IN CONTROL: Del Cole bought her first bus in 1974 and now runs a fleet of 41.
IN CONTROL: Del Cole bought her first bus in 1974 and now runs a fleet of 41. Christine Rossouw

Bus business solve's problem of getting the kids to school

IT was 1974, and a 30-year-old Del Cole was turning heads.

She decided to solve the problem of transporting her children to school from the Burbank area by purchasing her own bus, but this was 1974 and not the kind of thing women did.

"My husband Lee and I had just moved up from NSW and his earnings had been slashed from $200 a week to just $94," Ms Cole said.

The Coles had four children, the youngest of which had just been born.

"The local bus was for sale so I went home and told my father and Lee that I was going to buy it and become a bus driver," she said.

"They were horrified."

Ms Cole approached the Commonwealth Bank for a loan to purchase the bus which came to be known as "The Butter Box", but was turned down.

"They said that as a woman going into business I was too great a risk," she said.

Undeterred, she persevered with her dream and eventually came by the money she needed.

Her license applications were also met with resistance at the Department of Transport, due to her gender.

"They initially told me to go home and fetch my husband," she said.

"Eventually they accepted that they were going to have to deal with me."

Today, 72 year-old Del Cole is at the head of the Mt Gravatt Coach and Travel bus service.

She has 41 buses in her fleet and employs 100 staff.

"Male truck and bus drivers were always surprised to see a woman behind the wheel," Ms Cole said.

With "The Butter Box" she provided a school bus service, transporting approximately 62 children to and from school Monday to Friday.

"The easy part was driving the bus, the challenging part was controlling 62 unruly children," she said.

"Being a mother definitely worked to my advantage, as I had already developed parenting and children skills."

While she had to deal with a fair amount of intimidation at the onset of her career, Ms Cole said being a bus driver was a marvellous job for a woman with children.

"Finding a job that allowed me to look after my children and earn money at the same time was very difficult in the 70s," she said.

"Back then, if you had a child, you looked after it, women had to sacrifice their careers and working lives for motherhood."

Ms Cole attributes her success in a male-dominated world to determination and confidence.

"I thought if men could do it, why couldn't women, so I made up my mind and went for it."



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