Lane Cove Buses Once Step Closer to “Privatisation” or “Franchising”

Public Transport, and in particular buses, has always been a hot topic in Lane Cove.  Over the last couple of years, Lane Cove commuters have pushed for more bus services.

The NSW Government has now taken another step towards changing the way bus services are delivered.

In October 2019 the NSW State Government published a plan to “franchise” the buses servicing Sydney, Northern Beaches, Eastern Suburbs and the Lower North Shore/CBD.  These Bus Areas would be operated by private contractors with the NSW Government owning the buses and depots. The unions have labelled this move as privatisation.


When announcing the plans to franchise the buses, the NSW Minister for Transport and Roads said he would invite leading public transport operators, Australian and international, to lodge a bid.

Lane Cove buses (are part of the North Sydney region – which is region 8).   Transport for NSW has now invited interested parties to tender (see more here).

Plan Not Well Received by Drivers or Commuters

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW Branch launched a campaign and website to stop the privatisation and encouraged commuters and supporters to sign an online petition to stop the privatisation. (details  here) 

The RTBU has now launched another campaign to raise awareness of the tender process.

In an email to supporters they said:

“Selling off public services for private operation in the middle of a pandemic is a disgrace. The NSW Government isn’t even bothering to wait for the Parliament debate that you helped secure when you joined with 22,000 other people and signed a petition demanding the Government reconsider its shocking privatisation plans.”

“We’ve asked all state MPs in NSW to take a pledge opposing the privatisation of our transport services. Several members of the Labor Party, The Greens, and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have already promised to protect our public bus services.”

More details about the campaign are here.

The  Transport Action Network sent out an email on 24th June 2020 – extract below

“The NSW Government has just released tenders for the private takeover of Sydney’s last publicly operated buses.

This is despite overwhelming public opposition to the move.  Just days ago, 22,000 petition signatories demanding an end to bus privatisation forced a second debate on the issue in Parliament.

We are calling on Premier Berejiklian to give the people of NSW an iron-clad guarantee that no stops or services will be cut, and no workers will be worse off under privatisation. But we need your help.

Will you call the Premier’s electorate office on 02 9439 4199 and demand she commit to preserving our bus network?

If you live in one of the affected regions and your MP is a member of the Government, you can call their office and ask them to oppose this decision”

Anthony Roberts in Favour of “Privatisation”

Last year, ITC asked our Local Member the Hon Anthony Roberts to comment on this plan.  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.

It’s a shame that the only on-demand service in Lane Cove has been cancelled.  The Keoride buses from Lane Cove to Macquarie Park ceased operating earlier this year.  Read more here.

Lane Cove Council’s Response

Public Transport is a State Government matter, however it impacts all Lane Cove residents.

Councillor Andrew Zbik tabled a Notice of Motion at the Lane Cove Council’s March Meeting asking Lane Cove Council to write to the NSW Premier and our local member Anthony Roberts to express opposition to the proposed privatisation or franchise of local Sydney Buses services in the Lane Cove local government area.  He also asked Lane Cove Council to seek assurances that bus services enjoyed by the people of Lane Cove not be cut or removed.

To support his motion Councillor Zbik highlighted the issues with Ausgrid since it has been privatised.

His Notice of Motion includes the following:

The recent storms in Lane Cove during February resulted in large parts of the Lane Cove LGA going without electricity for up to a week. On Monday 9th March during NSW Parliament Budget Estimates hearings is was revealed that Ausgrid is currently operating at its lowest staffing level in years, shedding almost 3,000 jobs under the current Government. The electricity operator’s workforce is 3228 – well below the legally required 3570 employees. What’s more, leaked documents revealed last week showed that Ausgrid has plans to cut another 500 jobs next year, bringing their total workforce down to almost 2,700. The reduced number of electricians that are employed by Ausgrid was cited as one of the major factors contributing to the delay in restoring electricity services to local residents. It is clear that the privatisation or the franchise of public owned entities has resulted in reduced quality of service delivery.

Councillors Zbik’s motion was lost.

Councillor David Brooks-Horn moved a motion (seconded by Councillor Karola Brent) that Council writes to the NSW Premier – The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian and Member for Lane Cove The Hon. Anthony Roberts to seek assurances that bus services enjoyed by the people of Lane Cove not be cut or removed if bus services in our area are privatised or franchised.

What do you think?  Are you for or against “privatisation”?

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