Melbourne’s largest bus operator, Ventura Bus Lines, has announced a new four year extension of its bus supply agreement with Australia’s largest bus body builder, Volgren.

Volgren will deliver a minimum of 21 route buses, primarily on Scania chassis, each year until 2022 under the new contract.

Michael Hourn, Ventura’s general manager for fleet and maintenance said the new deal would be a first for the company, whose procurement committee has previously reviewed supply agreements on a more regular basis.

“Traditionally we go through the process every two years to maximise purchasing power, however this time around our procurement committee was open to longer agreements anywhere up to four years.”

Hourn said with a number of key personnel on its procurement committee they consider price in conjunction with quality,

“We can get a cheaper product elsewhere but we won’t compromise on quality,” he said.

“We look at run rate and by that we mean are we happy with the product and we’re really happy with the product and we buy the best product for the best price.”

“The Optimus low-floor is an excellent city bus and it’s widely recognised as one of the better products going around.”

Under the new supply agreement signed in August, Volgren will deliver 18 vehicles by Christmas this year.

The buses are predominately government contracted replacements and the agreement includes a commitment to partner with Volgren on growth buses as well. This could involve the annual supply number reaching into the high 20s. The majority will be low-floor route buses but there will be an average of two articulated buses per year.

Hourn said while the specifications of the new buses are similar to those of the current Volgren fleet, designers and engineers from both organisations will continue to work collaboratively to deliver a modern, safer and cleaner bus.

“The new buses will include some new anti-vandalism measures including a spray-on coating which will prevent graffiti ink from adhering. It’s quite exciting, although it’s early days.”

Hourn said that they had also modified the seating configuration; a change he thinks will make a noticeable difference in lowering customer falls.

There are also new safety measures for drivers around the drivers security screen area.

Peter Dale, CEO of Volgren, said the Ventura-Volgren partnership has become stronger over the years thanks to a shared confidence that one party can always expect value from the other.

“The value we provide to Ventura comes from an unrivalled whole-of-life bus cost. We are proud to offer a bus that, with its advanced engineering and unique CO-BOLT design, delivers the lowest cost of life savings to Ventura,” Dale said.

He added that one of the advantages of an extended partnership between Ventura and Volgren will be continuity – for drivers, passengers, administrators and local businesses who rely on the collaboration to employ significant numbers of people and, in some cases, to remain feasible.

“But continuity doesn’t mean complacency. We will, as we’ve always done, listen to Ventura’s feedback, value their input and continue to advance in the areas of body design, engineering, after sales service and technological innovation.”