Ventura Bus Lines
|Parent||Cornwall family (85%)
Intermediate Capital Group (15%)
|Service type||Bus & coach operator|
|Hubs||Chadstone Shopping Centre
Eastland Shopping Centre
Forest Hill Chase Shopping Centre
Southland Shopping Centre
|Fleet||308 (January 2014)|
|Chief executive||Andrew Cornwall|
Ventura was founded in December 1924 by Harry Cornwall, an employee of Track & Kintrack, St Kilda, but decided to form his own bus company when his employer refused to run a bus service along dirt roads through what was then Melbourne's outer east.
Cornwall began operating a bus route between Box Hill and Melbourne City Centre, and in 1930 began running buses between Box Hill and Mentone, which roughly equates to the eastern section of today’s SmartBus route 903. The first depot was behind the petrol station on the corner of Station Street and Canterbury Road, in Box Hill South. The business was named after Ventura County, California where Cornwall had spent time after serving in World War I.
In 1943 the Aspendale - Mordialloc service was acquired. In the late 1940s this was extended from Mordialloc to Mentone and in 1951 from Aspendale to Chelsea. Following the opening of Chadstone Shopping Centre in 1960 services from Burwood and South Oakleigh were added.
- Knibbs Bus Service with routes 225A Box Hill - Ferntree Gully and 226A Box Hill - Burwood in June 1954
- Box Hill Bus Lines with the Box Hill - Forest Hill service in February 1957
- Clarinda Transport with the Oakleigh - Glen Waverley service in May 1958
- High Street Road Bus Service from Reg Carter with the Glen Waverley - Glen Iris service in April 1968
In 1957 a new depot was opened on the corner of Centre and Warrigal Roads, Oakleigh. This was followed in the mid 1960s by a depot on Mahoneys Road, East Burwood to replace the original Box Hill depot. In 1969 the Mitcham routes of C Young were purchased followed in September 1970 by Boronia Bus Lines from Don Nugent with 12 routes.
In April 1987 Ventura acquired Bentleigh Bus Lines with three routes, and in December 1987 Hawthorn Bus Services, Rennies Bus Services, and Willis Bus Services all from Vic Haoust. As a result of these purchases, it built a new depot at Knoxfield to replace East Burwood.
In 1988, the Metropolitan Transit Authority called for tenders on all of Melbourne's bus routes. At the completion of the tender process, seven bus routes previously operated by Ventura, and three previously operated by Waverley Transit were tendered out to Quince's Scenicruisers.
Waverley Transit launched a Supreme Court challenge to the results of the tendering process. The verdict deemed that the State Government had acted inappropriately during the tendering process and restored the bus routes to Ventura and Waverley Transit. In the wake of this verdict, the Met launched an appeal, with Waverley Transit launching a counter-appeal; the cases lasted into the early 1990s, with Waverley Transit ultimately successful.
In February 2000 Ventura purchased Mount Dandenong Passenger Service from the Frazer family. In 2004 it purchased National Bus Company from the National Express Group becoming the largest private bus operator in Melbourne.
On 5 August 2002, the State Government introduced the first SmartBus service (as a trial project) run by Ventura that replaced the old timetable of the 703 Middle Brighton station – Blackburn station with a new, high frequency service on route 703.
Due to the success of the initial SmartBus trial (patronage increased by up to 25%), the State Government introduced another service that Ventura operated, the former route 700 from Box Hill station to Mordialloc station via Warrigal Road. This was upgraded in April 2009 to the Red Orbital 903 service from Altona station to Mordialloc station via Sunshine, Essendon, Preston, Heidelberg, Doncaster, Chadstone and Warrigal Road.
In December 2009 Ventura purchased US Bus Lines from the Pulitano Group, operating route services in the outer east region. In July 2010, Ventura acquired Ivanhoe Bus Company, operating in the north and north east region.
In August 2013, as the result of the re-tendering of a number of Melbourne bus routes, the operation of SmartBus Route 903, and the Doncaster & North Fitzroy depots, were transferred to Transdev Melbourne, along with 346 buses.
From the 1940s, Ventura standardised on Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation bodied Bedford OBs. After purchasing a variety of AECs, Albions, Bedfords and Leylands in the 1960s, Ventura settled on heavy duty Leyland Worldmaster, Leopard and Tiger chassis for its purchases in the 1970s and 1980s.
When Ventura sought new buses in 1992 Leyland had ceased production, so two Scania L113s and a Volvo B10M with Volgren bodies were purchased for evaluation. Ventura settled on Scanias after the evaluation period and have since been the main chassis used in the Ventura fleet with 293 in the fleet as at May 2013. It has also purchased 107 DesignLine bodied MANs. Since 2013 the fleet has switched to Volvo B7RLE's with Volgren bodywork.
Fleet livery had long been light and dark blue with yellow signwriting. This was replaced in 2012 by a white with dark blue and yellow flashes livery.
- "The Ventura Story - 75 Years of Moving People" Australian Bus Panorama December 1999 page 19
- "Stats and facts about Ventura". Ventura Bus Lines. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
- Melbourne Metropolitan Bus Operators and Fleet Listings. Melbourne: Bus & Coach Society of Victoria. 1991. p. 64.
- "Victorian Buses in the Eighties" Australian Bus Panorama issue 6/8 May 1991 page 14
- "National Express sells buses" The Age
- Alternative Fuels Ventura Bus Lines
- "Sale of MountDandybus" Australian Bus Panorama issue 15/6 June 2000 page 23
- "New driving force behind Melbourne's buses" The Age 6 September 2004
- Ventura acquires National Bus Company Victoria Australasian Bus & Coach
- Grenda Announcement 18/11/2011 Grenda Corporation 18 November 2011
- The man with the golden handshake The Australian 10 March 2012
- "Family Business: Ventura Bus Lines" Business Spectator 25 October 2012
- Carey, Adam (2013-04-26). "Anger as French company lands bus contract". The Age. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
- "Ventura Bus Lines" Australian Bus Panorama issue 8/4 December 1992 page 50
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