The 4x4 heavy-duty off-road vehicles, known as ‘truck buses’, will be used by Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG) and QGC to safely shuttle crews across project sites in the Surat and Bowen basins.

Sargent Chief Executive Officer Grant Chugg said demand for the specialised bus was growing as more gas projects came online with safety as an ongoing major focus.

“We chose the 4000 series with 18 seats because it is better suited to the gas industry and the number of people they need to move at a time, and meets all the stringent transport safety requirements for pipeline projects,” Mr Chugg said.

“Truck buses are in demand by the mining industry because of their reputation for safe operation, sturdy and long lasting construction and their ability to operate in extreme terrains.

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“The introduction of these 'go anywhere' vehicles to our fleet is an exciting new direction for Sargent and part of our strategy to become a leading provider to the mining and infrastructure industries.”

At the time of writing, ten truck buses had been ordered for QGC and five for APLNG, with four in use by QGC. Sunshine Coast-based company All Terrain Warriors was building the vehicles to Sargent’s specifications, with all 15 buses expected to be delivered by August 2012.

Mr Chugg said the truck buses had been modified to cope with extreme conditions as well as provide extra safety for crews.

“The main modifications include a single rear-wheel conversion, which allows for a better ride and handling over common mining surfaces such as mud, greater fuel efficiency, and means no more rocks stuck in dual wheels,” he said.

“The vehicles also feature roll-over protection, collision avoidance and GPS tracking systems, and parabolic spring suspension, which delivers improved flexibility, stability, load capacity and shock absorption.”

The buses are also built for comfort with air-conditioning, a large aisle, wide seat bases, extra leg room and a waterproof interior, which can be hosed out.

“Additionally, the life span of the body of these trucks is between ten and twelve years, and around six years for the chassis, which can be easily replaced,” Mr Chugg said.

“This works out to be extremely cost effective over a long term when compared to replacing entire vehicles or hiring numerous light vehicles to transport crews.

“Sargent’s new truck buses are creating interest in other mining areas like Chinchilla and Dalby, and we look forward to supplying more of these vehicles to the industry in the future.”

Sargent provides rental and maintenance of commercial vehicles to a wide range of customers throughout Australia. The company’s fleet of 3,800 vehicles comprises four-wheel drives, two-wheel drives, trucks, buses and specialised vehicles, which are provided over a national network of company-owned branches and agencies.