Volgren’s newest double-decker bus was the star attraction and big story of the AusTech Expo at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre last week.
The bus, being trialled by Public Transport Victoria in tandem with its new Regional Rail Link, garnered deep interest from the industry, the public and the media – not just for itself but as a leading-edge example of the capabilities of the local transport manufacturing industry.
AusTech is Australia’s premier Advanced Manufacturing and Machine Tool Exhibition, the only show in the country specifically targeted at the metalworking, machine tool and ancillary market. With hundreds of exhibitors, its Manufacturers Pavilion highlighted the capabilities of Australia’s precision engineering and advanced manufacturing industry.
But it’s fair to say Volgren stole the show.
The double-decker was given a two-page spread in the Age newspaper, a story in the Herald-Sun and reports on ABC Radio and Channel Seven – and was compared with the iconic double-deck buses of London and Hong Kong.
Perhaps the most pleasing positive response came from regular commuters and members of the public who were thrilled – and surprised – to find an Australian bus builder, based in Dandenong, was not only producing but exporting such state of the art vehicles. Evidence of this was in the comments section following the report by Age Transport Writer Adam Carey:
” ‘The bus was designed and manufactured in Dandenong by local bus body builder Volgren, which employs about 250 staff at its Dandenong plant and 500 Australia-wide…The company also exports…’ So good to read!” wrote Pluto
“Fantastic story. We can do anything here. Grow Australia with Australians…” added Neil, while Get Real commented: “Double decker buses will be a great addition to our public transport services. The fact that they are designed and manufactured locally in Dandenong is an added bonus toward local employment opportunities.”
The bus is the first of four Volgren is producing this year. Approved by Public Transport Victoria, it has passed all approvals required for on-road use and is being trialled by PTV in June in connection with the new Regional Rail Link – with the prospect of more to come in the future, depending on public demand.
The 88-seat bus, with total capacity for 111 passengers, will be operated by CDC Victoria which has routes in Melbourne’s west, Geelong and Ballarat, all of which will be served by the Regional Rail Link.
Public Transport Victoria is considering using the high-capacity bus to shuttle passengers between brand new railway stations at Wyndham Vale and Tarneit, which will open on June 21, and stations on the Werribee line. The double-decker is perfect for the task – it carries the equivalent of two standard route buses, at about two-thirds their cost and half their running cost.
Volgren chief executive Peter Dale told the Age that double-decker buses were iconic in other cities but were a largely untapped form of public transport in Australia. He expected the bus to be embraced by passengers.
“It has around 90 seats so when people get on a bus and travel a bit further, it is significantly more comfortable and safer,” Mr Dale said. “Our expectation is that this will be a very, very successful trial.”
Volgren is the leading company with expertise in manufacturing double-decker buses, exporting them to Singapore and Hong Kong.
It is also exporting articulated buses into Niigata in Japan – virtually doubling that nation’s supply of articulated – and is putting the first of 70 new low-floor articulated buses on to the PTA’s busiest routes in Perth.
“It is fantastic to see the recognition we are now getting for our world-leading buses and the way the public is embracing what they offer. Everyone at Volgren ought to be very proud.”
See The Age story here:
And Peter Dale’s interview on 774 ABC here: