TransLink in talks with QBIC over service rationalisation

By: Jason Whittaker

The Queensland Bus Industry Council (QBIC) is about to enter into discussions with the Queensland Government over the future of

The Queensland Bus Industry Council (QBIC) is about to enter into discussions with the Queensland Government over the future of TransLink-funded public transport services.

The talks are set to commence next week amid speculation of significant cuts to government funding for private operators that provide services under the TransLink scheme.

QBIC President Graham Davis says it’s "far too early to say how it will impact TransLink service providers".

But he adds: "You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that times are tough. But what we want to do is work out what sort of framework we can collaboratively work with government in making sure that public transport doesn’t lose out."

The Queensland Government is seeking strategies to plug a $14 billion hole in government revenue. On June 2 Premier Anna Bligh announced the state would sell a number of lucrative state-owned assets to meet the budget shortfall.

Davis says no growth or a reduction in the level of public services being provided to Queensland would be "an incredible backward step".

"Because the area is still growing, public transport must still play a vital role, because standing still is in fact going backwards," he says.

"We’re going to have conversations with TransLink and we’re going to explore what the options are."

Speculation over TransLink funding follows last week's announcement by Transport Minister Rachel Nolan that the Southern Cross Transit public transport service running from Brisbane to Mt Crosby will not be funded by the government.

Southern Cross Transit has sought access to funding for the service – called CityLink – under TransLink since it commenced its first service in December 2007.

After investing more than $100,000 in the service, Southern Cross Transit finished up the CityLink run on Friday, June 26, 2009.

Nolan says the CityLink service between Ipswich and Indooroopilly, via Karalee and Karana Downs, does not meet the population density criteria to make it eligible for funding.

"For public transport services to provide value for money and to operate cost effectively, they must service medium to high-density areas, which is not the case for the CityLink service," she says.

Member for Moggill Dr Bruce Flegg says 10,000 people in the Mt Crosby, Anstead, Karana Downs and Karalee areas are now unable to access public transport, save for a Maxi Taxi service running to the city.

"The Brisbane City Council is running a personalised public transport service from Mt Crosby to Bellbowrie, between 400-600 passengers a week, in maxi-taxis," says Flegg. "It’s the busiest service they’ve ever run.

"It’s a very inefficient highly expensive way to service a community that ought to have a large bus service."

According to Southern Cross Transit figures, CityLink has carried in excess of 7000 passengers.

The service compares well to TransLink’s own patronage figures in urban fringe areas, such as Samford Valley (3290 residents), Amberley-Rosewood (2139 residents) and the trial Hinterland Connect Bus Service that serves a population of only 3218 people, Southern Cross Transit says in a statement.

"Hopefully, somewhere down the track, not to far down we hope, the government will revisit the issue of providing funding, no matter how small it is, for public transport to these fast growing communities," it says.

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