By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: Paul Aldridge, Ben Hosking + courtesy Transdev Australasia

‘If it looks too good to be true, it probably is’ – heard that? It’s the starting point for many an inconvenient truth.

In ABC Issue 406 we check out Transdev Australasia's Aurora e-bus project, test the Iveco Shuttle 22, visit St Mary Bus NSW in Sydney and much more.

Was the origin of the Covid-19 coronavirus some lab in Wuhan, China? A seemingly belated push from multiple G7 countries now to seek out such truth might just be that – belated. And maybe like that scene in 1981’s cinematic epic Raiders of the Lost Ark, where they realise the stick for the ancient headpiece needed to be a bit shorter for the sunlight to accurately shine through it in the ‘map room’, they’ll be "digging in the wrong place".

Why? The ‘virus’ came from the dark recesses of someone’s mind! Or more likely a collection of minds. Or such is what recent media reports imply.

News stories across the political divide have been quick to cover the gamut of emails released involving head US medical expert Anthony Fauci – and whether US taxpayer funds were used for ‘gain of function’ research of such a virus. Either way, it’s not a good look.

Given the lives lost and financial impact of Covid across the world – particularly God-knows how many small-to-medium business (like bus operators) going under, it’s a topic that’s going to be monitored by billions as this news further unfolds.

Will it lead to ‘an inconvenient truth’? If so, will that truth be twisted or glossed over? Time will tell…



Speaking of inconvenient truths, word around the bus-industry campfire is it would be great if governments in general – regardless of political conviction – had genuinely sought more (if any) counsel from bus and coach manufacturers, when it comes to all things e-mobility and the impact and logistics of it all.

With appropriate charging infrastructure to be rolled out en mass as e-fleets increase, and the electric grid implications and costs operators face, or what’s needed to sort hydrogen production and supply effectively, etc., perhaps many manufacturers are caught out a bit by a glut of good and modern diesel product that’s still usable in this region. Product that operators are baulking at buying because of the EV push. Or, conversely, operators baulking at EVs because of the above. Anyway, just their ‘two cents’ worth’.

My two cents? Get your cash registers out.

So, there’s a lot of talk about carbon emissions, but not much worldwide about carbon ‘absorption’, Or nothing near parity.

That is, there’s no point trying to reduce carbon emissions if we aren’t properly protecting large tracts of the planet that can absorb it – like rainforests (ie. The Amazon). Or is emissions reduction just targeting ‘cleaner’ city air to woo votes? Hope not.



Also, in more than 10 years of looking, I can’t really find any convincing rationale for large-scale vehicle battery recycling. Reuse, yes! I’m au fait with residential ex-bus battery stacks – like computer hard drive NAS does for data storage – but what happens after that – the recycling?

I found one company that’s interestingly trialling micro-nutrients/fertiliser from used alkaline batteries on a wheat field, but is there anything like that for lithium-based commercial vehicle batteries? Or is future toxic landfill – which kind of defeats the purpose – the only upshot of e-bus batteries and e-mobility overall? Hmm...

Any companies in the battery recycling field? I’m all ears. PS: And don’t start me on child slave labour for mining battery metals/materials in some countries, either! Gees...

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Amongst the 76 pages cover-to-cover of Issue 406 of ABC magazine is a slightly different mix, covering topics, tech and pure emotions permeating the Australasian bus industry at present.

Transdev Australasia’s Aurora Project, which is its long-planned strategy to bring e-mobility to its public transport structure ‘Down Under’, kicks things off. 

With some key partners such as Volgren and ABB, there will be lots more coming out of the Aurora project, so we’ll keep you abreast of what’s what as it all unfolds. Check the current story out pages 32–38.


Further in we visit a bus operator with a very interesting story. St Mary Bus NSW, with a solid commercial vehicles background backed by driver training expertise, had a long-held passion to ‘get into buses and run a bus company’ - which has now come good for Sydney operator Ehab Ibrahim. He was able to pick up a few cool buses with the market down, be it from others retiring or otherwise.

It hasn’t all been easy going for the ‘start-up’, but you’ve got to applaud his commitment and determination to follow a bus dream, and his call for governments to help the smaller operators by helping steer some of the contract work away from bigger players should strike a chord with many such operators doing it tough out there in the field. Check out his story pages 40–46.


Test drives? You got it! A new and interesting combatant in the very critical MaaS/on-demand bus segment. The recently released Iveco Daily Shuttle 22 prides itself on safety, room, efficiency and a host of other benefits to operators.

Our tester Paul Aldridge was lucky enough to be in Melbourne to drive it and a few others just before things went pear-shaped in that state, That’s on 48–54.

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Quite a few In Focuses this issue, There’s Transdev’s e-bus trial entering ‘Phase 3’; Volvo and TAFE NSW have teamed up to start some inspired e-bus training courses; both Transit Systems’ blindingly awesome Indigenous-themed buses and CDC NSW’s $750,000 commitment over three years to the Kinchela Boys’ Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC) are noble moves in honouring the ‘Stolen Generation’ and pursuing Aboriginal ‘reconciliation’ objectives in the modern arena. Check all those out starting from page 22.

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Our 2021 guide to passenger information systems and May deliveries data rounds things out. And that’s game.

The Victorian lockdown’s just ended, but it’s been tough on our compadres, so I’ll be raising a glass or two in their honour.

With mental health what it is, if there’s anything really getting anyone down and you are desperate for a good listener – I’m your man. Just drop me a line.

I’ll just grunt and mumble in agreement and just hear you out, of course. Easy peasy. The flipside? You might have to listen to my depressing stuff, so be warned. And trust me, I’m pretty sure I’d win. ;)

Until the next thrilling instalment...

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