Bustech secures $45m deal to build 100 Metro buses in Tasmania

Elphinstone’s executive general manager Lee Whiteley, Tasmanian transport minister Rene Hidding and Transit Australia Group chairman Luke Gray
Elphinstone’s executive general manager Lee Whiteley, Tasmanian transport minister Rene Hidding and Transit Australia Group chairman Luke Gray

Transit Australia Group’s manufacturing arm Bustech has this week made history securing a contract to build 100 low emission buses for Tasmania’s Metro network.

The $45 million project marks the single biggest investment in public transport in Tasmania’s history. It is also the first time any state or national government in Australia has procured buses that are entirely made in Australia.

Bustech is Australia’s only original equipment manufacturer (OEM) with each bus built using chassis designed, engineered and made in-house.

The Metro contract will see Bustech partner with Tasmanian company Elphinstone Pty Ltd on the state’s North-West Coast to utilise existing capabilities while providing a boost to local manufacturing.

The four-year project is expected to create 40 new full-time jobs in Tasmania, including at least 24 jobs at Elphinstone and additional jobs throughout the local supply chain.

It is a similar formula Bustech applied successfully in South Australia, after forming a strategic partnership with Adelaide company Precision Components. The alliance secured a government grant supporting the build of environmentally friendly buses, including electric buses, for trial across Adelaide’s public transport network.

The initiative has already resulted in a further 50 buses ordered, helping to transition decades of advanced manufacturing expertise away from the South Australia’s declining automotive industry.

Adding to Bustech’s primary plant in Queensland, the new ventures provide a significant lift to Bustech’s annual production capacity, boosting the company’s ability to supply national and international markets.

Transit Australia Group chief executive officer Michael McGee said the Tasmania project was an exciting outcome for Australia’s manufacturing industry.

“We are delighted that the Tasmanian Government has recognised the superior build and weight reductions associated with our innovative XDI manufactured chassis,” Mr McGee says.

“It’s also great to see them support and encourage local jobs and skills growth in advanced manufacturing.”

Elphinstone executive general manager Lee Whiteley said the project would strengthen the company’s position and broaden manufacturing facilities.

“The advanced manufacturing training and skills developed through the Metro project, together with our existing expertise, will be important in securing other opportunities in similar markets and sectors,” Mr Whiteley says.

Mr McGee said the new ventures marked exciting new territory for Transit Australia Group.

“In 2015 we successfully launched Australia’s first electric bus,” he says.

“In Adelaide we are developing advanced manufacturing capabilities to produce next generation, environmentally friendly diesel and electric buses for the Australian market.

“Adding Tasmania to the mix provides unique opportunities to further develop our strategic supply chain and leverage off existing skill sets across different companies to enhance our product offerings.”

The first wave of new buses in the Metro fleet will be completed in the next 12 months.