Farewell Region 6 – The Network

Region 6, currently operated by State Transit and soon to be handed over to Transit Systems Australia covers a large area making up much of the Inner West and Inner South of Sydney.

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 7.47.26 pm.png
Region 6 STA operating area shown in light blue

The first government run Inner West bus route was Route 59 from Concord to City York Street which began operation on 27 January 1933. Throughout 1933 dozens of other routes began operation including Route 65 from Central Railway to Ashbury and Route 88 from Central to Enfield. The first government run tram replacement service also began in 1933, between Hurlstone Park and Summer Hill.

Department of Road Transport & Tramways purchased the Metropolitan Omnibus Transport Company that same year, taking over their routes and their Burwood depot. This allowed for a massive expansion of government bus services.

Throughout the following two decades, the government opened three more depots at Leichhardt, Kingsgrove and Tempe. These allowed for further expansion of the bus network. Most of the earlier routes were concentrated on tram feeder services around Ashfield, Canterbury and Strathfield. High capacity double decker buses were also introduced on popular routes.

One of the biggest network expansions was in the 1950s. The previously extensive Inner West tram network was decommissioned and replaced entirely with bus services. These tram replacement services still make up the majority of services today.

In 1987, Metroline 400 began operating in the region allowing for the first time, cross-regional bus connections without requiring passengers to travel into the city and back out again. Since then many new cross regional routes such as the 348, 370, 492 and 530 have been introduced.

In 1996, the reach of STA in the Inner west was expanded south to Hurstville and Kogarah and later in 2000 expanded west to Parramatta and Olympic Park. The most recent complete overhaul of Inner West bus services occurred back in 2010, as part of the process of creating the bus contract regions.

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 8.10.17 pm

Today there are over 225 bus routes comprised of around 60 public bus routes and 165 school bus routes. Some high profile routes in the region today include the Route 370 from Coogee to Leichhardt, Route 400 from Bondi Junction to Burwood, Route 438 from Abbotsford to City Martin Place, Route 461 from Burwood to City Domain and Route M10 from Leichhardt to Maroubra.

From July 1st, these services will no longer be operated by government owned STA ending 85 years of government bus services in the Inner West.

Opal Fare Increase from July, but Wollongong Shuttle still free…for now

As of 2 July, Opal fares will increase by 2.2 per cent, in line with the consumer price index (CPI). The Senior/Pensioner Gold Opal won’t change and will remain at $2.50 for all day travel any day of the week.


The fare adjustments will also impact daily and weekly caps. The daily cap will increase from $15.40 to $15.80 for adults and from $7.70 to $7.90 for child/concession ticket holders, with the Sunday cap increasing form $2.60 to $2.70 for all passengers. The weekly fare cap will increase from $61.60 to $63.20 for adults and from $30.80 to $31.60 for child/concession ticket holders.

Despite plans to bring the Wollongong Shuttle into the Opal Network as part of this fare increase, a funding agreement was reached between Transport for NSW, Wollongong Council and the University of Wollongong to keep the service free for the next 12 months.

Dodgy Dealings – The non-Inner West bus routes to be privatised

Despite Constance assurances from the State government that only Region 6 Inner West Bus routes are being sold off to Transit Systems and that all other current STA routes will remain in government hands, it now seems that isn’t the case.


The STA network is very complex and contains some routes which stretch across 2 or more regions. This has meant that some trade offs have had to be made when it comes to delegating routes in the privatisation, with some routes crossing into Region 6 retained by STA and some routes with portions outside of Region 6 being handed over to TSA.

What we are now seeing is the proposed privatisation of routes that either barely scrape the edge of Region 6 and are predominantly based in other regions or in some cases don’t actually operate in Region 6 at all. These decisions come despite constant assurances from Transport Minister Andrew Constance that only Region 6 Inner West bus routes are being sold off.

It is understood by Transport NSW Blog that Transit Systems played a large role in choosing which bus routes they would and wouldn’t operate, in some cases cherry picking more desirable routes, perhaps better suited to STA operation. We also understand that STA was given very limited say in this process, despite the fact that numerous routes in their operating regions are being given away to TSA.

There is some debate over what actually constitutes Region 6 and whether or not the routes have been fairly divided based on the offical drawn boundary maps published by Transport for NSW. For example the eastern boundary of Region 6 on offical maps is from Botany Bay, the Alexandria Canal, Huntley Street, Sydney Park Road, Illawarra Rail line to Central. Theoretically, this puts many routes planned for TSA operation solely in STA operating regions.

There are other instances in which the operation of a route would likely be more efficient in STA hands. If the purpose of privatisation is to make more efficient cheaper services, moving depots further away from termini seems counter intuitive. In one example, the closest STA depot to a routes western terminus (located on the Bordet of Region 6) is 5km away at Ryde, whilst TSA will have a depot 5km away in Leichhardt, this probably doesn’t cause efficiency problems. The bigger issue is when you look at distances from the eastern terminus. The nearest STA depot in Randwick is 3km away, whilst the nearest TSA depot will be in Tempe, some 12km away. In this case it is clear the only consideration has been the routes western terminus being in Region 6 as the route would likely have been much more efficient in STA hands.

The following routes either with only portions inside or entirely outside Region 6 that will be handed over to Transit Systems are;

305, 308, 348, 389, 418, 440, 530, M10, M20, M30, M41 and M50.

With some of these routes, their placement in Region 6 is understandable. Most of these routes are long cross regionals with both large stretches in and out of region 6, making it difficult to classify a route as more Region 6 or more other STA region. It is incorrect however to characterise the privatisation of STA services as limited to the Inner West region 6, as many of these routes operate in Regions 7 and 9.

In particular, I have taken issue with a few routes that I believe would be better off served by STA rather than Transit Systems. The reasons for this are listed next to the route;

  • 305 Railway Square to Stamford Plaza Mascot; Route 305 operates predominantly within STA Region 9 with arguably no part in Region 6. Its operation would be more efficient from Region 9 depots.
  • 308 City Australia Square to Marrickville Metro; Route 308 is arguably a Region 9 route, being mostly located just within the western edge of Region 9. Operation could potentially be more efficient from Region 9 depots.
  • 389 Bondi Junction to Maritime Museum via Five Way; Route 389 operates predominantly within STA Region 9. Its operation would be more efficient from Region 9 depots.
  • M20 Gore Hill to Botany via Zetland; Route M20 operates predominantly within STA Regions 7 and 9, with arguably no part in Region 6. Its operation would be more efficient from Region 7 and 9 depots.
  • M50 Coogee to Drummoyne via Central – Route M50 is interesting, whilst part of the route is technically spilt between Region 6 and STA Region 9, like many other of the Metrobus routes, I believe its operation would still be more efficient from Region 7 and 9 depots. The example above was referring to this route.

In some cases the line between whether a route is better off in Region 6 with TSA or with STA is very fuzzy. In some cases, it is likely that the right decision has been made, but I’m not convinced on the merits of every decision made. Questions need to asked about this process. Are Botany, Mascot and Zetland really the inner west? Should one out of many duplicating routes have been privatised whilst other aren’t? How much power were TSA really given in this decision? Were the STA consulted enough about the changes?


Sydney’s Transport History – Bradfield

Here at Transport NSW Blog we are starting a new 10 parts series, Sydney’s Transport History. we will be looking at biggest moments in NSW transport history, from the first railways through the wars and onto the Olympics. Look out for instalments on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month through October. Today we are starting with Bradfield.

Dr. John Jacob Crew Bradfield CMG is perhaps the most famous civil engineer in NSW transport history. He is best known for his design of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Bradfield Railway Scheme.

Bradfield was appointed Chief Engineer for Metropolitan Railway Construction in 1912. He devised a grand scheme that involved electrification of suburban railways, an underground CBD subway and a railway bridge over Sydney Harbour. World War One put a temporary halt to these plans in 1915.

In 1922, a bill to allow for the construction of a Sydney Harbour Bridge was passed by Parliament. The building of the bridge coincided with the construction of Bradfield proposed underground subways, now known as the City Circle Line. The bridge was designed with four traffic lanes in the middle and four train tracks, two on each side. These railway tracks were linked into the Wynyard Station of the subway. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened on 19 March 1932. The road over the bridge was named the Bradfield Highway, after Bradfield.

The eastern tracks on the bridge were designed for the never completed Northern Beaches line, however they were used for Trams until 1958 when they were replaced with extra traffic lanes. The western tracks are used for the North Shore line, which previously terminated at Milsons Point in North Sydney.

The City Circle Subway line began construction in 1923, initially with two stub lines. A stub line to St James via Museum station opened in 1926. A line through Town Hall and Wynyard stations to connect to the new Sydney Harbour Bridge Lines was completed at the same time as the bridge in 1932. The City Circle loop was finally complete in 1955 with the opening of Circular Quay station.

Many sections of the proposed railways were never constructed. Some small sections of the uncompleted railways, such as extra platforms at Central and Wynyard and underground tunnel at St James were built. The proposed Eastern Suburbs railway was later built in 1979, but along a different alignment.

Bradfield electrification proposal proceeded, but much slower than envisaged by Bradfield and was not complete until the 1990s. Bradfield retied in July 1933 but continued on as a consultant for the City Circle construction.

A map of the Bradfield Railway Scheme
Part of the constructed Bradfield Railway Scheme with the Bradfield designed Sydney Harbour Bridge


More trains and more services for the T4 and T8 Lines

The number of trains which can run during the morning and afternoon peaks on the T4 Illawarra Line and T8 Airport Line will be increased, following an $880 million investment in technology improvements to modernise the Sydney Trains network.


Premier Gladys Berejiklian said funding in NSW Budget 2018 will allow for five more trains an hour during the peak on the T4 Illawarra Line from Cronulla, which is an increase of up to 30 per cent in capacity.

The technology improvements will also allow for eight more services an hour on the T8 Airport Line at the International, Domestic, Mascot and Green Square stations, meaning trains at least on average every four minutes instead every six, along with extra services from Revesby.

These upgrades will be delivered in stages with services coming online progressively from the early 2020s.

“At the moment our rail network is complex and reliant on old technologies which limits the number of services we can provide,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“That is why we are making significant investments to improve rail infrastructure and ensure we can continue to meet the growing demand for rail services.

“The T4 Illawarra Line and T8 Airport Line are the first beneficiaries of these signalling upgrades, which will be rolled out across the network – significantly boosting capacity and reliability for all train customers.”

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the investment in this technology was an important step in boosting capacity of existing Transport assets.

“We have all had the experience of waiting on an overcrowded platform, so this technology investment will contribute to increasing services and making journeys more comfortable,” Mr Perrottet said.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said the program will start to upgrade parts of the network with state-of-the-art digitalised signalling and control systems used by some of the best railways around the world.

“While we’re building the world class Sydney Metro, it’s important we take action to bring the existing suburban, intercity, and freight services into the 21st Century.

“We are investing in this signalling technology to get more trains on the tracks. Turning old rail into new rail,” Mr Constance said.

In response to recent growth in demand on the T4 Illawarra and T8 Airport lines the program will initially prioritise work to prepare the network to deliver:

  • Up to 30 per cent increase in peak suburban services on the T4 Illawarra Line, as well as more services for South Coast customers.
  • More services for the T8 Airport Line, including a potential 80 per cent increase at the International, Domestic, Mascot and Green Square stations during the morning peak, as well as extra services from Revesby and Campbelltown in south west Sydney.

“For future stages of More Trains, More Services, we’re also investigating how we can add extra services on other lines that we know continue to have high demand, like the T1 Western and Northern Line,” Mr Constance said.

The initial investment of $880 million goes towards developing and starting deployment of digital systems to replace legacy signalling and train control with modern, internationally proven, intelligent systems.

It will also be used for planning the initial stages of the T4 and T8 program, which over the next 10 years will deliver:

  • More services that will reduce wait times, meet demand and provide more seats for long distance customers.
  • Faster travel times for customers through digital train control technology and upgraded rail infrastructure, creating more opportunities for express trains.
  • Improved reliability and reduce customer impacts from incidents.

NSW Budget brings thousands more weekly bus services across the State

More than 2,000 extra weekly bus services will be rolled out across NSW in the next 12 months


Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance today confirmed the increased services will be part of  the $1.5 billion investment for bus services throughout NSW, including regional and metropolitan bus services, school services and financing of new and replacement buses.

“It is the NSW Government’s strong economic management which is allowing us to provide people across the State with the services they need and deserve,” Mr Perrottet said.

“These extra bus services demonstrate once again that this is a Budget which puts people first and delivers for the community.”

NSW Budget 2018 includes a $15.6 million boost to the Growth Services Program which will provide the extra buses and services where people need them the most.

“As well as delivering thousands of extra services we are also purchasing more than 30 new buses and over 400 replacement buses this year, with around 20 of these new buses to cater for the increased demand in school services across the State,” Mr Constance said.

“Some of the service improvements include expanding route 533 from Sydney Olympic Park to Chatswood via Wentworth Point, which currently operates during peak times only, to operate through Wentworth Point during weekdays and on weekends.

“We’re also delivering more than 1,000 extra weekly services on the Northern Beaches to improve access to the new hospital and meet the growing demand in the Frenchs Forest area.

“In Western Sydney, more than 500 extra weekly services will be introduced in including greater travel options for customers either side of the morning and afternoon peaks.”


The following routes are in line for upgraded services some time in the next 12 months.

More than 500 extra services a week on these routes:

· 614X Crestwood to City via M2

· 662 Box Hill to Riverstone

· 705 Blacktown to Parramatta via Seven Hills

· 783 Penrith to Werrington Station via Jordan Springs

· 804 Bonnyrigg to Parramatta via Fairfield

· 841 Gledswood Hills to Leppington

· 869 Ingleburn to Prestons

· M61 Baulkham Hills to City via M2

· T72 Rouse Hill to Quakers Hill via Alex Avenue

· T74 Stanhope Gardens to Schofields Station

More than 1,000 extra services a week on these routes plus  two new routes and an extended route to support the new Northern Beaches Hospital precinct:

· New route 141 Manly to Austlink via Balgowlah and Northern Beaches Hospital

· 169 Manly and Dee Why to City via Northern Beaches Hospital and Seaforth

· New route 193 Austlink to Warringah Mall via Frenchs Forest and Northern Beaches Hospital

· 136 Manly to Chatswood via Dee Why and Frenchs Forest

· 270, 271 Frenchs Forest District to City

More than 600 extra services a week on the following routes:

· 194 St Ives to City

· 251 Lane Cove West to City via Lane Cove

· 253 Riverview to City via Lane Cove

· 285 Mars Road Lane Cove to City via Lane Cove

· 288 Epping to City via North Ryde

· 292 Lane Cove North to City

· 293 Marsfield to City via Epping Road

· 294 Macquarie University to City via Epping Road

· 313 Coogee to Bondi Junction

· 328 Darling Point to Bondi Junction via Edgecliff

· 343 Kingsford to City via Rosebery

· 386, 387 Vaucluse to Bondi Junction

· 501 West Ryde to Railway Square via Ultimo

· 533 Sydney Olympic Park to Chatswood via Ryde and Wentworth Point

· M54 Parramatta to Macquarie Park via Epping

· X10 Pagewood to Railway Square via Botany Road

· 262, 263 Cameron Park to Charlestown

· 32 Brooks Reach to Dapto

· 686 Katoomba to Echo Point

Featured Bus Route – June 2018

This month our Featured Bus Route is Route 461 operated by State Transit. It is one of the routes that will be handed over to Transit Systems on July 1 as part of the Region 6 Privatisation.


Route 461 operates between Burwood Station and City Domain via Burwood Road, Parramatta Road, University of Sydney and Railway Square. Some services later at night are truncated at City Museum

Services to Burwood along Parramatta Road have been operating since the 1950s, around the same time as the closure of Sydney’s Tram Network. The 461 has been operating along its current route since October 2015. Prior to that, there have been many variations to the route including its terminus location in both Burwood and the City and the route it takes through the city. In the 2013 “Sydney’s Bus Future” report, the 461 was designated as a rapid route, with priority to be given in terms of bus priority infrastructure and timetable upgrades.

Route 461 operates between 5am and Midnight daily. During peak hour the service runs every 10 minutes whilst off peak it runs every 30 minutes. The service is operated out of Burwood depot.