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BusNSW welcomes “major improvements” set to come from second Taskforce report

BusNSW says the second Taskforce report outlines a clear approach to fix issues in the state’s bus network

BusNSW says significant strides are expected to arrive when it comes to enhancing the state’s bus services following the release last week of the NSW Bus Industry Taskforce’s second report.

The report, hailed as a landmark development by the NSW government, promises the most substantial improvements to bus services in a generation.

With work underway to address the issues and recommendations included in the First Report and Safety Report, BusNSW executive director Matt Threlkeld says BusNSW is pleased to see the release of the Second Report.

The report, which is more than 200 pages long, encompasses 27 key recommendations aimed at addressing critical aspects of bus service provision in the state.

“The report includes immediate actions to rectify underinvestment in school and local bus services, the establishment of a vision for rapid bus services and measures to address challenges concerning workforce training and availability among bus drivers and operational staff,” Threlkeld says.

“In the early stages of the Taskforce’s research, it became apparent that the NSW government’s spend on bus services was not commensurate with the heavy lifting that is being done by the industry when it comes to public transport mode share.

“It was found that while buses accounted for approximately 44 per cent of public transport patronage, the operating and maintaining costs of bus services only accounted for approximately 15 per cent of government’s public transport expenditure.

“The Taskforce’s 40:80:1000 vision is a 40-year plan that would see rapid services go from three to 40, frequent services from 17 to 80, and local services and improvements from 600 to 1000.”

Threlkeld says the current priority is to secure funding for short term improvements, including $909m for strategic capital costs and $277m for operational and project costs.

“It’s important to note that the short-term plan proposes bus service improvements for communities across regional and outer metropolitan areas, in addition to Greater Sydney,” he says.

BusNSW says the report underscores the importance of robust asset and risk management within Transport for NSW, alongside a pragmatic plan for the widespread adoption of zero-emission buses.

It also advocates for a review of the Bus Operator Accreditation Scheme (BOAS), proposing for a risk-based approach to improve safety outcomes.

“For nearly two decades, BOAS has served passengers and the community well in ensuring that bus services are safe, though it is timely to examine the scheme with an emphasis on continuous improvement,” Threlkeld says.

“Overall, the second report reflects a collaborative effort to identify opportunities for the NSW bus industry and pave the way for a more efficient and sustainable future.

“BusNSW will brief members on the second report during the upcoming March regional seminars.”

Looking ahead, the Taskforce is set to deliver its final report and recommendations to the NSW government by May 1.

“The final report will focus on topics including governance, safety, passenger experience, workforce training and rural and regional contracts as part of a comprehensive approach to transforming the bus industry landscape in NSW,” Threlkeld says.

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