New bus service: 'We want to be the local fellas'

‘‘You've got to start somewhere.’’

An enthusiastic Harry Albert was talking about starting his new bus company.

The 57-year-old former miner has established Otago Coach Services, aimed at competing with large, internationally owned bus companies.

Mr Albert, who is a geologist by trade, started GeoTourism NZ in 2019, specialising in tours of Otago’s geo-heritage.

It went into hibernation due to Covid-19 and, now New Zealand’s borders have reopened, it will start again.

Starting Otago Coach Services was about ‘‘looking to the future’’ and diversifying for a post-Covid operating environment, he said.

Mr Albert spent 25 years in the mining industry which included seven years working for BHP’s iron ore division in Western Australia.

Most recently, he worked as a digger operator at Kai Point Coal in Kaitangata before moving to Ranfurly, where he lives now, to start his tourism business.

Harry Albert is starting a bus company. PHOTO: Gregor Richardson
Harry Albert is starting a bus company. PHOTO: Gregor Richardson
There had been ‘‘a lot of upheaval’’ in the local transport industry in the past 12 months, particularly after the closure of Otago Road Services, Mr Albert said.

That company, which operated in Dunedin for 74 years, lost its contracts with the Ministry of Education to Christchurch company Go Bus.

Mr Albert hoped to fill the gap Otago Road Services left and ‘‘go up against the corporate and international suppliers’’.

‘‘We feel there is a need in the community for us . . . we want to be the local fellas.’’

The company was working with the University of Otago’s geology department taking students on field trips and wanted to expand its client base to schools and sporting clubs. It would also provide GeoTourism NZ’s tours.

The company started with three buses and had another two it could call on if there was demand.

Mr Albert acknowledged inflationary pressures and labour shortages made it a tough time to start a business. The lack of available drivers was also always going to be a concern, especially for a new business, he said.

Mr Albert believed if drivers were paid what they deserved, instead of the bare minimum, they would be retained.

Otago Coach Services had only two staff at present — Mr Albert and driver Kim Hayward — and would be looking for more soon.



Sadly, that won't last.