Young’s Bus Service

The story begins back in 1942 when a 16-year old Stan Young began working for Monty Davies as a driver on his Port Curtis-Gracemere passenger service. Remarkably, this was not the first time Stan had operated a heavy vehicle after serving time driving goods trucks between Rockhampton and his home town of Bouldercombe from the age of 14. For six years, Stan worked under bus proprietor Montague Crompton Davies whom he forged a close bond with and learned many lessons from. When Rockhampton City Council compulsorily acquired the majority of the city’s private bus services on 30 April 1948, Stan transitioned over to the Council as a driver for about a year and a half before leaving due to unionisation. It was not long after this that Stan learned that the Rockhampton-Keppel Sands passenger and goods service was for sale. This service was still privately held and operated seven days a week to the coastal town of Keppel Sands, 40 kilometres from Rockhampton.

Purchase of Keppel Sands run

Seizing the opportunity to operate buses in his own right, Stan followed through with the purchase of licence 1511 (Rockhampton-Keppel Sands) on 3 November 1949. The licence was formally transferred from Marshall Hugh Davies on 17 January 1950 with one 15-passenger International bus for £880. At just 23 years of age Stan Young became one of the youngest bus operators in the Queensland. The bus was stored at his parent’s property in Murray Street, Rockhampton in between operating times. Concurrently, Stan was gifted a 1944 Watt Bros bodied International K5 from Monty Davies who retained his Rockhampton-Mount Morgan licence and had in-turn bought the bus from the Brisbane City Council for £900 on 5 January 1950. This vehicle was swapped for the 15-passenger model Stan had inherited with the Keppel Sands service. The addition of this vehicle greatly improved the quality of service provided to the public.

This Watt Bros bodied International K5 was built new to Harry Pocock, owner of the Norman Park Bus Service in Brisbane on 24 December 1944. The bus passed to the Brisbane City Council with the Norman Park run on 29 February 1948, and was then sold to Monty Davies on 5 January 1950 who gifted it to Stan Young for his recently acquired Keppel Sands run. It is pictured here painted in Ansett’s silver and blue colours. Photo: Young Family Collection

Expansion to Gracemere and Yeppoon

On 28 April 1951, Rockhampton City Council ceased to operate the Rockhampton-Gracemere passenger service due to low patronage and high operating costs. Stan seized upon this opportunity to expand his operation and was issued a permit from the Department of Transport in July 1951 to operate between Rockhampton-Gracemere one day a week every Wednesday. Monthly permits authorised the operation of this service until April 1952 when the Department of Transport issued Stan with passenger licence 187 (Rockhampton-Gracemere). On 27 August 1952, Rockhampton City Council abandoned another service citing low patronage, this time between Rockhampton and Yeppoon. This was another service the Council had compulsorily acquired from private ownership four years earlier. A second hand Syd Wood bodied Reo Pusher was acquired from Rockhampton City Council and became the Young’s first forward control bus.

This 1939 Syd Wood bodied Reo Pusher seating 38 passengers was acquired from Rockhampton City Council, who had in turn purchased it from Byrne Motor Company with the Depot Hill and General Hospital routes on 29 April 1948. Photo: Young Family Collection

In December 1952, Stan added two Bedford buses to his fleet. The first, was a coach in the form of a 20-passenger Bedford OB from Ansett Airways. This vehicle was used for tours and to transport passengers to and from Rockhampton Airport, in partnership with Ansett. The second, was a 20-passenger Bedford that had operated in Brisbane. This vehicle was driven up by Eric Limpus, the uncle of Stan’s girlfriend, Joan. The Limpus family were no strangers to buses either with Henry Limpus pioneering the Keppel Sands service with gratuity money from the First World War during the 1920s. Stan adopted Ansett’s silver and blue livery for his buses for a number of years before changed to red and white.

This Ansair bodied Bedford OB seating 24-passengers was acquired from Ansett Airways during December 1952. Photo: Young Family Collection
Another second hand Bedford OB was purchased in December 1952, registered Q543-467 and fitted with a Watt Bros body seating 20-passengers. It was acquired from the Ipswich-Amberley Bus Service, west of Brisbane. Photo: Young Family Collection

In August 1953, the Department of Transport authorised Stan to operate on Wednesdays and Sundays a round trip from Rockhampton via Yeppoon, Emu Park and Keppel Sands at a fee of one half-penny per adult passenger per mile. This service was later changed to operate on Thursday’s only to reduce competition to the train which ran every Sunday. In 1954, the fleet expanded with the purchase of three second hand Ford buses from Mackay to operate the licensed services to Gracemere and Yeppoon. During 1956, Stan married his long term girlfriend Joan Limpus who became further involved in the business. In January 1957, Stan and Joan purchased a property at 276 George Street, Rockhampton to establish a bus depot.

Advertisement for the Yeppoon and Emu Park service in the Morning Bulletin edition on 22 October 1953. Courtesy: National Library of Australia
The first of three normal control Ford V8 buses purchased from a Mackay operator for the Gracemere and Yeppoon services. This vehicle seated 33-passengers and was registered Q635-151. Photo: Young Family Collection

Purchase of Mount Morgan service

In September 1957, Stan, in partnership with Eric Limpus, purchased passenger licence 521 (Rockhampton-Mount Morgan) from William Herbert (Berty) Hoffman and Kathleen Ita Hoffman for £5,000. The Mount Morgan run came with two buses: a 1948 Dodge with a body constructed out of aluminium sheeting by Monty Davies, and a 1944 Chevrolet which had a broken chassis and was not used. Stan had occasionally driven for Berty Hoffman when he was ill or absent so the purchase of this service was a natural fit.

In January 1959, the Rockhampton-Keppel Sands portion of passenger service licence number 1511 was surrendered after goods carrying customers had amassed debts of £9,000. The business name ‘Youngs Bus Service’ was officially registered on 22 August 1960, and Joan joined Stan as a partner in this business on 26 January 1962. With an increasing fleet of buses, Stan and Joan purchased the adjoining block of land at 276 George Street, Rockhampton in February 1962 to expand their depot.

The only operational bus acquired with the Rockhampton-Mount Morgan passenger service in September 1957 was this 1948 Dodge which had a Mack front axle, and a body constructed out of aluminium sheeting by Monty Davies (who pioneered the Mount Morgan run on Monday 22 May 1944). Photo: Young Family Collection

First new bus purchased

It was during 1962 that the Young’s began applying to the Department of Transport to operate to Yeppoon every weekday. In November of that year, the Youngs purchased their first new bus in the form of a PMC bodied Bedford SB3 from John A. Gilberts for £4,130. On 22 December 1962, Eric Limpus, a valued partner and adviser in the business, passed away and his share in the Mount Morgan service was acquired by Stan. It was at this point that Stan made the call to purchase new buses moving forward as he couldn’t keep up with the repairs on second hand vehicles all by himself.

In November 1962, Stan and Joan bought their first new bus in the form of this PMC bodied Bedford SB3. It is pictured outside Rockhampton Town Hall. Photo: Young Family Collection

First dedicated school bus run

During April 1964, the Youngs commenced their first dedicated school bus service after the closure of Alton Downs State School, north west of Rockhampton. A small Morris minibus was purchased to operate the run which initially catered for six kids. Another seven brand new Bedford SBs and VAMs with CCMC bodies from Gilberts were added to the fleet between 1963 and 1969, as the last of the normal control vehicles were retired. This saw the fleet grow to encompass nine vehicles by the mid-1960s, the introduction of fleet numbers, and a new trading name of ‘Young’s Comfort Coaches’ adopted.

A second new PMC bodied Bedford SB3 was added to the fleet during 1963, also pictured outside of Rockhampton Town Hall. Photo: Young Family Collection
Stan Young pictured alongside (4) PBY-077, a 1966 CCMC bodied Bedford J2 which seated 26 passengers and was traded to Gilberts on a larger vehicle in 1969. Photo: Young Family Collection

On 3 December 1969, after unsuccessfully applying for a daily bus service to Yeppoon for seven years, the Transport Department finally approved the Young’s application. The new daily passenger service commenced in January 1970 and operated between Cooee Bay (near Yeppoon) and Rockhampton, as a workaround to the legislative minefield which prohibited competition of bus services with government railways.  It was also during 1970 that the Youngs pioneered the district’s first long distance passenger service from Rockhampton to Theodore via Biloela, using a Commer 2500 mini bus. This service was eventually extended to Rolleston and Springsure before the service was surrendered.

This J Series Morris minibus was purchased to operate Young’s first dedicated school service, after Alton Downs State School closed. Photo: Young Family Collection
One of seven new CCMC bodied Bedfords was (2) PLM-882 a 1969 build on VAM 70 chassis, seating 40 passengers. Photo: Vic Hayes
(6) PPS-484 was a Custom Coaches bodied Bedford VAM 70 outshopped in July 1970. Photo: Young Family Collection

Touring and charter

From the 1970s the Youngs built up a coach fleet in order to undertake long distance charters and have since conducted coach tours to every state in Australia apart from Tasmania, where the bus was left at Ansett’s yard in Melbourne. It was also during this decade that the Department of Transport talked the Youngs into operating buses to Keppel Sands again, after it was abandoned by another operator. After British-made Bedfords had been the choice for new vehicles in the preceding decade, the Youngs trialled a variety of different chassis during the 1970s with mixed success. New arrivals onto the scene included two Fords, a Leyland Leopard, an International and four Hinos – which were predominately operated for a short period and then on-sold. The first rear engine vehicle entered the fleet during 1973 in the form of a Superior bodied Albion Viking VK57 which had 45 reclining coach seats. In September 1975, Stan and Joan purchased a property at 10 Burnett Street, Yeppoon to establish a satellite bus depot.  The first Denning coach was bought by the Youngs during 1976 and was immediately dispatched onto tours Australia-wide during the height of the coach travel market.

The Young’s first rear-engined bus was OAU-882 a 1973 Superior bodied Albion Viking VK57 seating 45 passengers. Photo: Young Family Collection
The Young’s purchased their first Denning coach in November 1976 in the form of this 45-passenger Denning Mono powered by a GM 6V71. Photo: Young Family Collection

In April 1977, the Yeppoon service was extended further along the coastline after the acquisition of licence 188 (Yeppoon-Emu Park) from Tom Milliner with a Ford Transit bus.  Towards the end of the decade the Youngs returned to purchasing Bedfords with five brand new NJM and YMT3 models being added in 1979 alone, the bulk of which had Custom Coaches bodies. The Young’s first Domino Tourmaster was added shortly after in 1981 from Fred Carah, which was only two years old. On 1 January 1981, Young’s licences were extended by the Commissioner of Transport for a further 7 year period through to 31 December 1987. In 1983, Stan and Joan welcomed their oldest son Dave into the business as an apprentice mechanic, which was followed two years later by younger brother Phil who took on an administrative management position. During April 1984, Stan and Young purchased the two lots adjoining their Rockhampton depot at 280-282 George Street.

One of five new Bedford buses bought during 1979 was (6) 622-NNC, a Custom Coaches bodied YMT3 model. Photo: Young Family Collection
(11) 116-NQP was a PMC bodied Bedford SB5 completed in July 1979. Photo: Young Family Collection

Local Yeppoon services start

During March 1985, the Young’s also commenced the first local passenger services at Yeppoon on a trial basis, with these services granted permanency in July 1987.  A ticket office was then established in the Yeppoon town centre in October 1987 with the purchase of 25 Hill Street. The fleet during this decade remained relatively stable with only a handful of new acquisitions for tour work, including a 1981 Leyland Super Viking and 1984 Motorcoach with Custom Coaches bodies, a 1986 Austral Tourmaster and two 1988 Northcoast bodied Scania K93CRs. During 1988, the Young’s expanded their presence in Yeppoon with the purchase of four school runs to Emu Park from Robert Jeacocke. This added another four vehicles to the fleet: a 1973 Superior bodied Ford R192, a 1973 Custom Coaches bodied Bedford VAM 70, a 1975 Nambucca bodied IBC, and an MBS bodied Austin. Years later as development took place the school runs to Emu Park were extended further down the coast to Zilzie.

An odd-bod in the fleet was this 1981 Custom Coaches ‘Mk 90’ bodied Leyland Super Viking, which operated for the Young’s for over 25 years. Photo: Young Family Collection
Stan and Joan’s two sons, Dave (middle) and Phil (left) joined the family business in 1983 and 1985 respectively. They are pictured here with legendary Queensland coach operator, Clarrie Skennar. Photo: Young Family Collection
This Austral Tourmaster was bought new in 1986 for Snow Mountain and Iwasaki Group tours. Photo: Young Family Collection
One of four buses purchased from Robert Jeacocke with the Yeppoon-Emu Park school runs was this 1978 Nambucca bodied I.B.C. underfloor chassis powered by a CAT 3208. Photo: Ian Lynas

Moving into the 1990s, the Youngs found that new bus purchases were now a luxury, and instead had a resort to a range of second hand government vehicles from the southern states. These included eleven Pressed Metal bodied Mercedes Benz O305s from the State Transit Authority in Sydney, as well as two Pressed Metal bodied Leyland B21s from Darwin, a MAN SL200 from ACTION in Canberra, and a Volvo B59 from National Bus Company in Melbourne. The wave of these second hand vehicles also saw a change in the Young’s company colours to be predominately white with flashes of red, orange and yellow. During early 1995, the Youngs entered into negotiations to take over the Rockhampton City Council bus services which were in dire straits. 

An agreement was in place and new timetables and maps were formulated as the deal progressed, however the transfer was denied by the Department of Transport who were seeking their own agenda following the enactment of the Transport Operations (Passenger Transport) Act 1994 (Qld) which replaced the existing licensing regime with performance-based service contracts. In a complete shakeup for the bus industry all of the urban services were put out to public tender, and Rockhampton along with Ipswich, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Townsville, went to English operator Harry Blundred’s Transit Australia Pty Ltd from May 1995. From this point onwards the Youngs have had to fight a long drawn out battle with the Department to retain their passenger services which are the mainstay of their family business.

The first of 11 former State Transit Authority Mercedes Benz O305s with Pressed Metal bodies was (19) 731 BLP. Photo: Young Family Collection
Phil and Stan Young pictured in front of one of two Alan B. Denning bodied Mercedes Benz 814D buses purchased new in 1995. Photo: Young Family Collection

New ticketing systems

Despite this setback the Youngs continued improving their passenger services by introducing Almex ticketing into two new Alan B. Denning bodied Mercedes Benz 814D mini buses during 1995. This system moved over to magnetic cards a year later.  During 1996, the Youngs took over the Bouldercombe school run from Ray Tobin with two vehicles; a 1973 Smithfield bodied Leyland Leopard and a 1976 Pressed Metal bodied Nissan PRX102D. A year later saw the Youngs purchase their first wheelchair accessible vehicle with the delivery of a Volgren bodied Dennis Dart SLF, which seated 39 passengers. Another two new Volgren low floors, this time on Mercedes Benz O405NH chassis, were deployed onto the urban services from 1999. That year also saw the Farnborough and Bangalee school runs of Jim Lindley in Yeppoon purchased along with his two vehicles: a 1978 Smithfield bodied Bedford BLP2, and a 1982 PMC bodied Hino BX341.

The first wheelchair accessible vehicle in the fleet was (29) 918 EHT, a 1997 Volgren bodied Dennis Dart SLF. Photo: Paul Garred
Pictured during a magazine photoshoot during 1999 are brothers Phil and Dave (left) with parents Joan and Stan (right). Photo: Young Family Collection
(4) 805 GMS was one of two Austral Pacific bodied Mercedes Benz OH1621 buses bought near-new from the King Bros Group in 2000. Photo: Nick Wilson

Passing of Stan Young

The Youngs were dealt a massive blow during November 2001 with the passing of Stan, who bequeathed his share of the business to sons Dave and Phil, and daughter Margaret. The management of the business was carried on by brothers Dave and Phil, with assistance from mother Joan.  During the early 2000s, the decision was made to implement a striking colour scheme of pink and white across the fleet. This was because the Youngs had painted their fleet predominately white at one stage and people had blamed the Young’s buses for accidents throughout town because other operators painted their buses the same way. After holidaying overseas in Asia, the Young’s had noticed how visible the buses there were painted all pink and decided to adopt the same colour scheme for their own operation. The change in colours to pink and white has also improved visibility of the vehicles at all times of the day. Additional second hand government buses were procured during this time including another two Pressed Metal bodied MAN SL200s from Darwin, and three Ansair bodied MAN SL200s. In July 2004, Dave and Phil Young joined Joan as a partner in the business. In 2005, the Youngs purchased their first new vehicle in six years in the form of a Bustech bodied Mercedes Benz O500LE for the urban services.

The only Mercedes Benz O500LE low floor in the fleet is (55) 128 JGI, a 2005 build by Bustech. Photo: Paul Garred
One of seven former Brisbane City Council 1983 Denning bodied MAN SL200s bought for school services during 2006 was (52) 351 ILG. Photo: Paul Garred

Urban services become ‘QConnect’

In need of short term replacement vehicles for school services, the Young’s bought seven 1983 MAN SL200s from the Brisbane City Council during 2006. In July of that year, a new Circuitlink ticketing system was implemented with a view towards smartcard technology, which commenced 18 months later in January 2008. A positive move for regional urban services in Queensland occurred on 1 July 2008 with the Queensland Government introducing ‘QConnect’ which heralded integrated ticketing and improved frequency of services. This year also saw the Youngs purchase six BCI buses of low floor and high floor configuration funded by the Queensland Government for QConnect and school services respectively.

The first of five Volgren bodied Volvo B7R school buses is (60) 093 KIE a 2007 model, seating 57 passengers. It is assigned to the (S274) Bouldercombe school run into Rockhampton schools. Photo: Paul Garred
The first of three BCI PK6127AT school buses bought during 2008 is (62) 285 KYZ. It is assigned to the (P886) Alton Downs to Rockhampton school run. Photo: Nick Wilson
The last of three Express bodied Volvo B7RLE low floors delivered between 2013 and 2014 is (78) 524 VAL. Photo: Nick Wilson

New depot built at Yeppoon

A total of 16 new buses were purchased between 2009 and 2016 comprising Bustech and Volvo low floors for urban work and Bonluck and Volvo high floors for rural school services. In June 2016, the Young’s entered into a land swap arrangement with the Livingstone Shire Council involving the sale of their depot at 10 Burnett Street, Yeppoon and the purchase of 4 Pineapple Drive, Hidden Valley in the new Gateway Business and Industry Precinct. A new state-of-the-art depot facility was built at this location and was opened in November 2017. In February 2019, Young’s signed the fourth generation contract with the Department of Transport and Main Roads for their public passenger services in Rockhampton and Yeppoon. A further tranche of 11 new urban and school buses were added to the fleet between 2019 and 2021, including the Young’s first Euro 6 vehicles.

Young’s celebrated their 65th anniversary in business by installing a commemorating livery to this new 71-passenger 2015 Bonluck JXK6146 school bus. Brothers Phil and Dave Young are pictured here in February 2015. Photo: Nick Wilson
(83) 925 WBR is the first of five Bustech XDi low floors purchased between 2015 and 2020. Photo: Matt Browne

Sale of business to CDC

On 27 October 2021, the Young’s sold their family business of seven decades to ComfortDelGro Corporation Australia (CDC) subsidiary, CDC South East Queensland Pty Ltd. At this time, the business comprised 42 buses operating 10 public passenger services and 18 school services, with depots in Rockhampton and Yeppoon.

Congratulations to the Young family for over 71 years’ service to the people of Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast. 

Phil and David Young with staff members of Young’s Bus Service and CDC Queensland. Photo: CDC Queensland