis and the Tassie team there do an awesome job and the conference this year reflected it.

And, just like the Ginsu knife commercials, "But wait, there’s more!’. We’ve compiled our 2018 Passenger Information Systems Guide for you and wrap up all the bus delivery news that happened this past month. And not to let the feline out of the bag too much, but the result’s a blinder.

As for more events, Volvo Commercial Vehicles opened its new AUD$30 million national HQ in south Brisbane recently, so we were honoured to be invited to go check it out (thanks Kaylee Clark at  Clark’s Logan City Bus Service for the night pics), while our pictorial this issue is a bit of a quirky one.

The Bauer Media Group and much of the collective ABC magazine team decided to let out any deadline stress, or general societal angst and aggression (kidding), on the local Oakleigh lawn bowls field.

A great afternoon of fun had by all (yeah, we did work too earlier, don’t worry), and it’s probably the only time us Aussies in the Kiwi-led company were happy to bowl under-arm controversy free.

Yep, I just ‘went there’. ;)

Anyhoo… That’s pretty much a wrap for this month, aside from a new Aussie PM. We are used that to now. It’s kind of fun.

Oh, and hey! Don’t forget it’s not too late to enter the draw for the chance to win an HSV SportCat 4x4, or subscribe to your favourite bus magazine ABC for even more entries into it. Go on, you know you want to.

And so as I say as always, until the next thrilling instalment…

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook