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Reliability drives loyalty

Neil Dyson is a Director of Dyson Group, one of Melbourne’s oldest and largest family-owned and run bus companies providing route buses, school and charter buses as well as train replacement for V-line.

How is the relationship with Scania?

We continue to buy Scania product pretty much exclusively, and will take on about 30 new vehicles this calendar year, mostly route and school buses and one coach for V-Line work. We have a good relationship with Scania across the full range of their services; from new vehicle specification and delivery, to parts and service back-up, throughout the life of these vehicles.

What bodies are you using?

Currently we are using Volgren, IRIZAR and Coach Concepts coachbuilders and will be introducing some Gemilang product into the fleet this year, riding on Scania chassis.

Which combination is working well for you in school bus work?
We have had success with the Scania-powered IRIZAR i6 and are continuing to add them to the fleet. We have around 50 now. It has been good for us, they run well and the kids like them, and we have a standardised specification on the Scania K 310 Euro 5 chassis.

What are the advantages of the Scania K 310/IRIZAR i6 combination?

We get good fuel consumption and reliability. Fuel is in the high 20s and low 30s (litres) per 100 km, and they are easy to drive. This gives us additional operational versatility, as we can access a larger pool of our drivers for IRIZAR work. These Scania-powered buses also have enough power even when fully loaded and can easily keep up with traffic.

Has the Scania driver training improved your fuel efficiency and safety?
Yes. We have seen some improvement in fuel efficiency. We have been carefully measuring fuel consumption performance and can see that the training is helping. From a safety perspective, we’re covering 2.5 million km per month in 600 vehicles so there will always be incidents, particularly when buses are running on rail replacement and drivers are on unfamiliar roads. But the driver training does make them more aware of their surroundings, and we have noticed a welcome decrease in accidents, particularly among the metro fleet.

You have a lot of vehicles and some have clocked up big km. How does the Scania engine exchange programme work for you?
We have been exchanging engines in the drive-in/drive-out concept for a few years and we’ll do between 6 and 10 this year. It’s a good programme that keeps our workshops free to focus on regular maintenance and the exchange programme gives us a fast turn-around.

What’s in your future plans regarding alternative fuel or propulsion?

Environmental issues are taking a more important place in our discussions. We introduced Scania Euro 6 compliant vehicles for certain tasks. And we’re already having internal dialogue regarding hybrid buses, and we’ll be looking at electric vehicles as well. We’re always keen to look at innovative ideas.

Have you been impacted by patrons opting for private transport carriers such as Uber?

We haven’t noticed any real impact. It’s still far cheaper to travel by bus. We are seeing an increase in patronage over time as the population increases along with congestion.

How has the COVID-19 virus affected Dysons?

We have continued to run contracted services, but school and charter work has dropped off, though some schools are returning (at the time of writing in May). Route patronage is down by a significant amount because many people are not at work/school or travelling to the shops.

What steps have you taken to protect your patrons?

We are doing extra cleaning of vehicles and premises to reduce the potential for transmission.

Have you had any cases within your staff?
At this stage, with 1100 staff, we have fortunately suffered no confirmed cases.