More buses, better information ranked top priorities in NSW

By: Jason Whittaker


Increased service frequency, improved passenger information and marketing of public transport services, integrated ticketing, integrated fares, and more bus priority

Increased service frequency, improved passenger information and marketing of public transport services, integrated ticketing, integrated fares, and more bus priority infrastructure and technology were voted the top priorities for New South Wales bus industry leaders.

Attendees at the BusNSW Leading Edge Seminar were asked to vote anonymously to compile a ranked wish list of public transport industry priorities.

The top priority – the roll-out of increased service frequency – was described by Metlink Chief Executive Bernie Carolan as "the most basic thing we need to do". Metlink acts as an umbrella marketing body for public transport services in Melbourne and greater Victoria.

A representative from the Victorian Ministry of Transport echoed Carolan’s statement.

"It’s great to put the information out there and market the services, but if the services aren’t out there to start with, people will try it once, think it’s all too hard, then go back to the car.

"If the services are there and you’ve got something to market, and you put an integrated ticketing system in, people are more likely to start using [public transport]."

Attendees voted marketing and service visibility as the second-to-top priority.

"You can have the best public transport system in the world, but if a passenger doesn’t know where they want to go, you’re only going to attract the habitual traveller," one operator says.

To back up the point, Professor Corinne Mulley from the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies spoke on her experiences as a newcomer to Sydney, and her difficulties negotiating the public transport network because of the lack of signage and information.

Speaking on his experience marketing public transport services to Victorians through Metlink, Carolan says the Metlink brand appears in parallel with other operator brands and products "almost all the time".

"I think that’s the way it has to be," he says. "The operators, big and small, have to continue to maintain their presence with their immediate customer, and their immediate community.

"That should be fostered – not eliminated – because there’s also an umbrella offering of some kind. I’m very in favour of the duel-branding, duel-marketing approach."

Metlink’s marketing spend is funded by the Victorian Government.

"We still see ourselves as independent of government because we receive that money on the basis of fee-for-service, if you like," Carolan says. "We expected to deliver services to justify the money that’s been given to us, as distinct to being a government department."

The introduction of integrated ticketing ranked third, the development of an integrated fare structure ranked fourth and investment in bus priority infrastructure and technology ranked fifth on the day.

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