Well over 1500 delegates attended the 2015 Maintenance Conference and Bus Expo held at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre on July 8 and 9. This is a record attendance for this type of event in Australia, which has been hailed as a tremendous success by all operators and suppliers who attended.
The strength of the event was evidenced with almost 65% of total delegates having operator origins with the remainder being supplier delegates. The greater majority of total operator delegates hailed from Victoria: 38% metro areas and 35% rural/regional areas. However there was also a great representation from operators from other states and neighbouring countries: NSW 9%, Qld, 5.5%, SA 4.5%, NZ 2.7%, Tas 2.2%, WA 2.1% and NT/Other Overseas 1%.
The delegate attendance was complimented by over 130 of Australia's leading bus industry suppliers who exhibited the newest in technology and service including 90 buses and chassis.
All management and technical sessions were very well attended and as they were delivered among the exhibit there was always something to see and do, with exhibitors especially enjoying the continual delegate buzz and surrounding activity during the sessions and break times. The Management sessions on Network Service Planning highlighting the Government’s upcoming Regional Network Development Plan was of particular importance. The session on the Industry’s Wellness Taskforce on Thursday was also very well received.
The strength of the technical workshops was supported by standing room only crowds at most sessions; highlights were the Standard Hour Recap for Drivers, BIC Technical Update and Preventative Maintenance workshops.
Mark Donaldson VC held the undivided attention of a standing room only, capacity crowd during his opening keynote speech. Mark spoke of his challenging teenage years and his fierce desire to join the SAS and his eventual unplanned succession to become one of Australia’s most decorated soldiers. Mark’s detailed and humble account of his experiences certainly enriched the crowd’s understanding of Australia’s modern wartime story. On the following day Bomber Thompson provided an entertaining and insightful account of his AFL career and direct assessment of Essendon’s supplement scandal.
Robert Nicholas from Benalla Bus Lines was awarded the Apprentice of the Year Award and popular industry identity Bram Kefford was awarded the Industry Achiever Award for over 30 years of service to the industry.
The highlight of the event for the greater majority though was Keith Foote’s Induction as a Life Member of the Bus Association of Victoria. The award was presented the main dinner at the Crown Palladium by former BusVic Executive Director Kevin Norris, who delivered a powerful account of Keith’s unwavering loyalty to the industry and BusVic’s members.
His lasting legacy to BusVic was the building of the Annual maintenance Conference from humble beginnings to what was clearly the premier Bus Expo and Bus Industry Conference in Australia. He turned the event into a world class affair which was recognised nationally and internationally as an outstanding bus event.
Following this the 1000 dinner guests were treated to entertainment by James Galea (ably assisted by Andrew Cornwall), Damian Callinan and a pure vocal performance by Kate Ceberano who was a definite crowd favourite.
The BusVic Event App also provided a new technology for information gathering and sharing and was actively used by close to 600 delegates at the event, representing a great outcome for the resource given it is only the first year it has been used. The App is live for another 9 months at least so we encourage delegates to continue using it as an industry resource.
A huge thank you goes out to each of the speakers who presented at the conference, each of who are all experts in their fields and provided a great learning platform for those who attended.
Our Expo Committee also deserve our sincere appreciation, their dedication of numerous hours of work prior to and during the expo plus their expertise in constructing the programme topics and sessions ensured an event of great relevance and value for all.
The extremely positive feedback received suggests that the event delivered unprecedented quality and value to all that attended. Many referred to the event as the best expo and conference they had ever attended and this included any truck or motor show. BusVic wish to thank our Partners, all operators and other suppliers alike for their tremendous involvement in the event, we look forward to welcoming all back to our next conference and expo.