Public transport is a public service that needs to be run for the public good, not the private profit. The privatisation of public transport is an ideological obsession of the right, which consistently makes baseless claims in order to further this ideological agenda. Privatisation consistently fails to live up to the hype of its proponents and typically does not provide any benefits for the travelling public or the taxpayer. It is purported that the privatisation of services will deliver benefits such as a more reliable and innovative service delivery as well as better value for money for taxpayers. None of these things are true. Instead, a decrease in services, higher costs, and poorer outcomes for workers and commuters alike are the only things that are realistically achieved by the privatisation of public transport.
This is currently a major issue in New South Wales. The New South Wales State Government has plans to privatise the state owned State Transit Authority, and contract out its services to private bus operators. This comes despite the fact that previous sales of State Transit operated services under the current government failing to deliver on their promises. Across bus and ferry services in Sydney and Newcastle, private operators replacing State Transit have not been able to provide a better service, and in many cases, have actually delivered worse outcomes than those achieved by State Transit.
From Sunday 17 May 2020, Transport for NSW has implemented new measures in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in light of the increased freedoms as restrictions on movement are eased. This include new restrictions on capacity in order to ensure physical distancing.
State Transit has been trialling an electric bus over the past two weeks, in order to determine the suitability of electric buses to the State Transit operation. Transport NSW Blog was lucky enough to spend an evening with the bus as it travelled throughout Sydney’s eastern suburbs. It is understood that the trial is in preparation for an order of electric buses to be made by State Transit.
The vehicle, a Yutong ZK6131HGE was based out of Waverley Depot for the duration of the trial. It has a range of approximately 300km on eachcharge, and operates on a fully electric 324kWh motor. The bus was charged using a 150KW DC charger, capable of a 2.5h quick charge. The bus is wheelchair accessible, air-conditioned and has space for two wheelchairs.
The bus mostly duplicated timetabled services, travelling just ahead of the actual service in order to collect a higher number of passengers. Two drivers from Waverley were specially picked to operate the bus over the trial periods and the drivers were at liberty to determine which trips the bus operated. This has seen the bus operate on a variety of routes regularly operated by Waverley and other Eastern Region depots. This saw the bus operate on route 309, 333, 340, 343, 357, 377, 379, 394, 396, 400 amongst others.
Despite being based at Waverley, the vehicle had to travel out to STA AMD at Leichhardt each evening to be charged. This is because Waverley depot does not currently have the ability to charge electric buses. If a full order of electric buses is made, Waverley depot will have its gas fuelling facilities converted to electric charging stations to facilitate the fleet.
Transport NSW Blog was highly impressed by the vehicle during the in service trips we joined the vehicle for. The power that the bus produced was impressive for an electric bus. It was quick off the mark and felt powerful. Travelling up Barker Street, Kingsford, on the 400, the bus was able to maintain 40km/h the entire way up the hill. It was very quiet, with only some small sounds made by the motor audible at the very rear of the bus. Suspension was sufficient, dampening all but the worst bumps in the road. Overall, it was impressive for an electric bus.
There will be changes to Opal prices from 6 July 2020. These changes are designed to reward commuters for travelling off peak and help manage social distancing measures during shoulder peak periods.
Key Changes Include;
A temporary 50 per cent discount for off-peak travel on bus, train, metro and light rail services between July 6 and September 6
A new $8.05 all day travel cap will be introduced on Saturday and Sunday.
An increase in fares for peak 0-3km bus and light rail journeys to $3.20 (currently $2.24, a 42% increase)
Changes to the definitions of peak travel times;
6:30am–10am on Sydney Trains, Sydney Metro, light rail and bus (currently 7am-9am)
6am-10am on Intercity Trains (currently 6am-8am)
3pm-7pm on Sydney Trains, Intercity Trains, Sydney Metro, light rail and bus (currently 4pm-6:30pm)
Currently, shoulder peak and Sunday services make up some of the most crowded services on the network. By increasing the cost of services at these times, the government hopes to shift travel patterns and smooth the level of loading across the entire off peak period.
The 50 per cent off-peak discount will remain in place for 3 months. After this, a permanent 30 per cent discount for off-peak travel will be introduced on bus and light rail for the first time, in line with current off-peak fares for train and metro.
Sydney Metro Western Sydney Airport has been given the go ahead for a 2026 opening alongside the airport after the Federal Government committed $1.75 billion alongside an initial $3.5 billion in State funding for the new line. The jointly funded project will cost $11 billion and will connect the new Western Sydney Airport to the existing rail network at St Marys.
The line will consist of six stations. A station at St Marys will allow for seamless connections to the Sydney Trains network. Stations at Orchard Hills and Luddenhma will allow for new town centres and urban development. Stations at the new International Business Park and Aerotropolis will service the new major commercial centres in the region, whilst a station will also be located at the airport itself.
The line will now enter the detailed planning stage, ahead of construction beginning in 2021. The line is expected to open alongside the airport in 2026.
The NSW Government has confirmed that they will be adding extra bus services along key corridors from this week. These extra services will allow for better physical distancing on public transport, and ensure that limits of 12 people per bus are more easily maintained.
An extra 110 trips each week will be added to key corridors on the regular bus network during peak periods. This is in addition to regular shuttle buses between new overflow car parking at Moore Park and Central. These services will all be operated by State Transit.
Extra services will run on the following routes
1 – Moore Park to Central EXPRESS
B1 – Mona Vale to City Wynyard via Dee Why
202 – Northbridge to City Gresham Street via North Sydney
246 – Balmoral Heights to City Wynyard via Spit Junction
247 – Taronga Zoo to City Wynyard via Spit Junction
285 – Lane Cove West to City Wynyard via Freeway
309 – Banksmeadow to Railway Square via Green Square
309X – Banksmeadow to Railway Square EXPRESS
324 – Watsons Bay to City Walsh Bay via Edgecliff
372 – Coogee to Railway Square via Randwick
At this stage no extra services will be operated by private operators. Bus NSW director Matt Threlkeld suggested that private buses “could be deployed to increase service levels in Greater Sydney during peak periods if issues relating to fare collection, destination signage, real time apps and accessibility can be overcome.”
A timeline for the privatisation of State Transit, the state government owned bus operator, has today been revealed. The first tenders will go out next month and the process is expected to be complete by April 2022.
Each region will be tendered separately, with Region 8 (Lower North Shore and Northern Beaches) being the first put out to tender next month. This will be followed by Region 7 (North West and Upper North Shore) and then Region 9 (Eastern Suburbs and Inner City).
The indicative timeline for the tender and privatisation is as follows;
Request for Tender
Region 8 (North)
(Brookvale, North Sydney and Mona Vale depots)
Region 7 (West)
(Ryde and Willoughby depots)
Region 9 (East)
(Port Botany, Randwick and Waverley depots)
The new operators will begin services in Region 8 by 1 October 2021, Region 7 by 1 December 2021 and Region 9 by 1 April 2022.
The decision to tender all three regions separately, instead of at the same time, came after market sounding determined that privatising all regions at once was far too ambitious. Further, with the impact of COVID-19, potential operators wanted more time to consider their bids in order to be in the most competitive position. With Region 8 attracting the most interest from potential operators, it was decided that it would be the first to be privatised.
At this stage, there is no firm sign of which operators will be tendering or control of these regions. Despite this, it can be reasonably assumed that all major players would be interested in these lucrative contracts. Potential tenders include Busways, Comfort Del Gro Corporation (as CDC), Deutsche Bahn (as Arriva), Kinetic, Keolis Downer, Sea Link Travel Group (as Transit Systems) and Transdev.
It had previously been announced in October 2019 that the government had intended to tender out all regions other than Region 6 in 2020 for new contracts taking over on July 1 2021. This included all the State Transit regions. As the State Transit tenders have been spilt, it will likely also mean changes to the tender process for other regions as well.
Scroll to the end of the article to see a list of Northern Beaches routes renumbered from May 3 2020.
There will be a number of upcoming changes to the numbers of some bus routes across Sydney. Focusing in on routes with non-standard route numbers (any route without a regular 3-digit route number), all routes will be renumbered into a regular system. All routes will either have a three digit number (e.g. 000, 374, 999), a three digit number followed by ‘X’ to denote an express or limited stops version of a route (e.g. 000X, 374X, 999X) or a three digit number followed by ‘N’ to denote an overnight route (e.g. 000N, 374N, 999N).
A large majority of routes already have a regular route number, so these changes will be mainly focused at ‘express’, ‘limited stops’, ‘metrobus’ or ‘T-Way’ route services. Of course, some of these routes have already received this change. All CDC Hillbus express services have been numbered with a ‘X’ suffix at the end of years, and recently STA introduced this on their Botany Road corridor. Some overnight services on flagship corridors, such as STA’s 333 and 400, have had services between midnight and 5am renumbered 333N and 400N for over a year. The changes now are to ensure that this is uniformly applied across the network.
Transport NSW Blog supports these changes to the network. We believe that it is important to retain a uniform numbering system for all bus routes across Sydney and NSW, and that integrating all routes across Sydney more uniformly into the current system is a big win. Despite this, we want to ensure that these changes are indeed applied across the whole network. Too often we see half hearted changes that get applied to half the network but then never get fully rolled out. All routes need to comply with the new system fully, and realistically all non-compliant routes should move across at the same time in order to avoid any drawn out period of noncompliant routes.
STA Region 8, covering the Lower North Shore and Northern Beaches area will be making these changes across all of its express and limited stops routes from Sunday 3 May 2020. It is understood that STA Region 9, covering the Eastern Suburbs and Inner City as well as TSA Region 6, covering the Inner West and Inner South will change over to the new system when the long awaited changes to the South East bus network due to the opening of the light rail occur. It is anyones guess as to when that and the other regions renumbering will occur, however it is expected to be completed later this year across STA and TSA.
LIST OF NORTH SHORE AND NORTHERN BEACHES ROUTE NUMBER CHANGES
Route E50 renumbered to 150X
Route E54 renumbered to 154X
Route E60 renumbered to 160X
Route E65 renumbered to 165X
Route E66 renumbered to 166X
Route E68 renumbered to 168X
Route E69 renumbered to 169X
Route E70 renumbered to 170X
Route E71 renumbered to 171X
Route E75 renumbered to 175X
Route E76 renumbered to 176X
Route E77 renumbered to 177X
Route E78 renumbered to 178X
Route E79 renumbered to 179X
Route E80 renumbered to 180X
Route E83 renumbered to 183X
Route E85 renumbered to 185X
Route E88 renumbered to 188X
Route E89 renumbered to 189X
Route L90 renumbered to 190X
No routes or timetables will be changing on 3 May 2020, only the route numbers that buses show on the destination board and in timetable apps.
Thanks to Leon Sharpe for providing images of buses displaying new route numbers for use in the article.
With COVID-19, travel has come to a grinding halt. Australians are not permitted to travel overseas from Australia and there have been significant limits placed on domestic travel as well. As a result, most of the regular passenger flights that fly into Sydney have been cancelled.
Whilst some cancelled flights may not matter to those of us at home, for Australians stuck overseas, it has become a nightmare to get home. There are now just 10 commercial international flights that are still flying into Sydney. Most of these flights operate on a less than daily basis, but they generally operate at least twice a week.
Qatar Airways is maintaining their daily QR908/909 service from their Doha hub. Passengers from nearly 70 destinations can still connect at Doha onto QR908 to Sydney, although you can’t leave the terminal due to a ban on foreign arrivals. This is the best option for passengers throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa due to the ease of connections and availability of flights with Qatar.
Malaysia Airlines is operating a twice weekly MH122/123 service from their Kuala Lumpur hub. You can still transit via KL, however Malaysia Airlines has cancelled most of their flights and as such limited options are available. You can connect to KLM flights to Amsterdam at KL on a combined Malaysia Airlines-KLM ticket.
Singapore Airlines is operating at least twice weekly on their SQ211/232 service from their Singapore hub. Australians cannot transit in Singapore as all transit passengers have been banned from Singapore. These flights are only for Australians returning home from Singapore or Singaporeans returning to Singapore.
Garuda Indonesia is operating a once weekly GA712/713 service from their Jakata Hub. Australians cannot transit in Indonesia as all transit passengers have been banned from Indonesia. These flights are only for Australians returning home from Indonesia or Indonesians returning to Indonesia.
Cathay Pacific is maintaining a trice weekly CX100/101 service from their Hong Kong hub. Australians cannot transit in Hong Kong as all transit passengers have been banned from Hong Kong. These flights are only for Australians returning home from Hong Kong or Hong Kongers returning to Hong Kong.
China Airlines is maintaining a twice weekly CI51/52 service from their Taipei hub. Australians cannot transit in Taipei as all transit passengers have been banned from Taipei. These flights are only for Australians returning home from Taipei or Taiwanese returning to Taipei.
All Nippon Airways is continuing to operate three to four times weekly on its NH879/880 service from their Tokyo Haneda hub. Passengers can still transit via Tokyo Haneda, however ANA has significantly reduced their network. Options exist for connections from the US and Europe.
United Airlines is still operating their daily UA863/870 service from their San Francisco hub. You can still connect from domestic US flights onto the service to Sydney, with United offering transit from all major American cities. Passengers can transit from overseas where that country has not been restricted from transit by US officials.
LATAM is maintaining its four times weekly LA800/801 service from their Santiago hub via Auckland. Australians can still connect from throughout South America onto LATAM flights in Santiago. LATAM has special dispensation to allow for passengers to transit through New Zealand on this flight, as otherwise New Zealand have banned transit passengers.
Air New Zealand is still operating their three times weekly NZ103/104 service from their Auckland hub. Australians cannot transit in New Zealand as all transit passengers have been banned from New Zealand. These flights are only for Australians returning home from New Zealand or New Zealanders returning to New Zealand.
Australians can obviously return home easily by commercial means if they happen to be in one of the 10 destinations with service to Sydney. For those who aren’t in one of these 10 cities, Qatar Airways via Doha, ANA via Tokyo Haneda, United via San Francisco and LATAM via Santiago are the best options. This is because they are the only four places where you can still connect onto a flight to Sydney as a transit passenger.
The L3 Kingsford Branch of the CBD and South East Light Rail opened on Friday 3 April at 5am. Check out our favourite photos from the day.
Transport NSW Blog would like to note that these photos were taken on an essential journey that would have occurred regardless of the opening of the light rail. Correct social distancing procedures were followed at all times.