Ventura Bus Lines

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Ventura Bus Lines
Ventura bus 1463, based in Lilydale, Melbourne.jpg
A Ventura bus operating route 670 in Melbourne's Eastern suburbs.
ParentVentura Motors
FoundedDecember 1924
Service typeBus & coach operator
Capel Sound
Fleet887 (November 2019)

Ventura Bus Lines is the largest provider of public bus transport services in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Its fleet of 1973 buses operate 905 out of 12 depots and move on average 36 million people a year. The company also provides V/Line, event transportation, school bus and aged care services.[1]


Early history[edit]

V/Line Volgren bodied Volvo B13R at Koo-Wee-Rup in April 2016
DesignLine-bodied MAN 16.240
in SmartBus livery in August 2009
Custom Coaches bodied Scania L94UB at Heatherdale in September 2009

Ventura was founded in December 1924 by Henry Cornwall. The name and company colours (dark blue, light blue and yellow) derived from Ventura County, California where Cornwall had spent time after serving in World War I. A former employee of Track & Kintrack, St Kilda, Harry 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.[2][3]

Cornwall began operating a bus route between Box Hill and Melbourne City Centre, and in 1930 began running buses between Box Hill and Mentone. The first depot was behind the petrol station on the corner of Station Street and Canterbury Road, in Box Hill South.


In 1943, the Aspendale to 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.[2]

In the 1950s and 1960s, a number of operations were purchased:[2][4]

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, Burwood East 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.[2]

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.[4][5] As a result of these purchases, it built a new depot at Knoxfield to replace Burwood East.

Further growth[edit]

In 2000, Ventura introduced the first Australian buses to run on ethanol fuel.[6]

In February 2000, Ventura purchased Mount Dandenong Passenger Service from the Frazer family.[7] In 2004 it purchased National Bus Company from National Express becoming the largest private bus operator in Melbourne.[8][9][10]

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 to 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 January 2012, Ventura purchased Grenda Transit from Grenda Corporation.[11][12][13] As part of the financing of the deal a 15% stake in Ventura was sold to the Intermediate Capital Group.[14]

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 and North Fitzroy depots, were transferred to Transdev Melbourne, along with 346 buses.[15]

In 2017 to 2018, the Victorian Government contracted Ventura to run rail replacement services while the level crossing and metro tunnel projects were underway.


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.[2]

In 1973, Ventura took delivery of the first of many Denning coaches. It would build up a sizeable fleet before scaling back its charter operations in the early 1990s.[2]

The purchases of Bentleigh Bus Lines/Hawthorn Bus Service saw the fleet expand further. Many non-Leyland buses joined the fleet including Bedfords, Elwoods, Mercedes-Benzs and Volvo B10Ms.

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.[16] 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 Volgren bodied Volvo B7RLE and Scania K310UBs. As at October 2018 the fleet stood at 883.[17]

In 2017, the company began to integrate technology to track buses in real time across its route services.

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. New deliveries are receiving the Public Transport Victoria white and orange livery with existing buses being progressively repainted. Buses which will be replaced in the short term will retain the previous Grenda livery, the former Two-tone blue livery, the former blue, red and white livery of US Bus Lines or the Ivanhoe Bus Company green and yellow livery. Eight buses are painted in SmartBus livery for use on the Route 900 service, two are in V/Line livery and a plain white livery with Ventura signage has been adopted for school/charter vehicles


  1. ^ "Australian Bus Fleet Lists - Victorian Operator Fleet Lists".
  2. ^ a b c d e f "The Ventura Story - 75 Years of Moving People" Australian Bus Panorama December 1999 page 19
  3. ^ "Stats and facts about Ventura" (PDF). Ventura Bus Lines. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  4. ^ a b Melbourne Metropolitan Bus Operators and Fleet Listings. Melbourne: Bus & Coach Society of Victoria. 1991. p. 64.
  5. ^ "Victorian Buses in the Eighties" Australian Bus Panorama issue 6/8 May 1991 page 14
  6. ^ Alternative Fuels Ventura Bus Lines
  7. ^ "Sale of MountDandybus" Australian Bus Panorama issue 15/6 June 2000 page 23
  8. ^ "National Express sells buses" The Age 4 September 2004
  9. ^ "New driving force behind Melbourne's buses" The Age 6 September 2004
  10. ^ Ventura acquires National Bus Company Victoria Australasian Bus & Coach
  11. ^ Grenda Announcement 18/11/2011 Archived 2 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine Grenda Corporation 18 November 2011
  12. ^ buys Grenda Transit - Volgren to send separately Australasian Bus & Coach 21 November 2011
  13. ^ The man with the golden handshake The Australian 10 March 2012
  14. ^ "Family Business: Ventura Bus Lines" Business Spectator 25 October 2012
  15. ^ Carey, Adam (26 April 2013). "Anger as French company lands bus contract". The Age. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  16. ^ "Ventura Bus Lines" Australian Bus Panorama issue 8/4 December 1992 page 50
  17. ^ Ventura Group Australian Bus Fleet Lists

External links[edit]

Media related to Ventura Bus Lines at Wikimedia Commons