Bus depot opens

The new Castlemaine Bus Lines depot on the Pyrenees Highway in Chewton has officially been opened.

Joint owners, Geoff Hansford and Cheryl Parsons, did the honours in front of about 50 people last Friday.

The new depot will allow the company to expand in future years, with two new school buses already in the yard and a third school bus planned to arrive later this year.

Geoff Hansford and Cheryl Parsons outside the new Castlemaine Bus Lines depot in Chewton.

“Both of the school buses have seat belts – one can accommodate 71 students and the other 57 students,” Mr Hansford said.

“We are also looking at getting another town bus next year.”

The company has provided transport services in Castlemaine and surrounding towns for more than 50 years and was previously based in the old brick building on the corner of Forest and Barker streets.

It was originally built in 1951 by Alf Bentley, who operated Bentley Motors, and the name of the business was changed to Castlemaine Bus Lines some time later.

Alan and Joyce Hansford and their parents, the Hamilys, bought the business in 1966 and the company continued to grow through the 1970s until a tragic car accident claimed Alan’s life.

A short while later, Joyce Hansford took over the reigns of the company and she managed it until shortly before she passed away in 2006. Her son, Geoff, then took over as managing director.

The company grew from just six buses in the early days to having 24 buses on the road now. It also added an extra depot near the Castlemaine site and purchased Baileys Motor Service in Maldon to house the growing fleet.

The new Chewton depot is packed with environmental features including LED lighting, a 150,000-litre water tank and a 20,000-litre, above-ground fuel tank.

“We want to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible,” Mr Hansford said. “We will be fitting solar panels on the roof in the near future and we are aiming for the new depot to be energy neutral by the end of the year.”

The original Castlemaine Bus Lines sign was recently removed from the front of the old building, the letters were restored and then erected on the new depot.

The old depot was sold earlier this year to a Melbourne couple for an undisclosed sum and according to a planning application lodged with Mount Alexander Shire Council it is destined to be converted into a new home for five restaurants.

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