Solid as a rock
Harry & Petra Miller’s school bus services are growing rapidly and are now powered by Scania.
From early beginnings in 2005, when he started with one bus, Harry Miller’s bus service, based outside Wagga Wagga at The Rock, has grown to a fleet of 16 vehicles: from minibuses to full-size heavy-duty coaches. Recent replacement and additional full-size buses have been supplied via Scania and will be for some time to come.
‘Scania provides the chassis and powertrain for a very good CAT4 school bus. I was introduced to Scania by a salesman that I knew, and we are sold on Scania now for all our larger bus replacements. We have three Scanias on the fleet: a 2016 with a Volgren body, a 2019 with an Irizar i6S and a new 2021 Touring. All the Scanias are fitted with McConnell’s Educator 2/3 seats. The Scanias are very easy to drive, they return good fuel and give good service. They are an easy bus to have on the fleet,” Harry says. “I have my own workshop, but we use O’Reilly’s Truck Repairs in Wagga, the Scania agent for any warranty work and parts supply, and they are very good for us. If they don’t have the parts on the shelf, they can source them quickly.”
The business has grown by absorbing nearby routes and now has 11 school run contracts which provide the lion’s share of the business, fortuitously allowing Harry and his team to operate almost normally through the COVID pandemic.
“Charter work dropped off, but the school runs have continued, thankfully. Our longest runs are around 170 km per day, and all bar two runs are on dirt roads. The local councils are very responsive and good at keeping the roads maintained,” Harry says.
The first Scania with the Volgren body arrived in 2016 and has covered around 50,000 km annually, with the Irizar covering 35-40,000 km with no problems. The new Touring has only recently arrived but has made a very good early impression.
“The new Scania Touring is a pleasure to drive, and my drivers love it,” Harry says. “It’s only very new but it is returning good fuel which is very important to me as fuel is the second biggest expense for the business after the drivers. I have a good group of drivers, most of them have been with me for a while,” he says.
As a family-owned business, Harry has brought his son Josh onto the staff of 20, as an apprentice mechanic. “Scanias are very easy to work on from a technical point of view. There’s lots of space around the engine, which always makes a difference. You can get the jobs done so much faster and it doesn’t frustrate the technicians,” Harry says. “Our relationship with Logan Hoser, who is the Account Manager for our region, has been very good. He’s easy to get hold of and takes an interest in our business. He came around several times when he had the Touring demonstrator bus and we were impressed with it and when we need a new bus quickly, the Touring was perfect. We also used Scania Finance for the purchase of the buses, and SFA’s Aaron O’Neill has been very helpful too. The Scania guys are good to work with,” Harry says.
According to Logan Hoser, Scania Account Manager for New South Wales, the buses delivered to Miller’s so far have performed to expectation. “We ensure we tailor our offer to meet the needs of our customers,” Logan says. “Harry does a lot of dirt driving and we’re confident that our chassis, powertrain and the bodybuilders we work with have solutions that will provide durable, reliable service for many years. Some of Harry’s school routes are quite long and so the vehicles must be reliable: We can’t have the kids turning up late for school. The buses have to be able to soak up the worst of the dirt roads without fatigue, five days a week,” Logan says.
“Harry has enjoyed good service from our independent authorised dealer in Wagga Wagga, O’Reilly’s, who have been very helpful. As Harry continues to replace his fleet, we’ll be there to offer him more of the same dependability, fuel efficiency and customer service that has served him well over the past five years,” Logan says.