Four Denning double-deck coaches are an impressive addition to the Thompson Bus Services fleet north of Brisbane.
Double-deckers are not new to Thompson Bus Services, or Thompsons of Strathpine as it’s also known.
The company operates 45 vehicles on school runs, urban services and charter work from its base at Joyner in the fast growing Pine Rivers Shire north of Brisbane.
The new Denning double-deckers, powered by 8.9-litre Cummins ISLe5 engines rated at 340 hp, follow a strong tradition of double-deck vehicles in the Thompsons fleet.
“We started operating our first double-decker in 1981…it was an ex-Sydney government Leyland Atlantean, a good old chariot. We went on to buy another six of those,” says Shane Thompson, general manager of Thompsons.
“We then bought five Volgren double-deckers and they have been replaced this year by the Dennings.”
He says that one of the key benefits of double-deckers is their increased capacity. “For safety reasons parents don’t want their kids standing in a bus while travelling,” he acknowledges.
He says the new 80-seat Denning double-deckers are a “big hit” in school charter work, particularly with the younger school groups.
“There might only be 50 kids on the trip but the schools want the double-decker, and are prepared to pay for it, just because of the novelty value,” he says.
Denning dominates in the Thompson fleet with 28 vehicles.
“Every one of our new vehicles since 2005 has been a Denning, and there are specific reasons for this,” says Shane Thompson.
“Our preference is for Australian designed and built vehicles, Denning’s customer support is second to none, and we’ve found the reliability of the Denning product to be very good.”
A number of the Dennings are powered by engines other than Cummins.
“Our first Cummins engine came into the fleet in 2009, but I wish we’d specified Cummins in the Dennings from the start,” he says.
“We’re really happy with the Cummins product and also the Cummins support.
“The ISLe5 engine is giving us very good fuel economy and it also couples nicely to the Allison automatic transmission. It is noticeably smoother than the other engines in our Dennings.”
He points out the fuel economy of the ISLe5 Cummins is a “big improvement” over the pre-urea Cummins ISL engines Thompsons is operating.
“We’re averaging 2.7 to 2.9 kilometres-per-litre with the ISLe5 in our double-deckers which is significantly better than the ISL in our single-deck vehicles doing similar work,” Shane Thompson reveals.
The Euro 5 ISLe5 uses selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, meaning the exhaust is dosed with a urea solution for emissions reduction.
The SCR system is a fully integrated Cummins design and is centrally controlled and monitored from the engine’s ECM.
For Thompsons, double-deckers are obviously an important element in operating a bus company for school students and the community and operating safely and with every care and skill that is accrued from over 30 years in the business.