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Date: 19.10.2022
When Marshall’s Bus & Coach Service took a leap of faith in regional New South Wales, it had no idea what it was getting itself into. Now the regional operator is continuing to expand.
In 1996, Marshall’s Bus & Coach Service’s fleet comprised only three run-down buses and a recently purchased Mercedes-Benz 1418. Then, Peter Marshall purchased a rival operator near NSW’s Tuross Head. It proved to be a gamechanger for the family business.
Marshall first started working for the family business in 1976 when he operated the telephone exchange at the age of 13. Based in the tiny NSW town of Gubbata, the business began when parents Ken and Helen bought the town’s two buses as part of a local bulk fuel company and post office/ telephone exchange purchase.
At age 17, Marshall left school and immediately took to bus driving. In 1994 his parents came home from a beach holiday at Ulladulla and decided to retire to the coast, leaving Marshall to continue the business. At this point he was married with two young daughters. Marshall took his family to the coast as well. With bus operating now in the veins, Marshall bought a beachside-based bus company and soon took the family business to Tuross Head.
Marshall stayed at Gubbata to run the business for five years until his older brother Wayne returned from the Northern Territory. Before long Marshall was at Tuross Head and buying his first Mercedes-Benz bus.
Up until that point, the business had only three buses – a couple of old Bedfords and an equally old MAN. Marshall decided to add a fourth run to the business, meaning the family purchased its first new bus in the form of a 1418.
“I have to say that the 1418 was absolutely bulletproof,” says Marshall.
“In 2004, we then bought our first 0 500 RF, which we still have. That bus convinced us how good the Mercedes-Benz product was, and is.
“We followed it up with an 0 400 for coachwork. Suddenly, when you have a couple of nice buses like we did with those Mercedes-Benz vehicles, everyone asks if we can take them to Sydney or Canberra in it.”
Before long, Marshall’s Bus & Coach Services escalated operations, buying the 21-bus strong Moruya Bus Service to add to Marshall’s four-vehicle fleet.
“I won’t tell you what we paid, but it was an absolute bargain,” Marshall says.
With the purchase came a depot on one side of the road and an old sawmill site on 10 acres opposite. In the old sawmill shed were four brand new 1418s and 1621s.
“The previous owner, Doug McKay, had purchased these buses to reduce the age of his fleet to the government-
required 12-year average,” Marshall says.
“I asked him why he didn’t use them, and he said at $180,000 each they’re too good to put schoolkids in when he could buy a $3,000 Bedford and do the same job. I put them all on the road that afternoon.”
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After taking over Moruya Bus and transitioning it into Marshall’s Bus & Coach, Marshall’s brother Wayne and his wife Julie sold the original Gubbata business in 2007 to reunite at Tuross Head. By then, the fleet had grown to 30 buses.
When Marshall’s Bus & Coach Service needed 12 new buses to adhere to the new seatbelt mandate, Marshall turned to Mercedes-Benz. Due to past experience with the brand, Marshall met with Mercedes-Benz’s then sales manager Mick Neskes on its stand at the Sydney Bus Show. The meeting resulted in Marshall buying eight 0 500 RFs and four XBCs.
Although Neskes has since moved on from Mercedes-Benz, Marshall says his exemplary service is continued by his successors in Iain Dorward and Andrew McClelland at Huntingwood in Sydney.
“The 0 500 RF is still the best thing I’ve ever driven, so to have something of that calibre – that highly-engineered chassis under our school buses – is fantastic,” Marshall says.
“Over engineering is better than under, any day of the week.”
The 12 Mercedes-Benz buses were all delivered by 2017. Marshall’s has since added another four 0 500 RFs to its fleet. When the last of this order recently arrived at Tuross Head, Marshall’s 30-vehicle fleet included 16 Mercedes-Benz buses.
“We won’t be stopping there,” Marshall says.
“With its turning circle, ride, safety features, robustness and power, the Mercedes-Benz 0 500 RF has everything we need to run a successful business.
“There’s also economies of scale in servicing, parts inventory and more.”
Unfortunately, Marshall’s father, Ken, passed away before he got to witness the company’s continued success. Marshall says he believes his father would be satisfied with the business’s growth and the part the Mercedes-Benz buses have played in it.
Marshall now runs Marshall’s Bus & Coach Service alongside daughter, Melissa, and her husband, Josh Seidel, who became the third generation involved with the operator. Marshall says both he and Wayne are happy to know that the company will remain in safe family hands in future.
Although Mercedes-Benz buses have played a major role in Marshall’s career at the helm of the family business, he still has one wish to ask for regarding the Mercedes-Benz product.
“I wish I could buy the whole bus fully assembled from Mercedes-Benz,” Marshall says.
“I’m not knocking the local body builders, but to have the whole lot come out of the factory would be a dream for me.
“Unfortunately, the Euro product is 50mm too wide for our archaic laws. Maybe one day we’ll get it.”

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