Specialist British small bus builder/converter Mellor has taken the opportunity to relaunch the brand down under at the Melbourne Bus Expo spruiking its ability to provide big bus space and comfort in a ‘low floor Mini bus’ size.

The British company which adapts chassis from the likes of Mercedes Benz Sprinter, Fiat Ducato and Iveco Daily, is now being distributed by local company Bus Corp Oceania and offers a variety of configurations from 18 to 28 seats and is particularly pitching its buses to on demand services  as well as traditional shuttles, clubs, retirement villages and schools.

Steve Reeves, the head international business development manager for Mellor Bus says that  the company is well positioned to answer what could be a global explosion in on demand bus services that will enable operators to run smaller more efficient buses for last and first mile and on demand services feeding larger buses on trunk routes in and around urban operations.

“There is likely to be a rapid expansion in this area  with what I call taxi buses up to 21 seats with on demand operations feeding big bus operations on trunk routes,” said Steve Reeves.

Reeves recently took a year off from Mellor and its parent company Woodall Nicholson to study social enterprise and to get a better view on where on demand bus operations might head.

“The key is society demand for a disruptor, when society wants something like Uber or Airbnb it is because  the current service is not delivering what they want,” Reeves said.

He believes a big IT operator will team up with OEMs to deliver  the sort of on demand and response bus services that so many consumers are now demanding.

An example of  Mellors thinking and research according to Reeves is its Fiat Ducato based Pico which he says is ‘an essential step towards the supply of a universal and dedicated on-demand vehicle with no barriers to access’. 

“The Pico design team has drawn concepts from Mellor’s 50-year experience in building buses for both the commercial and social sectors,” Reeves said.

“Mellor agrees with transport planners that the successful introduction of app-driven on-demand passenger services is an essential way to provide positive impacts on urban congestion and the knock-on effects of pollution,” he added.

“For experimental Demand Response Transport (DRT) schemes to become fully mainstream and unlock their true potential passenger experience and specifically easy access is a key consideration,” Reeves said

“Our research suggests that past DRT experiments have tested on-demand and shared-ride systems but have failed to deliver sustainably.

“Recently, original equipment manufacturers have formed new alliances with technology companies. These partnerships hope to build fully managed services that may finally release DRT potential but have yet to deliver an elegant access solution for all of societies passengers.

Mellor says its specialty is low floor buses for both the social and commercial passenger sectors and that years of campaigning have secured equal access rights for the disabled, young mothers and the elderly. 

“To protect this we have developed the Pico to give operators a new choice of vehicle, one that continues t universal access originally developed on large buses,” Reeves said.

The Pico design considers the operational and social opportunities that are enabled by an eight-passenger taxi-bus with easy access and says it will be available in both Euro 6 diesel and electric drive.

Reeves says Pico delivers a genuinely universal taxi-bus specifically equipped for the  emerging app-driven, first-mile last-mile markets in both the social and commercial sectors.