TICKETS PLEASE: Bus driver Mike McNeill, who works for Bus Queensland, which won the state government grant to service the North West region.
BUS Queensland’s expansion into North West Queensland happened quickly – and it is renting buses for its Mount Isa services during the transition.
The company learned days before Christmas it was awarded the state government contract for its Mount Isa to Townsville and Brisbane services, which began on January 1.
General manager Vernon Alcantra said despite speculation otherwise, Bus Queensland would continue to carry freight – a service Greyhound previously provided.
“People were told we were not taking freight, that’s not true,” he said.
Senior Brisbane management including maintenance manager Mark Jones was staying in Mount Isa to ease the transition.
There have been challenges because the company only had three weeks to expand its services. Buses have been hired but the company would buy its own, Mr Alcantra said.
He said the service in outback Queensland was a six-year commitment.
After a transitional phase of about two months the company intends to use electronic tickets, which will ease a burden on administration and drivers.
Mr Alcantra said the company could also merge its services.
“We have two kinds of buses – tourist buses and essential buses,” he said.
“It amazes me we don’t join the two together.”
The buses leave from Outback at Isa, and Cloncurry Agencies. Mount Isa to Brisbane services leave at 6.50am from Mount Isa, and 8.10am from Cloncurry seven days a week. The Townsville service leaves 7.10am from Mount Isa, and 8.36am from Cloncurry on Tuesday, Friday and Sundays.