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.”
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.
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.