Victorian operators set for increased payments

Victorian Government expects to increase payments to private bus operators by more than 15 percent in the coming financial year

May 7, 2010

The Victorian Government expects to increase payments to private bus operators by more than 15 percent in the coming financial year as part of a $5.2 billion investment in public transport outlined in the 2010-11 State Budget.

Budget papers show payments to metropolitan bus operators are projected to rise by 16.3 percent to $542 million, up from an expected $466 million in 2009-10 and $436 million in 2008-09.

Rural and regional operators are forecast to receive $106 million, a 9.2 percent increase on the $97 million expected this financial year and the $90 million allocated in 2008-09.

The higher anticipated payments are based on strong forecast growth in passenger numbers and kilometres travelled next financial year.

Patronage on metropolitan bus services is predicted to increase by 3.5 percent to 105.5 million in 2010-11, after falling 2.85 percent short of the 2009-10 forecast; while kilometres travelled are projected to grow by almost 7 percent to 108 million after missing the previous year’s target by some 3.5 percent.

On rural and remote services patronage is budgeted to rise marginally to 13.5 million, up from 13.4 million this financial year; and kilometres travelled are also expected to remain stable at around 18.9 million.

Public Transport Minister Martin Pakula adds that the rollout of the popular SmartBus network is continuing, with the Red Orbital SmartBus between Altona and Mordialloc in operation and the Green Orbital between Chelsea and Airport West complete.

Budget papers reveal that services on the Yellow Orbital SmartBus between Ringwood and Melbourne Airport are scheduled to commence in the third quarter of 2010-11; while construction works on bus stop upgrades and bus-priority measures on the Doncaster Area Rapid Transit (DART) system are scheduled for completion in the second and fourth quarter of the new financial year respectively.

"Melbourne's bus network now carries more than 100 million passengers a year and we are delivering major improvements to improve the frequency of services and for longer operating hours," he says.

Victoria’s rail and tram systems are also set for major new investment in 2010-11, Pakula says.

Twenty new staffed "premium" train stations, a fleet of 50 new low-floor trams and four new stations in Melbourne’s growth areas are all part of the Government’s investment in the public transport network.

In addition, train operator Metro will staff another 22 stations during the morning peak.

"We know that Victorians are concerned about safety on public transport, that’s why the Brumby Labor Government is investing $83.7 million for 20 new ‘premium’ stations staffed from first train to last, seven days a week," he says.

"It’s why we brought forward 50 new transit police for the network and why we’re giving the Chief Commissioner capacity to further boost transit police numbers with the Brumby Labor Government’s $673.6 million commitment to increase frontline police by 1,966 officers."

Pakula says the 2010 Budget also locks in the Government’s $807.6 million investment in 50 new low-floor trams and a new tram maintenance and storage depot at Preston.

"When the fleet is fully rolled out, these trams will be capable of carrying around 10,000 people at any one time," he says.

"The 2010 State Budget allows the Brumby Labor Government to complete an order for the tram fleet before the end of the year, with the first of the 50 trams to enter service in 2012/13."

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