Lane Cove Buses Shake Up: Don’t Use the “P” word

    The number one public transport option for Lane Cove Commuters is buses.  Over the last couple of years, Lane Cove commuters have pushed for more bus services.

    The Sydney Morning Herald reported this morning (24th October 2019) that the NSW State Government is privatising bus services in the last three parts of Sydney, Northern Beaches, Eastern Suburbs and the Lower North Shore/CBD.

    ITC asked our Local Member the Hon Anthony Roberts to comment on this article.  Anthony Roberts said that the system was not being privatised but was being opened up to the private sector to competitively tender to operate the buses.  He said this was the first step towards introducing a more flexible public transport system to benefit Lane Cove.  He noted that certain services during daytime are losing money and it would be better to have an on demand system during the day.

    After we spoke to Anthony Roberts, the Minister for Transport Andrew Constance held a press conference and issued a press release which does not use the “P” word.  Mr  Constance is promising bus commuters will receive additional services and innovative on demand options under new contracts to lift the standard of transport across Sydney.

    Andrew Constance said the reform was designed to ensure the best outcomes for both customers and staff.

    “Our bus drivers are the best in the world. They do an amazing job in getting people around this incredible city and play a vital role in helping to tackle Sydney’s congestion,” Mr Constance said.

    “Bus patronage has increased by more than 50 per cent over the past six years. This rate of growth outstrips that of all other forms of public transport and we need to address this increasing demand as a matter of urgency.”

    Lane Cove Bus Service Routes To Be Put Out for Tender

    The NSW Government will invite the world’s leading public transport operators, Australian and international, to bid for contracts for 13 of Sydney’s bus contract regions (including Lane Cove) over the next three years.  Lane Cove’s state transit region will be put out to tender in early 2020 and it expected a contract will be signed by the end of 2020.

    Mr Constance said a competitive tender of all Sydney metropolitan bus contracts will enable the NSW Government to reinvest more into delivering better services to commuters.

    “We know customers want more buses, more often, as well as a mix of bus services that cater to their needs. This includes high-frequency services on major routes, like the B-Line, and frequent direct options such as on-demand services for short, local trips.”

    “The NSW Government will engage with the private sector to transform the current, one-size-fits-all model of service delivery, to one with multiple service types including high-capacity routes and local and on-demand travel.”

    Why NSW Government Claims Buses are Not Being Privatised?

    It might be semantics but the NSW Government is claiming this is not privitsation as the assets are not being sold off.  Mr Constance stresses they are bringing in the private sector to run government taxpayer-owned assets and it’s called franchising.

    The NSW Government will continue to:

    • own State Transit buses and all other assets such as depots,
    • regulate timetables, safety, and service priorities, and
    • set fares as they are today, under the Opal system.

    The reform will also see Sydney’s ageing diesel bus fleet replaced by electric vehicles to reduce the impact of buses on the health and environment of our city.

    “Making the switch to an entirely electric bus fleet will deliver huge benefits to the community in terms of reducing air and noise pollution, as well as our incredible drivers,” Mr Constance said.

    “As part of this process, we will challenge the industry to begin an ambitious transformation of our bus fleet from particulate emitting diesel to zero-emission buses.

    “The experience of other leading European cities demonstrates that a rapid transition to zero-emission buses is possible and I have asked Transport for NSW to work with operators and bus suppliers to develop a plan to transition our fleet as part of the tender process.

    “Zero-emission buses are becoming the standard with the significant environmental, health and operational cost benefits being experienced now in cities like London, Paris and Amsterdam.  As a truly global city Sydney deserves the same.”

    Does On Demand Work?

    You may have noticed the Keoride Vans in Lane Cove.  These vans operate an on demand service to Macquarie Park.  ITC has not heard any negative comments about this service.  You can read more about this on demand bus service here.

    Will Bus Drivers Lose Their Jobs?

    Mr Constance said there would be jobs for the majority of State Transit award staff with the new operator(s), including all bus drivers and maintenance staff, whose jobs will be guaranteed for two years. These staff will also transfer with all their accrued entitlements such as annual leave, sick leave, long service leave, superannuation and their three-year travel pass.

    “Today’s announcement is not a reflection on the performance of State Transit bus drivers who have been doing an excellent job dealing with the strong surge in passenger numbers and demanding road conditions,” Mr Constance said.

    “We expect more jobs for bus drivers to be created due to the extra services that will be provided.

    “We have started engaging with all staff and their union representatives about today’s announcement, and will continue this right through the tender and transition process.

    Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey said the proposal was a betrayal by the coalition which didn’t mention the plan before the March 2019 state election.

    “Job security has just been shredded for drivers, while support staff in finance and administration face an even more uncertain future,” he said in a statement.

    “Under any privatisation, costs must be cut to create a profit margin for the new operator. That means jobs and services suffer.”

    But Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey said the proposal was a betrayal by the coalition which didn’t mention the plan before the March 2019 state election.

    “Job security has just been shredded for drivers, while support staff in finance and administration face an even more uncertain future,” he said in a statement.

    “Under any privatisation, costs must be cut to create a profit margin for the new operator. That means jobs and services suffer.”

    Our cover photo was snapped this morning minutes after we spoke to Anthony Roberts – we took a photo of the first bus we saw – check out the advertising!!!!

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    1 COMMENT

    1. It’s not a question of semantics, Mr Constance and Mr Robert s don’t seem to understand the concept of franchising.

      A licence to operate a public service previously managed by an arm of the State is not a franchising, it’s a privatization. Even if the assets are not sold.
      Sydney airport was leased for a 99 years period in 2002 to a private operator, but the land is still owned by the Crown.

      NSW government will have spent $ 3 bn for a 12 km light rail project in the CBD once completed, where they could have deployed readily available Electric Buses at a much lower cost…. So now they are offering North Shore residents Uber-like services or Maxi-taxi with an App …? Looking forward to see the new timetables.