“The drivers are currently lining up for the opportunity to drive either of the two new Volvo buses we have, such is the talk around the yard regarding how easy and responsive the B7R is to operate,” says Pat Charnock, Manager of Cowra Bus Service.
Located in the remote Central West region of New South Wales, 317 km from Sydney, distance to the closest dealership becomes a crucial factor to consider when buying a bus.
“Apart from being impressed with the overall package, the other reason for purchasing the Volvo buses is that we have a Volvo dealer in Cowra that can handle any service issues that cannot be rectified on site. This was a big consideration for us when you think of the distances we may have had to travel if there was not a dealer in the town”, says Charnock.
“Since we first showed an interest in Volvo we have been very impressed with the service we have received pre- and post-sale. Nothing has been too much trouble for Tony Lowrey(Regional Service Manager) and the team at Volvo,” continues Charnock.
“When Pat picks up the phone for assistance someone will always be there to give assistance,” confirms Lowrey.
“ The Volvo Bus product is well established in Australia and will be well into the future. Our dealership support in Australia is superior to any other manufacturer. Even a country town like
Cowra has its very own Volvo Truck & Bus Service agent,” continues Lowrey.
Cowra Bus Service has provided transport services to Cowra and the district for six decades making it Cowra’s longest operating public transport service. It first commenced trading back in the 1950’s under the name DA & IG Thomas, running the Walli bus service. By the early 1990’s, the business had grown from a single bus service to seven non-commercial services, eight commercial school services and a “Hail & Ride” service for the general public.
The company remained a traditional family business for more than four decades before four non- commercial contracts were sold to private operators and the remainder of the business was sold to a Sydney-based firm in 2001.
In 2004, Cowra Bus Service changed hands again when J & B Thompson purchased the business and Cowra’s longest running bus service became once again locally owned. J & B Thompson have operated a successful Livestock Transport business in Cowra since 1935 and are a well-known and respected family business in the district. Today the business operates 19 school services and the Hail & Ride town service.
In addition to the core of the business, providing school services, Cowra Bus Service also offers charter runs for excursions and group events. It also operates a tour service under the name of Cowra Travel Pty Ltd, which provides day trips and extended tours for the local community and the district.
“Not only does the B7R suit our operations well, delivering a quite smooth ride and comfort in our school services, it also comes with A/C, air bags, internal luggage racks, large space framed bins and seatbelts making it very suitable for charter services outside of school hours; an advantage compared to other local operators”, says Charnock.
The B7R chassis is simultaneously robust and heavy duty but also lightweight in design allowing a lighter tare weight. With the right body, this permits the vehicle to carry even more school kids with all of their bags without going overweight. This is highly beneficial to country school bus operators also doing charter work into cities.
The biggest challenge for Cowra Bus Service is staff recruitment and, as a consequence, training costs and reporting costs. Staff recruitment will continue to be an issue for small operators given limitations in hours on offer for drivers and viable opportunities for additional work.
To conquer these challenges, Cowra Bus service strives to provide the best service possible, with the best staff in the best buses. By doing this, the company believes opportunities will present themselves allowing business to grow.