A steam tramway system provided most of the local transport requirements in Broken Hill from 1902 to 1926. From the closure of the tramway in 1926 until 1935 several bus operators provided the replacement services in an uncoordinated fashion; this lead to fighting between operators and naturally instability.
Rationalisation occurred in late 1935 when a number of bus operators (with sufficient influence) formed the Murton (Street) bus syndicate that brought about some regulation to the operation of local buses in the town.
The syndicate was incorporated as a private company in 1945 and has traded successfully over the years. It has a tradition of providing a range of bus and coach transport services to the city of Broken Hill and has enjoyed good local support over the years.
Up until 1985 the company was owned by a number of private shareholders, who all worked in the business and participated in the management of the business. The business operated along the lines of a family business for many years.
Its key activities involved operating:
- A daily express service between Broken Hill and Adelaide
- Local Town Services
- Local and long distance charter services
- School services
The company held a number of tour, charter and route licences, which allowed it to operate such services, with a degree of exclusivity and protection.
In 1984 the assets of Murtons were sold to an Adelaide based coach company, Briscoes Pty. Ltd. At the time Briscoes was developing a national express coach service and its interest in acquiring Murtons was primarily to gain control of the Adelaide/Broken Hill service. A new company, Murton Staff Pty. Ltd. was formed.
All of the original staff had the option to remain in the business and one of the original shareholders, John Hillier, was appointed as a local Manager, with responsibility to Briscoes Management Team, specifically Brian Coucill, Managing Director and Tim Williams Finance and Operations Manager.
Brian Coucill, Tim Williams and John Hillier, the shareholders and Directors of Murtons all had the opportunity at the time of the change in ownership to take up equity in the new Company.
In February 1986 Briscoes was acquired by a national coach company, Bus Australia Pty. Ltd. who had no interest in the local business in Broken Hill and in December 1987 sold its interest to the existing Murtons shareholders.
The business was progressively then restructured to focus on its core business, ie. providing local transport services. Tour and Charter coaches were sold.
Discussions initiated with the Ministry of Transport, NSW (the then Department of Transport) in early 1992, resulting in the Company being Accredited, and the Company being awarded a 5-year Commercial Contract to provide town and school services to the city of Broken Hill.
Subsequent to the satisfactory completion of industry based, university training, Tim Williams was appointed Accredited Manager in 1992, the position being a mandatory requirement of accreditation and the contract regime.
The Commercial Contract has been renewed a number of times and in November 2008 the company was awarded a new performance based Rural and Regional Type B Service Bus Contract for a further 7 years.
The Commercial Contract defines the company’s responsibilities in operating the services and provides some security of revenue levels. The Ministry of Transport NSW has audited the Company’s operation on several occasions and has expressed confidence in the Company’s ability to meet the requirements of the Contract.
With the purchase of 4 new Mercedes buses from 1997 to 2000 the opportunity was taken to relaunch the operation as Murton’s City Bus in July 1997 . The new buses were painted in a distinctive new livery, have wool covered seats, and a bright interior. A media release with photographs of the buses appeared in the local paper and a glossy full colour timetable and route map was distributed to all households in the town.
More recently Murtons have placed a greater emphasis on occupational health and safety in the workplace by the introduction of a formal policy in this area and as a positive acknowledge of this, the company has received a 5% discount from the Workers Compensation Underwriters.
John Hillier retired in 2004 and sold his shares in the company to the two remaining shareholders, Brian Coucill and Tim Williams who will continue operating Murtons with the assistance of John Hillier’s son Phillip (Maintenance Supervisor) and daughter-in-law Samantha (Operations Manager). All safety related maintenance for the bus fleet is now undertaken by a professional and fully licensed heavy vehicle repairer in Broken Hill.
The introduction of air-conditioned, wheel chair accessible Mercedes 815D buses on the Town Service in early 2005 saw a new era in passenger transport in Broken Hill providing a safe, comfortable and fully accessible bus service throughout the town.
The NSW Government decision in late 2008 to continue with the free School Student Transport Scheme (SSTS) has given Murtons the confidence to replace it’s older school buses with new 57 seat air-conditioned buses - the first of these is due at the end of February 2009.