JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

New 'private bus club' for business-class workers


Aisha Dow

But will it create a class divide.

SuitJet fans Murray Waterson and Sara Hale with cup winner Efficient.

SuitJet fans Murray Waterson and Sara Hale with cup winner Efficient. Photo: Justin McManus

A new "private club" commuter bus service will allow Melbourne's white-collar professionals to shun the unsavoury aspects of public transport but the business' founder has denied it will create a commuter class divide.

Next month the start-up company SuitJet will begin ferrying professionals in and out of the CBD every morning and evening.

After all, as one potential customer said at Tuesday's launch, "You never know who you're going to be sitting next to on the train".

The company has a fleet of three Mercedes-Benz customised coaches named after Melbourne Cup winning horses but could quickly expand that to 20 within a number of weeks, using surplus Dysons Bus Services vehicles.

The buses will leave from select suburban hotel car parks and sporting grounds and arrive at dropoff points in the CBD and Docklands, with the first pick-up locations to be driven by customer demand.

Early signs indicate the business may find its biggest market in areas let down by yawning underinvestment in the state's public transport infrastructure.

SuitJet co-founder Darren Heiberg said the highest number of registrations of interest had come from Mernda in the outer north and Caroline Springs in the outer west.

Both these postcodes are without a railway station and although one has been pledged for Caroline Springs by 2016, no funding commitment has been made for the Mernda rail extension.

Whittlesea mayor Mary Lalios said "residents shouldn't have to rely on private transport".

Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton said a lot of outer suburb residents could not access good-quality public transport but they might not necessarily want to travel into the city or be able to pay for a private fare.

A return ticket on SuitJet will cost $30, more than double the maximum myki fee but Mr Heiberg denied the service would create a class divide. The former Jetstar executive said he was already seriously considering changing the name of the company to remove the "suit" reference.

"I was quite nervous about calling it SuitJet. The demographic is white-collar workers, everyone from the receptionist to the junior accountant through to the middle management," he said.

Mr Heiberg said the express "business class" service would mean professionals would be able to spend an hour answering their emails in a productive environment instead of being stuck behind the wheel.

"That's an hour of work you don't have to do after having dinner with the kids and a cup of tea with your wife," he said.

"Public transport is too successful in that demand exceeds supply, and that's leading to people seeking new alternatives."

Glen Waverley events manager Sara Hale has registered for SuitJet. She said she often could not get a seat on public transport and only this week she had to deal with a fellow commuter who was "rude and abrupt".

She wished she could travel to work in "more style and comfort".

In San Francisco private buses for Google employees have been targeted by protesters who say they get in the way of municipal buses. 

108 comments so far

  • Doesn't sound very pleasant to be commuting such a long time.

    Date and time
    August 27, 2014, 6:52AM
    • Why is Suit jet and Uber in Geelong filling gaps left wide open by the lazy stinking State Government? How much money are they paying DOT staff to develop just these kinds of innovations and why aren't these systems in place already?

      Kevin V Russell
      Date and time
      August 27, 2014, 6:52AM
      • Hmm, so you want train services to your door step eh?

        Tell us all leftie, where does the money come from to pay for that? I mean, it was labor that got Vic into so much debt that an asset had to be sold- remember the state bank being sold to pay off labor debts?
        I mean, the bank of NSW became the Wales and then westpac but Vic's bank was absorbed into the commonwealth to pay of cain/kirner's debt.

        Well, fairfax has done a good job in promoting entitlement and soon it seems you're going to get a real comrade for a premier who will borrow like a mad man. You can expect roads to be sold off to pay for new late trains that will still be run by striking unions.

        Maybe labor in power can sell off some of the gardens to pay for the services you demand, hmm, maybe no more free art galleries as well.

        # I'm with Terry McCrann.

        Date and time
        August 27, 2014, 9:40AM
      • Alex Net Government debt as percentage of GSP was lower under the ALP.But lets not let the facts get in the way of a good old fashioned rant.
        Clearly your upset in the dying days of this government.Agree with McCrann ?.So you want a third Lib premier in four years. Good luck.

        mount martha
        Date and time
        August 27, 2014, 11:13AM
      • Alex, I don't know where you got your history lesson from...a Liberal mummy and daddy? State bank went belly up due to poor management, taking on bad debt - nothing to do with "state debt" or the government of the day.

        R U Kidding
        Date and time
        August 27, 2014, 11:23AM
    • Just like private education, surely this should be subsidised by the taxpayer.

      Dr. Winthrop Bottomsworth
      Date and time
      August 27, 2014, 7:18AM
      • .... that is irresistable logic!.....I hate it!

        costa parki mik
        Date and time
        August 27, 2014, 8:16AM
      • Just like private education, we should get the tax payer to pay for it, then charge them again to use something else ...

        Double pay day
        Date and time
        August 27, 2014, 9:52AM
      • Private education is NOT subsidised by the tax payer. But it seems there are those who simply cannot understand that. Labor does. Why do you think Labor gives more to private each year rather than stop funding altogether. Every child in this country regardless of family income is entitled to go to a government school. Packer iwould be fully entitled to send his kids to one. And the government picks up the tab. All of it. A truly equal system would see the government paying the [private school exactly the same as it would for a public school; not a cent more. Partents pay the difference for what the school charges. That would be fair. However, what is paid is to private schools is only about 60% on average of that amount. so for every kid that goes to a private school the government is saving 40% of what it would have cost if the kid went public. So at the end of the day the parents of the private school kids are the ones subsidising the piblic system to the tune of that 40% which they have to pay rather than the government. That is why no Labor government has stopped the funding. Indeed the more kids they can encourage into private the greater the savings. I'm sure someone will respond with some purile comment about class but the arithmatic is undeniable.

        Mr Chipps
        Date and time
        August 27, 2014, 1:51PM
    • The only "class divide" is in the minds of the fashionable lefties of Fairfax.

      It looks to me like it's a private service, no Myki, no taxpayer subsidies, WiFi on board, a premium service at a premium price.

      Looks like it may free up seats on the PT buses for the proletariat. Fairfax should be delighted!

      Date and time
      August 27, 2014, 7:22AM

      More comments

      Make a comment

      You are logged in as [Logout]

      All information entered below may be published.

      Error: Please enter your screen name.

      Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

      Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

      Error: Please enter your comment.

      Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

      Post to

      You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

      Thank you

      Your comment has been submitted for approval.

      Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

      HuffPost Australia

      Follow Us

      Featured advertisers