Prior to 1997, Bribie Island Bus and Coach was owned and operated by Barry and Glynis Muir, providing minimal local and urban services to Caboolture rail together with school services to the two primary and one secondary school on the Island. Bribie Island is one of only two islands in Queensland which is connected to the mainland by a bridge, which opened in 1963.
In September, 1997, George and Patricia Lee, bus operators from Picton, New South Wales, purchased the business from the Muir’s and renamed it Bribie Island Coaches. The new shopping complex on Bribie Island had just been opened some six months before this purchase and has since doubled in size.
Being aware of the future growth of Bribie Island and the villages off the island, the Lee’s purchased more adjacent land and building, to create a depot capable of operating 30 buses, with full mechanical workshops and washing facilities.
Queensland Rail realised the growth potential on and off the Island and in 1999, approached Bribie Island Coaches to form an extension of the Caboolture rail service to Bribie Island. This service commenced in November, 1999, and was known as the “Trainlink service” which operated seven days a week, using the first low floor wheel chair accessible bus to provide safe and comfortable travel for the elderly and those confined to wheelchairs. State of the art ‘ERG” ticket machines were introduced by Bribie Island Coaches, being the only bus operator in the world to operate two different fare scales on the same ticket machine.
Bribie Island Coaches were using integrated ticketing long before Translink came into operation in July, 2004, introducing their integrated ticketing system.
In March, 2009, George and Patricia Lee sold the business to Des and Carol Trotter, bus operators from Victoria, who continued to operate under the name of Bribie Island Coaches.
During the period of 1997 and 2009 with increased population, both on and off the Island, additional services were introduced in the urban timetable and particularly for school students. Student numbers increased to the schools on the Island but a more noticeable number of students travelled to the schools and colleges in Caboolture, including the growth to St Michael’s college were the Mediaeval Fair and tournament is held each year near the Abbey Museum.
The fleet during this time grew from six buses to twenty buses with an average age of six and a half years. The majority of the growth was experienced in school travel, with a minimum increase to the fleet of one bus per year and in some years two to three additional buses were necessary to meet the growth in urban and school travel. Since March, 2009 the fleet has grown to twenty eight buses, ten of which are used for urban services and eighteen buses used for school travel. The wheelchair accessible buses have grown to thirteen, which means all of the urban services are provided with safe and comfortable low floor buses making access easy for wheelchairs, the elderly and mothers with young families.
Passenger numbers have increased over this period with the population of Bribie Island growing from some 12500 residents in 1997 to over 17500 residents to date and still growing, not to mention the growth being experienced with the development of new estates at Sandstone Point and Ningi along the Bribie Island Road to Caboolture.
Passenger numbers have increased since 1997 with approximately 14,500 urban passengers per year to 353,055 per year and school travel from 29,400 per year to 354,745 per year, in 2011.
In August, 2010, a new Park’n’Ride facility was opened to the travelling public on Bribie Island providing a one hundred and twenty space car park and a loading platform for three buses.
The period of 1997 to 2012, has seen many changes to Bribie Island Coaches from a fleet of old vehicles to the modern state of the art fleet currently operating. Staff numbers have grown from ten to forty five. The depot facilities have had to increase and be updated to keep up with this growth.
The dedication of the drivers, mechanics, maintenance and administrative staff is what has impressed the people of Bribie Island who are proud of their local bus service and the friendly drivers and support staff who endeavour to make their journey as enjoyable and safe as possible.
Bribie Island Coaches is endeavouring to grow with the community in continuing to provide safe and comfortable travel in clean and well maintained vehicles with pleasant and helpful staff.