Scania powers new Huonville-to-Hobart express bus service
Tasmanian metropolitan and regional bus operator Tassielink has taken delivery of two new Scania-powered Express-bodied buses to operate a new weekday express service linking Huonville and Hobart.
The new express service has been designed to help to reduce traffic congestion in the Greater Hobart area by promoting and encouraging public transport options. Commuters have been demanding more express routes and greater comfort.
Huonville is located southwest of Hobart in the picturesque Huon Valley and is a burgeoning dormitory suburb for Hobart, 38 km away, as well as being a popular tourist destination.
The Express buses are low floor accessible which means easier access for mobility impaired people, and also offer plenty of underfloor luggage space, designed to accommodate electric scooters or folding bicycles, as well as suitcases and back-packer rucksacks. The interior fit-out includes coach seats, seat belts, parcel racks, luggage bins, USB chargers and air conditioning appropriate for Tasmanian weather conditions. These are the final two of an order for eight buses delivered by Scania to Tassielink over the past two years, comprising four 320 hp 4x2 Euro 6 and four 310 hp 4x2 Euro 5, 5-cylinder 9.0-litre vehicles. Featuring Scania Euro 6 compliant diesel engines – the most advanced diesel engines available, the low floor urban buses will be highly fuel efficient and have cleaner exhaust emissions.
Tassielink now operates 30 buses and employs more than 50 people and is recruiting additional drivers to operate the new Huonville service and other services across regional Tasmania. Shane Dewsbery (known as ‘Bubbles’ in the industry), Managing Director of Tassielink, said his team had put a lot of work into the design of the new vehicles. “We have designed them to cope with our local roads and climate, and we worked closely with Scania and the body-builder. Most of our fleet is Scania powered and the drivers are very familiar with how they drive. Feedback from patrons has been very positive, particularly regarding comfort. “We selected Scania as the supplier of the chassis and powertrain because we have had a long and successful relationship with them, and to us these relationships are very important.
“We have worked with Julian Gurney, Trevor O’Brien and Jamie Atkinson for many years and we trust their advice. We have open and close communication with them, they give us excellent back-up with parts and maintenance information and we see them as a critical part of our ongoing operations. When we wanted changes to the specification to meet our needs, Scania was flexible enough to meet our requirements. They understand our working environment and so they know when we need parts to have them ready. Scania also works well with our nominated bodybuilders. The new express services will run Monday to Friday at peak times and will do other work for us during the middle part of the day,” Shane said.
These buses are the first additional services being rolled out over the next 12 months as part of the Tasmanian Government’s Southern Projects initiative. “This is all about encouraging more people to use public transport and managing traffic flow along Hobart’s southern corridor by providing an end-to-end solution with faster and more frequent bus services. The package of integrated projects includes a dedicated transit lane on the Southern Outlet and clearways and bus priority measures on Macquarie and Davey Streets to improve the flow of buses to their destination; and park and ride facilities at Huntingfield and Stage 2 at Firthside, which will start construction soon,” said Michael Ferguson, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport in Tasmania.
“When complete, they will provide the growing population in the Huon Valley and Kingborough regions with real choice on how they travel and an attractive alternative to private cars. Our plan is to not only increase the use of public transport by commuters travelling to work from 6.4 per cent to 10 per cent but to also reduce single occupant car journeys travelling into Hobart,” the Minister said.
“We anticipate the buses will cover around 120,000 km a year, and will be serviced according to Scania’s schedule,” Shane Dewsbery said. “We anticipate covering around 1 million km over the next decade and if our experience with Scania to date is any guide, the new buses will do this easily. We have 10-year-old Scania-powered buses on our fleet now and they haven’t needed refurbishment and they are still good on fuel. We get the weekly fleet reports from Scania as to how the vehicles are performing. Every Monday I look at the charts. It’s good to have a snapshot of performance that we can compare week-to-week and be able to see any exceptions, and it provides good information for the workshop in terms of identifying any issues before they become problems,” he said.
Scania Bus and Coach National Sales and Contracts Manager Jamie Atkinson said that the strength of the relationship between Scania and Tassielink was indicative of how the company does business and uses its full resources to ensure the customer gets what they want.
“We are always pleased to support our customers with technical assistance when they come to plan new vehicles, and we have a strong, experienced and stable team in our Bus Division who are able to leverage their knowledge for the customer’s benefit. When we take on a project such as these new buses for Tassielink, we not only want to ensure uptime through robust engineering but also ease of maintenance and economy of operation. We’re confident that not only will the residents of Huonville enjoy the convenience of an express service into Hobart, but also the comfort of a chassis that has been engineered to suit the roads on which they’ll travel. If they never notice what’s going on below the floor of the bus, our job will have been done,” Jamie said.