TWIN PEAKS - 2018 CANBERRA SUMMITS

By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: Fabian Cotter


EVENT: 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.

TWIN PEAKS - 2018 CANBERRA SUMMITS
Canberra was the perfect backdrop for the range of key issues affecting school bus routes and coach journeys.

Back 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.

With the two Summits on at once at the NCC in Canberra 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 and stay put, but it was a great day out regardless.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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SCHOOL OF ROCK

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."

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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?

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‘HEAD OUT ON THE HIGHWAY’

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.

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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?

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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 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…

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A FITTING CONCLUSION

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

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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.

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