Clark’s Logan City Bus Service

The story begins during the early 1970s when Reg and Yvonne Clark had their eldest daughter attending their local primary school, Loganholme State School, 30 kilometres to the south of Brisbane. At the time Reg worked for Brett’s Hardware Store at Mt Gravatt and Yvonne was a full-time mother while also serving as Treasurer of the school’s Parents and Citizens’ Association. Between 1973 and 1975 the association found itself unable to solve a long plaguing problem: how to provide their students safe travel to and from school every day. The association approached a number of nearby operators to form a new service from Bryants Road to the school, to save parents and students walking across the highway and catching a passenger service operated by Greyhound Coaches.

Letters were sent to Bayside Bus Service, Greenline Transit, Greyhound Coaches, Mt Gravatt Bus Service, Radke’s Bus Service, Skennars Coaches and Sunnybank Bus Service, but to no avail. While their request was in no way unreasonable the problem was none of these operators were willing to take it on. That is because most licensed operators were incurring financial losses to such an extent that the Queensland Parliament was forced to intervene by passing new legislation to subsidise urban passenger services for the very first time.

With the problem still at hand the association wrote to the State Government during the start of 1975, seeking assistance in the matter. They advised that funding of $2,000 per year was available once the service was established. With Reg looking for a new venture to take on, he and Yvonne sat down to work through the costs involved with taking on the venture themselves. They soon realised that $2,000 would not even cover running costs let alone generate any form of profit. Based on advice received from Mt Gravatt Bus Service proprietor Alan Howatson and Bob Brooks of Greenline Transit, the Clarks then applied for a permit which would allow them to collect cash fares from students not eligible for free transport.

A school bus for the students at Loganholme

The Department of Transport jumped at the Clark’s proposal given no operators in South East Queensland were willing to take on any new services at the time. After their application was formally approved, the Clarks sourced a former Army Bedford SB3 bus from Cousins at Rocklea and officially commenced operations on Monday, 22 March 1976. On that day Reg set out in their newly acquired 49-passenger bus on the set route from Bryants Road at Loganholme, down to Eagleby, before proceeding onto Loganholme State School and Beenleigh State High School. To ensure the service was viable Reg and Yvonne planned to gross $105 from cash fares in their first week. They were satisfied they brought home $120 in the first week from carrying between 25 and 30 students each way. Within a month the passenger numbers had grown to necessitate another vehicle. The Clarks found another former Army bus for sale at Cousins, this time an Austin 2.45F which was affectionately nicknamed the ‘Butterbox’.

One of the Clark’s first buses was 382-NCD a 1966 Commonwealth Engineering bodied Bedford SB3. Photo: Geoff Foster
Another early bus in the fleet was PSX-280 a 1971 Superior bodied Bedford VAM 70 purchased second hand. Photo: Hayden Ramsdale

In May 1976, the school run was split into two with Yvonne driving the Austin at Eagleby while Reg looked after Loganholme in the Bedford. By August that year, the service had been split a third time and now catered for Daisy Hill which necessitated another vehicle and saw the employment of the Clark’s first employee, Mrs. Bev Patrick. But the growth continued as the fleet grew to five by Christmas 1976 to cater for the opening of Springwood State High School, plus a new service to St Peter’s Catholic Primary School in Rochedale South. Both these services began on Monday, 24 January 1977 and were operated by another former Army SB Bedford and a Ford. In May 1977, Reg and Yvonne were notified by the Department of Transport that their services authorised under a permit, which covered the South East Freeway from Springwood to the Logan River, would be put out to public tender. Despite competitive tenders from two other operators, Reg and Yvonne were notified of their successful bid for licence 201 (Upper Mt Gravatt-Loganholme) on 17 October 1977.

Along with retaining their school services the new licence also authorised the Clarks to operate a shopper’s service from Loganholme and Springwood to Garden City Shopping Centre at Upper Mt Gravatt, which was relinquished by Mt Gravatt Bus Service on 5 December 1977. During the first half of 1978, Reg and Yvonne were informed that Mt Gravatt Bus Service proprietor Alan Howatson wished to sell his business altogether, which conducted school and route services from Garden City to Eight Mile Plains and Rochedale. A takeover was explored with a proposal formulated to the Commissioner of Transport only for it to be rejected in favour of Norm Dunn of Dunn’s Charter Buses, who had previously tendered against the Clarks a year earlier.

In 1978, another second hand vehicle was acquired from New South Wales in the form of this 1974 MBS bodied Bedford VAM 70, originally new to Patterson of Murringo. Photo: Hayden Ramsdale
Another Superior bodied vehicle joined the fleet during 1979 in the form of this 1973 Bedford VAM 3, acquired from Cavanagh’s of Kempsey in New South Wales. Photo: Vic Hayes

First new bus purchased

Nevertheless the Clarks continued developing their own business which received the positive news from the Commissioner of Transport of a 7 year licence extension effective from 1 May 1979. This certainty enabled the purchase of their first new vehicle, a 1978 Domino Hedges bodied Hino BX340E for school and charter work. A further three new buses from Domino, this time on British Bedford chassis, were added between 1979 and 1980. With a fleet now in excess of ten vehicles Reg and Yvonne purchased a block of land at 68 Chetwynd Street in Loganholme in September 1978, which saw the operations base shift from their house at Drews Road. In January 1980, a new high school opened in Shailer Park which was followed by a new primary school two years later. Both of these new institutions had a severe impact upon fare box revenue which resulted in a downsizing of the business. Four staff lost their jobs and all remaining full time positions were reclassified as casual. It was then clear in Reg and Yvonne’s mind that it was cheaper to keep their buses in the depot during the day, rather than expend wages and fuel on charter work.

In April 1978, Reg and Yvonne Clark purchased their first new bus in the form of this Domino Hedges bodied Hino BX340E which was signed ‘Clark’s Charter’. Photo: Ian Lynas
Another new vehicle joined the Clark’s fleet in 1979 with the delivery of this 57-passenger Domino bodied Bedford BLP2, registered 117-NSD. Photo: Vic Hayes
In 1980, another Domino bodied Bedford BLP2 was purchased with Domino’s latest body offering: the ‘Metroliner’. It is pictured here at Garden City on a service to Loganholme during 1984. Photo: Ian Lynas

Expanded passenger services

To offset some of the loss the passenger service to Garden City was officially extended to Eagleby and Beenleigh during 1982. The consolidation of school services continued during the early 1980s as the Beenleigh to Daisy Hill run of Greyhound Coaches was purchased, along with a Denning bodied Commer. In October 1985, the depot was expanded after adjoining property at 66 Chetwynd Street was purchased. Concurrently, seven limited stop bus services were introduced daily to Kuraby station from the Loganholme, Shailer Park and Springwood areas from 7 October 1985. Within the first ten weeks of operation, daily patronage increased by almost 100% and a further five daily services were added in February 1986. Reg and Yvonne’s passenger licence was renewed for a further 7 year term by the Commissioner of Transport from 1 May 1986. A new shuttle service commenced operation between Holmview Railway Station and Beenleigh Centre on 9 March 1987 under contract to Queensland Rail. The service carried 1,090 passengers on its first day of operation and continued until the Beenleigh Railway Station was relocated.

One of two Leyland Leopards purchased second hand from the Brisbane City Council during 1983 was (8) 363-OSU a 1965 Charles Hope bodied PSU3/2R model. Photo: Ian Lynas
In 1987, Clark’s turned to local bus builder, Motor Coach Australia at Kingston, for new vehicles. The first body supplied to them was this 53-passenger coach that later became 34-CBS. Photo: Ian Lynas

Purchase of Greenline Transit

By far the biggest expansion of the Clark’s business occurred on Saturday, 19 December 1987, with the purchase of Bob and Mary Brooks’ Greenline Transit with licence 180 (Upper Mt Gravatt-Underwood-Woodridge-Logan Central-Kingston-Marsden) at a cost of $1.3 million. The purchase price was so significant that the Clark’s had to obtain finance through two banking institutions. Although initially hesitant of Greenline’s large charter base, Reg and Yvonne proceeded with the purchase after realising that any new operator would be largely competing against them in passenger services to the soon-to-be-opened Logan Hyperdome. Over the Christmas holiday period, the Greenline fleet went through a considerable overhaul with all 21 vehicles given oil changes and fitted with completely new sets of tyres.

While the fleet doubled overnight from 18 to 39, the Clarks more importantly broadened their service area to encompass the developing suburbs of Marsden, Woodridge, Logan Central and Kingston. In these areas Greenline operated passenger services to Garden City whilst also maintaining a monopoly on school runs. The Greenline fleet consisted of 15 AEC Swift 691 route buses from South Australia, two Motorcoaches, a Leyland, plus three coaches on Bedford, Domino and Hino chassis. Along with the vehicles and services from Greenline came their depot facility at Jellicoe Street (later renamed Jutland Street) in Kingston, which replaced Chetwynd Street as the base of operations.

The majority of the fleet inherited from Greenline Transit during December 1987 consisted of these ex South Australian AEC Swift route buses. Photo: Ian Lynas
530-PLC was one of 15 AEC Swift 691 route buses which was acquired from the State Transport Authority in Adelaide. Photo: Ian Lynas
One of the coaches in the Greenline fleet was 449-NEL a 1978 Bedford YRT3 with Domino Hedges 49-passenger body. Photo: Ian Lynas
Another one of the coaches in the Greenline fleet was this 1983 GBW bodied MCA which later became 35-CBS. Photo: Ian Lynas
The Greenline fleet was soon repainted into Clark’s red and white colour scheme with 1972 Denning (SA) bodied AEC Swift 691 pictured at Garden City Shopping Centre. Photo: Ian Lynas

In May 1988, a new co-ordinated bus service was introduced between Beenleigh Railway Station, Eagleby and Mount Warren Park, to facilitate travel to Brisbane. This was the result of planning and cooperation with the Department of Transport and Albert Shire Council. In August 1988, Reg and Yvonne purchased Ted Smith’s special education school service at Beenleigh with no vehicles.

New City Flyer services

During Expo 88, the Department of Transport engaged the Clarks to operate scheduled passenger services into South Bank after train services struggled to cope with demand in the first two months. High frequency services then operated from the entire Logan area into South Bank which appealed not only to Expo visitors but also to workers who would walk across the bridge at South Bank into the City. With the end of Expo insight the Clarks offered to trial a new three-month ‘City Flyer’ service from Beenleigh into Elizabeth Street in the city from Monday, 31 October 1988. The trial proved to be an enormous success and by December 1988, the existing Saturday services between Beenleigh and Garden City had all been extended into the City.

In 1989, the new city service expanded rapidly which necessitated the purchase of 3 to 4 new vehicles year on year for the next 6 years. In 1990, a city service was introduced to the people of Marsden, Kingston and Logan Central for the first time. The same year also saw the introduction of the first ‘cross-town’ service from the Logan Hyperdome to Marsden. With impending contract amalgamation and reform the Clarks led the way by introducing electronic ticketing and smart card technology during 1991.

One of two Hino RG197Ks with bodies by Motor Coach Australia were delivered new in April 1990. It later became 19-CBS. Photo: Ian Lynas
Pictured at the original Garden CIty Interchange on a ‘City Flyer’ service was REG-26 (later 30-CBS), a 1991 Motorcoach bodied Hino RG197K. Photo: Ian Lynas
Signage promoting Clark’s City Flyer services on the rear of (22) 228-BTQ (later 22-CBS) a 1992 MCA bodied Hino RG197K. Photo: Motor Coach Australia
By 1992, the Greenline name and colours had well and truly disappeared as the vehicles were rebranded and repainted. Photo: Jason Healey
The only Hino FD164L in the fleet was this 1992 MCA build seating 47 passengers. Photo: Motor Coach Australia

The early 1990s also saw a couple of one-bus operators purchased as the Clarks further consolidated school bus services in the Logan region. During 1994, Reg and Yvonne were recognised for their hard work and contribution to the community through the Logan Chamber of Commerce ‘Business Achiever of the Year’ award. The same year saw the purchase of the adjoining block of land in Jutland Street (formerly Jellicoe Street) to cater for their burgeoning fleet and future growth.

New commercial service contract

Following the passing of the Transport Operations (Passenger Transport) Act 1994 (Qld) in November 1994, passenger licences were soon to be replaced by performance-based commercial service contracts with all passenger services in the Logan region put out to tender for existing operators only. Reg and Yvonne Clark successfully bid for this area and entered into their first generation commercial service contract with the Department of Transport during September 1995. This provided the Clark’s with the exclusive right to operate passenger services within the Logan contract area. It was also a condition of this contract that Reg and Yvonne pay compensation to existing operators within the Logan contract area that were not awarded a service contract. These comprised Norm Dunn’s Rochedale Bus Service (who had acquired routes in Rochedale and Eight Mile Plains from Mt Gravatt Bus Service during September 1978), and Albert Wharton’s Logan Coaches who operated school runs into Edens Landing, Bethania and Holmview. No buses were acquired from either operator but a number of drivers transferred over to Clarks.

With an urgent need for buses quickly Reg and Yvonne looked to South Australia and found a range of AEC Swift 760 route buses that had finished revenue service for the government. Ten were purchased and added to the Clark’s fleet between 1995 and 1997, along with a further two from Hagan’s Bus Service in Toowoomba. By this stage the fleet encompassed 65 vehicles, over half of which had been bought new. By 1997, a total of 22 new Hinos had been purchased with half of these manufactured locally at Kingston by body builder Motor Coach Australia (MCA). That year also witnessed the launch of a new, fully integrated network of routes and timetables from 2 June 1997. After gradually downsizing their charter operations over the years, Reg and Yvonne made the decision to cease all charter work to coincide with the network launch, allowing them to solely focus on scheduled services. While this drastically affected the family company’s bottom line in the short term, it ultimately proved to be the right decision in years to come. The charter fleet was then purged with three relatively new MCA coaches finding new homes.

In February 1994, Clark’s took delivery of this new Hino RG197K with Motor Coach Australia 51 passenger body. Photo: Ian Lynas
Hinos were heavily favoured for bus purchases in the 1990s by the Clarks, with 39 and 40 being two Hino BC144Ks with bodywork by PMCA and Superior respectively. Photo: Paul Garred
Line up of the 12 second hand AEC Swift 760s with PMCSA bodies purchased between 1995 and 1997. Photo: Paul Garred
(15) 420-DVY was the first of four Austral Pacific bodied Hino RG230 school buses purchased new during 1997. Photo: Paul Garred

First low floor buses

The year 1998 witnessed the introduction of Clark’s first ultra-low floor, fully wheelchair accessible vehicle in the form of a Bustech bodied Mercedes Benz O405NH. Prior to delivery the vehicle was displayed at the 1998 Sydney Bus Show where it formed part of Bustech’s official entry into the Australian vehicle manufacturing industry. A strong relationship was then formed with the Gold Coast manufacturer who went on to supply another 121 low floor buses between 1998 and 2021. Leading up to the millennium, another six Bustech low floors were then integrated into the fleet alongside eleven second hand Volvo B59s from Surfside Bus Lines, as the Greenline Swifts were progressively replaced.

The year 1998 saw the first fully low floor, wheelchair accessible buses enter the Clarks fleet, produced by Bustech on Mercedes Benz O405NH chassis. Photo: Ian Lynas
(58) 827-CYK was one of 11 former South Australian Government PMCSA bodied Volvo B59s purchased from Surfside Bus Lines. Photo: Ian Lynas

During March 2001, Reg and Yvonne celebrated 25 years of service with family and staff, which provided them with an opportunity to reflect on the journey they had found themselves on. A month later witnessed the opening of the South East Busway to Eight Mile Plains on 30 April 2001, which now enabled a predominately congestion-free run into the city. By removing the bulk of the journey along the South East Freeway, the new busway drastically reduced waiting times and opened a gateway of opportunities for new route planning, timetabling and scheduling. By the year 2002, the fleet had grown to encompass seventeen wheelchair accessible vehicles, all of which were on Mercedes Benz chassis. The following year saw opening of the Springwood Bus Station on 1 September 2003, which although does not currently connect with the busway at Eight Mile Plains, now provided a central interchange hub for the bulk of the Logan City bus services. During 2003, the Clarks purchased their first Volvo B12BLE which effectively ended their relationship with Mercedes Benz.

In 2003, Clark’s switched from Mercedes Benz to Volvo and have since received a further 120 Volvo low floor buses. Photo: Paul Garred
(84) 756-GYW was one of 5 Leyland Super Vikings with Custom Coaches bodies purchased from Surfside Bus Lines at the Gold Coast during 2003. Photo: Paul Garred

The TransLink era

In July 2004, the Queensland Government completely revolutionised urban passenger transport in South East Queensland with the launch of ‘TransLink’. This involved a new system of integrated ticketing and the allocation of standardised route numbers. With the growth of TransLink came further increases to operating frequencies and capital funding for new low floor buses. This resulted in the delivery of 28 new Bustech bodied Volvo B12BLEs during 2005 – the largest increase of the fleet in any one year to date. Another significant milestone took place during March 2006 when Reg and Yvonne celebrated 30 years of operation. The celebrations coincided with the opening a new office and workshop facility at their Jutland Street premises at a cost of $1.8 million. At this date the fleet consisted of 95 vehicles along with a staff of 145 employees. During 2007, the Clark’s 100th vehicle entered service and was given commemorative signage to celebrate the milestone.

(61) is the first of 28 new Bustech VST bodied Volvo B12BLEs delivered during 2005. Photo: Paul Garred

In April 2008, the first ever articulated buses were purchased with the delivery of two Custom Coaches bodied Volvo B12BLEAs with dual door entry. This was another initiative driven by the Clarks in a bid to relieve congestion on the highly populated busway services from Loganholme into the city. The experimentation with articulated buses continued during January 2010 when TransLink introduced the first of two new, three-door articulated buses in the Logan City fleet in a bid to reduce passenger loading times on the South East Busway. With a carrying capacity of 112 people, the first bus was introduced to service on Monday, 18 January 2010. Both vehicles have been subsequently purchased by Clarks and integrated into their fleet. On 20 December 2010, the route 555 service between Loganholme and Brisbane City was upgraded to high frequency.

In June 2007, Clark’s welcomed their 100th bus entered service with the delivery of this Bustech VST bodied Volvo B12BLE. Photo: Matt Browne
In April 2008, the first ever articulated buses were purchased with the delivery of two Custom Coaches bodied Volvo B12BLEAs with dual door entry. Photo: Matt Browne
The first of two new ‘superbuses’ that was originally operated by Clark’s on trial from TransLink from 18 January 2010. Both buses were subsequently purchased in 2011. Photo: Matt Browne
The majority of Clark’s fleet is comprised of Volvo B12BLE chassis with Bustech VST bodies. Photo: Nick Wilson

During July 2011, the Logan City fleet welcomed its 100th Volvo B12BLE in just eight years, the most of any private bus company in Australia at the time. During this time the Clarks have averaged more than ten new Volvo buses annually and continue to choose Volvo for all future vehicle purchases. On 19 June 2017, the declared Logan service contract area was expanded to include Holmview in order to cater for new housing developments. In July 2017, Clark’s took delivery of a 7 metre, 18 passenger Hino Poncho low floor bus for new route 567 (Holmview-Beenleigh). This was the first of its kind to enter service in Australia. In December 2017, the last high floor vehicles were retired from service making Clark’s fleet fully low floor and wheelchair accessible. Notably, this was 5 years before the legislative requirement of full compliance with the transport standards under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth). The Clark’s signed their fourth generation TransLink contract during July 2018.

(27) 27-CBS is a 18-passenger Hino Poncho low floor which is the first of its kind to enter service in Australia. Photo: Matt Browne
Delivered new in July 2020 is (14) 14-CBS a Volvo B8RLE with Bustech VST bodywork seating 47 passengers. Photo: Matt Browne
To celebrate their 45th year of operations, the Clark family held a special dinner at their Loganlea depot on 27 March 2021. Pictured are Reg, Yvonne, Karen, Kaylee and Kristine Clark. Photo: Clark’s Logan City Bus Service

As of January 2022, Clark’s Logan City Bus Service operates 127 buses under contract to the Department of Transport and Main Roads and remains a family operated business with approximately 200 employees.