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.

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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.

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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.

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?


Farewell Region 6 – The Buses

A massive part of any bus operation is the buses. Region 6 is home to 582 buses across its four depots.

From m/o 3426, a Scania L113TRB with Ansair Orana bodywork delivered in March 1993 to 2912ST, a Scania K310UB with Volgren “Optimus” bodywork delivered in April, the fleet is varied with a great diversity of buses. With Mercedes-Benz, Scania and Volvo chassis buses bodied by Ansair, Bustech, Custom Coaches and Volgren, the buses range from 12m to 15m in length alongside 18m long bendy buses.

So as part of our farewell to STA operation in Region 6, we have compiled a gallery of some pictures of buses from R6 in operation. All photos are from our personal collections except where noted.

m/o 3426 – Currently the oldest buses in the Region 6 fleet – Photo by Dean Jones
2833ST – The final bus to be transferred out of region 6 to another STA region
2112ST – The sole fully low floor bendy bus and one of the last bus to be transferred from another STA region to region 6 – Photo by Leon Sharpe







Farewell Region 6 – What Routes Are Being Privatised Anyway?


Transport for NSW and State Transit have this week finally revealed what routes are actually counted as Region 6 and therefore will be handed over to Transit Systems on July 1.

Due to the highly interconnected nature of the STA network, where many routes operated across multiple regions using buses from both regions, this was a complex task. All the routes assigned to either the remaining STA regions or TSA had to be able to be completed with the buses and staff already in that region. This has meant that some cross regional routes, reaching into areas outside of R6 will also be sold off, whilst other routes with large stretches inside R6 will be kept in STA hands.

The following list of routes will be operated by Transit Systems Australia (TSA) from July 1 2018

305, 308, 348 & 389.
401, 406, 407, 408, 412, 413, 415, 418, 422, 423, 425, 426, 428, 431, 433, 436, 438, 439, 440, 441, 442, 444, 445, 460, 461, 464, 466, 470, 473, 476, 477, 478, 479, 480, 483, 487, 490, 491, 492 & 493.
502, 504, 508, 526 & 530.
L23, L28, L37, L38 & L39.
X04, X25 & X26.
M10, M20, M30, M41 & M50.

The following routes currently operated by State Transit (STA) Region 6 have been reallocated to other STA regions and will continue to be operated by STA .

301, 303, 309, 343, 352, 355 & 370.
400, 410 & 458.
501, 506, 510 & 525.

Farewell Region 6 – Tempe Depot

Tempe Bus Depot is one of the four bus depots currently operated by STA in Region 6 that will be handed over to TSA on July 1st.

The site opened as a tram depot on 15 September 1912 . In 1954, the site was converted into a bus depot to service government bus services in the Southern Suburbs of Sydney. The new depot was needed to take pressure off Kingsgrove depot which was struggling with the large amount tram replacement work during the closure of the Sydney Tram Network.

After 38 years of service, the original Tempe bus depot closed in 1992 and services were reallocated to Kingsgrove and Port Botany Depots.  The site then became the Sydney Bus Museum until 2010, when the museum relocated to Leichhardt Tramsheds.

The bus depot reopened in late 2010 as a depot dedicated to operating articulated buses for the new Metrobus network. The use of Tempe depot as a dedicated Metrobus depot was later deemed to be inefficiency. This was because most of the Metrobus routes (with the expection of the southern terminus of routes M20 and M30) had their terminus tens of kilometres away from Tempe depot These inefficiencies led to the relocation of some Metrobus services to other depots including Leichhardt, North Sydney and Randwick in 2013. As part of this optimisation of services, some regular STA services commenced out of Tempe depot for the first time in over 20 years late in 2013.

The depot currently is home to 85 buses, a mixture between 18 metre articulated buses for Metrobus services and 12.5 rigid buses for regular STA services. They service the southern most routes in the STA network, with a major hub in Rockdale.

Farewell Region 6 – Kingsgrove Depot

Kingsgrove Bus Depot is one of the four bus depots in State Transit Region 6 that will be handed over to Transit Systems this July.

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Notice of the opening of Kingsgrove Depot

Kingsgrove depot opened on 22 February 1948 to take the pressure off the crowded Burwood depot. It initially began operating 12 routes with a fleet of around 50 buses. In most cases, these routes were located much closer to Kingsgrove then Burwood, allowing for reduced dead running and higher efficiency.

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Buses laying up at Kingsgrove depot

Since then it has grown to be home to 166 buses servicing dozens of inner west routes. It is one of two home depots for the Bondi to Burwood Metroline 400 routes and houses 15 dedicated high capacity buses just for this route.


Farewell Region 6 – Burwood Depot

Today as part of our series farewelling STA region 6 before it transfers to Transit Systems on July 1 we are looking at Burwood Depot.

Burwood Depot was the first depot to be government owned in Region 6, when it was purchased from the Metropolitan Omnibus Transport Company by the Department of Road Transport & Tramways to allow it to open up services in the Inner West. The initial bus repair cavities were located at Burwood depot until they were moved to Leichhardt in 1935.

The first service operated from Burwood depot o. 27 January 1933, Route 59 from Concord to City York Street. Dozens of routes started within the first few years of operation.

Today there are 104 buses in the fleet at Burwood depot, made up of Volvo B12BLE Euro 5 buses with CB60 Evo II bodywork and Volvo B10BLE with Orana bodywork.

Some major routes operated out of Burwood depot include the M41 and 461.

On the last Sunday of each month through to June 24 we will be doing another edition of Farewell Region 6. On July 1st which is the first day of the new operator, we will be on the scene with an update to the changeover.

Farewell Region 6 – Leichhardt Depot

As STA looks to farewell Region 6 from its network on July 1, we will be having a look at STA’s long history in the Inner West. Today we will start with the Leichhardt Depot.Image result for leichhardt bus depot

Leichhardt depot is on the site of the old Leichhardt tram depot, which opening on 22 June 1915. It was converted to a bus depot in 1937 and served as the central maintanence facility for Department of Road Transport & Tramways buses until 1958.

Leichhardt depot has remained one of the main government run bus depots. A major upgrade in 2008 improved maintenance facilities, bus storage and office space at the depot.

Today Leichhardt depot is home to 222 buses, making it the third largest STA depot. It services buses operating in Region 6 and a limited number of services in Region 7 and 9.

Prominent services operated by Leichhardt Depot include Metrobus routes M10 and M50, Routes 370, 438, 440, 504 and 530.

The Leichhardt depot also shares land with the Sydney Bus Museum, which is located in one of the old tram sheds.

Sydney Bus Privatisation – Region 6 Contract Awarded


One of the Transport Industries worst kept secrets was today confirmed by Transport Minister Andrew “Liar McLiarFace” Constance – Bus services in Region 6  have been award to Transit Systems Sydney.

Transit Systems will replace STA as the operator of Region 6 (Inner West) bus services on 1 July 2018. All Award staff will be offered jobs with Transit Systems with an 18-month employment guarantee.

During the announcement the Minister alluded to many possible improvements that could potentially be made by the new operator;

  • On Demand bus service in Burwood, Canada Bay and Concord areas.
  • 270 extra weekly services in 2018 on three routes
    • 423 Kingsgrove to City Martin Place via Newtown
    • 461 Burwood to City Domain via Parramatta Road
    • 504 Chiswick to City Domain via Victoria Road
  • 4.8 million extra service kilometres by 2021
  • Electric buses introduced to fleet

The RBTU has refuted claims that the new operator will deliver better services, instead claiming that there will be less services and less stops along routes.