Ritchies Transport Invest $21 Million Dollars

December 1, 2009

Ritchies Transport invests $21 million in new school bus fleet

Ritchies Transport Holdings is to buy 120 new buses from DesignLine over the next four years to bolster its nationwide school bus fleet.

The $21 million investment will be the single biggest by a New Zealand company in the school bus market and will replace Ritchies’ existing school bus fleet.

Andrew Ritchie, a director of Ritchies, New Zealand’s largest operator with a fleet of over 900 buses, said it was investing in New Zealand-made buses because of their quality and safety features.

“We wanted to invest in a New Zealand company, after all, it is New Zealanders who we are carrying around the country. We could have looked at second hand Japanese buses, but their emission levels are too high, and we could have gone for a cheaper Chinese version, but they are just not the quality of DesignLine’s buses,” he said.

The buses will be a mix of 40 and 48-seaters and will have the latest in emission controls. The first is expected to roll out of DesignLine’s new Rolleston factory in March.

“Another reason we signed with DesignLine is because they have the capacity to handle such a big order, and if we need to accelerate the programme at any stage, then they are able to do this,” he said.

Andrew Green, managing director of DesignLine, said that this type of order vindicates the company’s decision to invest in a totally new production facility at Rolleston, near Christchurch.

“Last year DesignLine produced 200 new buses. This year it expects to complete 250, but with the investment in new jigs, a state-of-the-art paint booth and other associated equipment we will have the capacity to produce 500 buses a year.

“We have been absent from the school bus market in the last few years, but with our new facility able to produce a very cost-efficient, lightweight aluminium extrusion body we are now a serious player in this market.

“There are many Japanese imports on school bus routes throughout New Zealand that are due to be replaced and we believe that the confidence shown by New Zealand’s biggest bus operator in our vehicles will be reflected in what other operators do when it comes to ordering replacements,” he said.

Further information: Andrew Green, Managing Director, DesignLine, ph 029-285-7231; Andrew Ritchie, Ritchies Transport Holdings, ph 027-548-8365