LAST ‘CUSTOM SB50’ BUS BODY DELIVERED

By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy Custom Bus Group


NSW SOUTH COAST bus operator Marshall’s Moruya has received the very last ‘Custom designed and made’ SB50 bus body, ending an 11-year production run with an estimated minimum 135 units delivered across Australia, it’s been announced.

LAST ‘CUSTOM SB50’ BUS BODY DELIVERED
Marshall’s Bus & Coach Company Pty Ltd director Peter Marshall (L) receives the last SB50-bodied bus from Mick Neskes, national sales manager, Custom Bus Group.

Gracing a range of chassis brands and models since the first two examples (stock units for Mercedes-Benz and Hino) debuted at the 2009 Australian Bus and Coach Show that September, the school/charter bus SB50 – along with its popular CB80 "New Generation" city bus stablemate - incorporated hundreds of high-quality new internal and external parts designed and manufactured using the latest 3D computer-aided design techniques, including 3D computer surface modelling and automated manufacturing techniques.

Such production requirements arguably led to Custom needing to streamline and expand its operations, necessitating its move from Smithfield, NSW, to a new plant in Villawood in 2010. Once there (and eventually under ADL ownership), ‘Custom Coaches’ would be able to commence using its new five-axis laser tube cutter - the ‘most sophisticated version in Australia’ - and a central part of production for the new models, it was reported at the time.

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THE LAST ONE

Specifically in 2020, Marshall’s Bus & Coach has now technically purchased the first and last Custom SB50 school bus bodies in combination with Mercedes-Benz XBC1626 chassis. And the latter is overall the last SB50 ever to be built by the now Scott Dunn-owned Custom Bus Group.

Four years ago in 2016, Marshall’s was notified of a pending NSW Government Category 3 replacement and undertook discussions with Mercedes-Benz in regards to which options might be available to fulfil this requirement, it explains.

At the time, Mercedes-Benz was preparing to add its new XBC1626 to its ‘portal’ offerings as a Category 3 option, with Marshall’s Bus and Coach becoming the first bus operator to purchase an XBC1626 – and the first to order one with a Custom SB50 body, Custom confirms.

Since then, Marshall’s Bus and Coach has purchased a further 10 Mercedes-Benz O500RFs with SB50 bodies, plus two more XBC1626 chassis also with SB50 bodies.

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END OF AN ERA

Speaking about the delivery of the very last Custom SB50, Marshall’s Bus & Coach Company Pty Ltd director Peter Marshall said: "Marshall’s was very excited to receive the first SB50 on a Mercedes XBC chassis in 2016 and four years on we remain excited to have the last."

"We continue to receive positive feedback on the striking nature of the SB50s in our fleet.

"Whilst we eagerly await a closer look at the design of the new Custom-Denning body, we are sad to see the SB50 go.

"Over the years Marshall’s Bus & Coach has developed a reputation for being one of the most professionally operated bus businesses in the country," he stated.

"The styling and build quality offered by Custom continues to be of the highest standard available. The fact that the product is Australian made and the company has a good knowledge of what local operators need has always been appreciated," he explained.

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ABOUT MARSHALL’S

Marshall’s Bus & Coach Pty Ltd is a family owned and operated business, which has been serving the Moruya, NSW, area for the past 20 years, it states.

It offers 22 school services daily, servicing the area from Bodalla and Moruya, including Tuross Head and South Head Moruya for pick-up and delivery to schools in Bodalla, Moruya and Broulee, it explains.

Marshall’s operates modern seat-belted coaches, which are available for charter to any destination, it says.

The company specialises in school charter work from the South Coast to Canberra and Sydney. It is also available for excursions in Canberra, picking up from Canberra Airport as it is ACT Accredited, it confirms.

Marshall’s also specialises in travel to shows in Sydney and Canberra for group or individual bookings, it adds.

NB: Custom SB30 and SB400 bodies were also still available in 2009.

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