Since 30 January 2023, there have been changes to service levels for bus services across Sydney due to driver shortages. Despite the media narrative, these driver shortages have not lead to simple cuts to services. Instead, a complex web of changes have occured, which has left some routes with higher levels of service and others facing major cuts.
According to Transport for NSW, it is dealing with “an unprecedented bus driver shortage” and timetables have been reduced “rather than cancelling services ad hoc”.
Last month, a spokesperson for Transport for NSW noted that “We will continue to work with operators and scheduling experts to ensure timetable adjustments are as efficient as possible and are working towards reinstating suspended services as soon as possible.”
In response, Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW spokesman Peter Grech said the comments were “blatantly untrue”. “Since they privatised the buses they’re struggling to attract and retain enough drivers to do the job,” he said.
“As a result hundreds of trips are being cancelled on an ad hoc basis every day. The decision they’ve made to just cut thousands of trips permanently reflects the fact they simply can’t keep up with the quality service commuters deserve.”
These reduced timetables have primarily affected the operating areas covered by the former State Transit, Regions 6, 7 and 9. Services in these areas are now operated by Transit Systems, Busways and Transdev John Holland.
Whilst it is true that many services across these areas have been dropped from timetables, some routes have actually seen an increase in services since the ‘reduced’ timetables were introduced at the end of January.
In the Eastern Suburbs, Routes 313, 339, 350 and 374, connecting the areas around Clovelly and Coogee to Bondi Junction and Central stations, have all received increased levels of service.
In the AM Peak, Route 350 now operates every 5 minutes between Maroubra Junction and Bondi Junction, up from every 10 minutes previously. In the PM Peak, Route 313 now operates every 10 minutes in both directions, up from every 20 minutes previously. Route 339 now operates every 10 minutes in both directions, with inbound trips previously on a 20 minute frequency. Similarly, Route 374 now operates every 10 minutes in both directions, with inbound trips previously on a 20 minute frequency.
Over on the North Shore, Route 120 between North Willoughby and the CBD has received 20 extra trips each week. Meanwhile services on other major corridors, including Routes 115, 288, 292, 500X, 501, 533, 545 and 550 have all been slashed. Similarly in the Inner West, trips on major corridors such as Routes 438X and 440 on Parramatta Road have seen reductions.
Transport for NSW and the private services operators are both attempting to source more drivers to allow services to return to their normal levels. Busways has over 100 driver positions open across its Ryde and Willoughby Depots. Despite this, it is yet to be seen when there will be enough drivers to return to regular timetables.
Earlier this week it was announced that Transit Systems had been successful in gaining the contracts to operate Regions 2 and 15 in South-West Sydney. This follows on from the December announcements that Transit Systems would gain Region 13 alongside its Region 3 and 6 operations, and that new entrant U-Go would be the new operator in Regions 5 and 10 from later this year.
These announcements mark the end of the era of small family owned operators in Sydney. Interline in Region 2, Punchbowl Bus Company in Region 5 and Busabout in Region 15 have all been unsuccessful in retaining their contracts, which will see them exit the Sydney bus market.
Small family operators have been disappearing since the start of this century, both through buyouts from larger multinational companies and through loss of contracts under the current Sydney bus service contracting system, currently referred to as the Greater Sydney Bus Contracts (GSBCs). This new contracting model introduced as a result of the Unsworth review in the early 2000s, made it hard for smaller operators to compete with the larger players.
This leaves Busways as the last incumbent historical operator remaining in Sydney. However, with their successes in gaining former State Transit operating territory as well as major contracts interstate, they cannot be classed as a small family owned operator these days.
As a result of these new contracts, Transit Systems will become the largest bus operator in Metropolitan Sydney. Transit Systems will have more than 1,200 buses in operation carrying more than 50 million passengers a year across a network stretching from Bondi Junction in the East, Wollongong in the south, Kingswood in the West and Macquarie Park in the North.
It has been quite a wet spring this year in Sydney, but there have still been a few weekends where the sun has managed to break through the clouds.
It is no secret that the Orana is my favourite bus of all time. Due to their age they are usually relegated to peak hour operation only. However, due to operational reasons, both Leichhardt and Waverley depot have been using their Oranas on Sundays this spring.
I couldn’t miss an opportunity to get photos so enjoy my Sunny Spring Sundays – bus style!
Industrial Action on Monday 11 April 2022 will impact bus services across NSW. The Transport Workers Union and Rail Bus and Tram Union have advised Transit Systems, CDC NSW and Transdev that their members will be participating in a 24-hour stoppage of work onMonday 11 April from 12.01am.
Services operated by these operators will operate to a severely limited schedule or not at all. Significant disruption to travel patterns is expected and customers are being asked to consider other transport options. Easter show services will still operated through the affected areas, albeit at a reduced frequency.
The areas affected by the Industrial Action include;
Liverpool, Fairfield, Parramatta (Transit Systems Region 3)
Hills District (CDC Hillsbus Region 4)
Inner West, Some Sydney CBD, Olympic Park, Strathfield, Rockdale (Transit Systems Region 6)
Cronulla, Engadine, Sutherland, Menai (Transdev Region 10)
Hornsby, Gordon, Berowra (Transdev Region 12)
Lidcombe, Granville, Bankstown, Liverpool (Transdev 13)
At 00:01 on April 3 2022, the final contract held by the State Transit Authority of New South Wales was handed over to Transdev John Holland Buses, ending 89 years of Government run bus services in New South Wales.
The last trip operated by State Transit ahead of the handover was the 00:00 370 ex Coogee to Glebe Point, which was operated by Randwick Scania K310UB Custom Bus CB80 3026. The trip terminated at Glebe Point at 00:46, officially marking the end of State Transit operations in Sydney. Two preserved buses, ex 3037 (a Mercedes Benz 0405 PMC MkIV) and ex 3700 (a Scania L113CRL Ansair Orana) followed this last trip to mark the occasion. All three vehicles operated in a convoy together for the entire journey from Coogee to Glebe Point. The service bus was packed full of enthusiasts there to farewell State Transit with one last ride.
Although the 370 was the official last trip, after it terminated there were still drivers on the road who started their shifts as State Transit drivers, wearing State Transit uniforms and using State Transit journals. The honours of the last driver on the road in State Transit uniform went to the driver of the 28:38 (03:38 due to the end of daylight savings 350) ex Mascot Station to Bondi Junction, where it arrived at 29:18 (04:18 due to the end of daylight savings). Waverley Volvo B8RLE Volgren Optimus 2955 operated this historic last trip with a State Transit driver. Another bus, Waverley 3076, operated alongside 2955 but with one of the first Transdev John Holland drivers to sign on after the handover in a Transdev John Holland uniform with Transdev John Holland journal. The two buses operated together for the entire length of the 350, with 2955 leading and 3076 following, symbolising the handover from State Transit to Transdev John Holland.
By sunrise on April 3 2022, State Transit operations were history. The three final State Transit depots, at Port Botany, Randwick and Waverley, had all had their operations fully handed over to Transdev John Holland. Both last trips marked the end of an era for government bus operations in Sydney.
On Sunday 13 March 2022, the Sydney Bus Museum and the Historical Commercial Vehicle Association held a farewell tour for State Transit. This comes ahead of the handover of the final State Transit contract to Transdev John Holland on 2 April 2022. The 7 buses used on the day toured all over the Eastern Suburbs, home to the final State Transit contract.
The tour utilised 6 current State Transit vehicles; Mercedes Benz O500LE CB60 EvoII 1811 (Port Botany), Volvo B12BLEA Volgren CR228L 2236 (Port Botany), Custom Denning Element 3122 (Waverley) Volvo B10BLE Orana 3921 (Waverley) and Volvo B12BLE CB60 EvoIIs 4833 and 4999 (both Randwick). In addition, Sydney Bus Museum 3383, a Mercedes O405 MkVI (ex Randwick) also joined the service buses.
There were a number of photostops throughout the day. Here are a collection of photos taken on the day.
Rail services across NSW returned to a full schedule today, Monday 28 February. This comes just a week after the NSW Government spectacularly shut down the entire Sydney Trains network last monday, and also after months of COVID related timetable disruptions.
As of today, Sydney Trains will return to a full weekday timetable. This means that weekday Sydney Trains services will run every 3-4 minutes during peak times in the inner suburbs, with service frequencies of around 10 minutes for the rest of the metropolitan area. NSW TrainLink Intercity services, NSW TrainLink Regional XPT and Xplorer services are planned to run as timetabled.
Despite the move to increase services, industrial action by the Rail Tram and Bus Union continues this week. This brings to light the absurdity of the worker shutout conducted by the NSW Government last week. The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) had notified the government of its plans for industrial action on February 9. It was due to run for two weeks from Monday, February 21.
Come February 21, the decision was made by the NSW Government to shutdown the entire Sydney Trains network due to ‘safety concerns’ relating to the industrial action by the RTBU. Train drivers were shutout from their workplaces and the entire city ground to a halt. Initially, the government attempted to place the blame on drivers for a so called ‘snap strike’. It quickly became clear this characterisation was incorrect and that instead of a strike, it was the Government who had shut down the rail network.
Although the Premier and Transport Minister both maintain they were not aware of the impending collapse of the rail network, it is clear that senior bureaucrats were well aware of the shutdown ahead of time. As early as Wednesday February 16, some five days before the shutdown, bureaucrats across Transport and Treasury were aware of the plans. In fact, it was proposed that the shutdown last for the entire two week period of the RTBU’s actions.
That didn’t happen. Just a week later, instead of the network being closed, it is being ramped up. This raises serious questions as to the legitimacy of the safety concerns that led to the network being shutdown. Similarly, serious questions need to be asked why the Premier and Transport Minister were so unaware of major decisions being made on behalf of their government.
Instead of celebrating the return to a full timetable this week, alongside the return of International Travel last week, the Premier and Transport Minister need to look at where things went off the rails.
Services on the L1 Dulwich Hill Line of the Sydney Light Rail network will resume this Saturday 12 February 2022. Services will along the full length of the line between Central and Dulwich Hill, with buses continuing to supplement services on both the L1 and L2 lines.
L1 Dulwich Hill Lines services will run between Central (Grand Concourse) and Dulwich Hill. These services will operate every 15 minutes between 6am and 11pm. Rolling stock from the South East system will be used, as the withdrawn Inner West rolling stock is still not operable.
This service resumption comes more than 100 days after services on the L1 line were suspended in late October due to cracks found in the Inner West rolling stock. Repairs to these trams are ongoing, with the rolling stock expected to return to service later this year.
Due to the reduced frequency on all lines due to COVID related frequency reductions and the shortage of rolling stock for the replacement Inner West service, Light Rail replacement buses will continue to operate during peak periods.
Two routes will operate to supplement light rail services. Transport for NSW will operate a shuttle between Central and The Star, whilst UNSW will operate a shuttle between Central and UNSW High Street. These services will operate on a continuous loop, with services on weekdays between 7am and 9:30am and 3:30pm and 7pm.
Transport for NSW has confirmed that there will be a reduction in services as Sydney reaches record COVID-19 case numbers. These disruptions will affect both train and bus services.
From now until further notice, bus services operated by State Transit in the Eastern and Northern Suburbs and bus services operated by Busways in the North West and Western Suburbs will be operating to a reduced timetable. Services may be cancelled at short notice, but efforts will be made to at least operate to a Sunday base frequency across the network.
Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink Intercity and Regional train timetables across the State will be adjusted from Monday 10 January, with services adjusted to an enhanced weekend timetable. This will be similar to the dynamic timetable operated during August, with addition peak services to aid with social distancing.
The largest changes to the bus network in Sydney’s South Eastern Suburbs since the demise of the original Sydney tramway network were introduced today, 5 December 2021. As part of these changes (which you can view in full here), 24 routes have been discontinued. All 24 of those routes and an outline of their histories are featured in this article.
Route 300 – Kings Cross to Railway Square via Museum Station
Route 300 operated between Kings Cross and Railway Square via Museum Station in that direction only. It was an overnight service that only operated on Friday and Saturday nights. Route 300 was introduced on 31 December 2013. It has been replaced by short-working of Route 324.
Route 301 – Eastgardens to Redfern via Mascot
Route 301 operated between Redfern and Eastgardens via Zetland and Mascot. It was initially introduced as a weekday service between Rosebery and Eastgardens on 20 October 1987 after the opening of Westfield Eastgardens. On 5 August 1990, it was altered to operate from Circular Quay to Eastgardens via Rosebery. It was later curtailed to operate to Redfern instead of Circular Quay from 2 December 2018. It has been replaced by new Routes 306 and 350.
Route 302 – Eastgardens to Redfern via Kingsford
Route 302 operated between Redfern and Eastgardens via Zetland and Mascot. It was initially introduced as a supplementary route to Route 303, operating between Central Station and Dolls Point in March 1942. At various times in the 1950s and 1960s the service was extended to differing termini in Sandringham, Sans Souci and Caringbah, with some short workings diverting to Sydney Airport. As part of the Better Buses East changes of 23 June 2002, the service was modified to operate Circular Quay to Eastgardens, and later on 2 December 2018 to Redfern to Eastgardens. It has been replaced by Route 392.
Route 309X – Port Botany to Railway Square EXPRESS
Route 309X operated an express service between Railway Square and Port Botany. It commenced as Route X09 on 5 August 1990 as a peak hour express service between Circular Quay and Matraville. From 23 June 2002, it was curtailed to operate Martin Place to Banksmeadow and from 4 October 2002 it was curtailed to operate Railway Square to Banksmeadow. From 2 December 2018 Route X09 was renumbered as Route 309X and modified to operate Railway Square to Port Botany. It has been replaced by Route 309.
Route 310X – Banksmeadow to Railway Square EXPRESS
Route 310X operated an express service between Railway Square and Banksmeadow. It commenced as Route X10 on 23 June 2002 between Martin Place and Eastgardens. It was curtailed to operate Railway Square to Eastgardens on 4 October 2015. From 2 December 2018 Route X10 was renumbered as Route 310X and modified to operate Railway Square to Banksmeadow. It has been replaced by Route 310.
Route 314 – Coogee to Bondi Junction via Randwick Junction
Route 314 operated between Coogee and Bondi Junction via Randwick and Charing Cross. Route 314 commenced on 14 November 1954 as the replacement for the Coogee Beach to Waverley Depot tram service. It has been replaced by Routes 313, 356 and 390X
Route 316 – Eastgardens to Bondi Junction via Maroubra Junction
Route 316 operated between Eastgardens and Bondi Junction via Maroubra Junction and Randwick Junction. It commenced on 20 October 1987 after the opening of Westfield Eastgardens. Since 2019 selected services have extended to Pagewood. It has been replaced by Routes 356, 390X and 397.
Route 317 – Eastgardens to Bondi Junction via Maroubra Beach
Route 316 operated between Eastgardens and Bondi Junction via Maroubra Beach and Randwick Junction. It commenced on 23 June 2002 as part of the Better Buses East changes. Since 2019 selected services have extended to Pagewood. It has been replaced by Routes 375 and 390X
Route 338 – Clovelly to Railway Square via Moore Park
Route 338 operated between Clovelly and Railway Square via North Randwick and Moore Park. It commenced on 4 October 2015 as a peak hour short working of Route 339. It is being replaced by Route 339.
Route 353 – Eastgardens to Bondi Junction via Coogee
Route 353 operated between Eastgardens and Bondi Junction via Maroubra Beach and Coogee. It commenced on 9 January 2000 between North Bondi and Sydney Airport via Bondi Junction and Eastgardens. It was curtailed to operate between Eastgardens and Bondi Junction as part of the Better Buses East changes on 23 June 2002. It is being replaced by Route 350.
Route 357 – Mascot Station to Bondi Junction via Randwick Junction
Route 357 operated between Mascot Station and Bondi Junction via Kingsford and Randwick Junction. It commenced in 1952 as Route 367 between Sydenham and Bellevue Hill and was later renumbered 357 and curtailed to operate Sydenham to Bondi Junction in November 1986. It was amalgamated with Route 418 on 20 October 2013 to operate Burwood to Bondi Junction, before being spilt to operate as Route 357 between Mascot Station and Bondi Junction on 30 September 2018. It will be replaced by Routes 356 and 358.
Route 372 – Coogee to Railway Square via Cleveland Street
Route 372 operated between Coogee and Railway Square via Randwick Junction and Cleveland Street. It commenced on 24 October 2960 as a replacement for the Coogee Beach to Railway Square tram service. It has been replaced by Routes 373 and 374.
Route 376 – Maroubra Beach to Railway Square via Randwick Junction
Route 376 operated between Maroubra Beach and Railway Square via Randwick Junction and Moore Park. It commenced in November 1995 as Maroubra Beach to Circular Quay via Central. It was curtailed to operate Maroubra Beach to Railway Square from 4 October 2015. It has been replaced by Routes 339 and 375. 3
Route 377 – Maroubra Beach to Railway Square via Randwick Junction
Route 376 operated between Maroubra Beach and Circular Quay via Randwick Junction and Taylor Square. It commenced on 18 October 1987 between Eastgardens and Circular Quay via Maroubra Beach following the opening of Westfield Eastgardens. On 23 June 2002, it was curtailed to operate between Maroubra Beach and Circular Quay only. It is being replaced by Routes 373, 375 and 396.
Route 391 – La Perouse to Railway Square via Eastgardens
Route 391 operated between La Perouse and Railway Square via Eastgardens and Bunnerong Road. It commenced on 19 November 1995 as La Perouse to Circular Quay via Central. From 4 October 2015 it was curtailed to operate from La Perouse to Railway Square. It will be replaced by Routes 339, 392 and 396.
Route 393 – Little Bay to Railway Square via Cleveland Street
Route 393 operated between Little Bay and Railway Square via Anzac Parade and Cleveland Street. It commenced on 25 February 1961 replacing the La Perouse to Railway Square tram. It will be replaced by Routes 374, 390X and 396.
Route 394 – La Perouse to Circular Quay via Taylor Square
Route 394 operated between La Perouse and Circular Quay via Anzac Parade and Taylor Square. It commenced on 25 February 1961 replacing the La Perouse to Hunter Street tram. It is being replaced by Routes 390X and 396.
Route 395 – Maroubra Beach to Railway Square via Cleveland Street
Route 393 operated between Maroubra Beach and Railway Square via Anzac Parade and Cleveland Street. It commenced on 25 February 1961 replacing the Maroubra Beach to Railway Square tram. It will be replaced by Routes 374 and 396.
Route 400 – Bondi Junction to Sydney Airport LIMITED STOPS
Route 400 operated limited stops between Bondi Junction and Sydney Airport. It commenced on 17 July 1989 between Bondi Junction and Burwood with ‘Metroline’ branding. During the 1990s, selected weekend services extended to Bondi Beach. On 30 September 2018 Route 400 was split in two, with services between Eastgardens and Burwood operated by new Route 420 with the 400 curtailed to operate Bondi Junction to Eastgardens. It is being replaced by Routes 350 and 390X.
Route 400N – Bondi Junction to Eastgardens via Randwick Junction
Route 400N was a night time service between Bondi Junction and Eastgardens via Randwick. It commenced on 30 September 2018 as the night time short working of Route 400. It has been replaced by Routes 350 and 390X.
Route 420N – Burwood to Eastgardens via Rockdale
Route 420N was a night time service between Eastgardens and Burwood via Rockdale. It commenced on 30 September 2018 as the night time short working of Route 420. It has been replaced by Route 420.
Route L94 – La Perouse to Circular Quay LIMITED STOPS
Route L94 operated between La Perouse and Circular Quay via Anzac Parade and Taylor Square. It commenced on 5 August 1990 as the limited stops variant of Route 394. It is being replaced by Routes 390X and 396.
Route X40 – Clovelly to Museum Station EXPRESS
Route X40 was an express service between Clovelly and Liverpool Street. It commenced on 28 October 2012 to provide an express service from Clovelly via the Eastern Distributor. It is being replaced by Route 339X.
Route X93 – Little Bay to Railway Square EXPRESS
Route X93 was an express service between Little Bay and Railway Square. It commenced on 5 June 2016 to help direct traffic away from Anzac Parade due to light rail construction. It is being replaced by Route 394X.
Route X99 – Little Bay to Museum Station EXPRESS
Route X93 was an express service between Little Bay and Liverpool Street. It commenced on 23 June 2002 as part of the Better Buses East service changes. It is being replaced by Routes 394X and 399.
Although there are many other routes which have significant changes, and express routes are being renumbered from the X00 series to the 300X series, we have chosen just to focus on the routes we won’t see again in any form for the scope of this article.
Credit to Greg Travers’ book “City to Suburb” and Robert Henderson’s site “Sydney Bus Routes” for providing information for the article.