NSW BUDGET '10-11: Details sought on new bus funding

NSW bus industry welcomes announcement of $145 million for 200 new ‘growth’ buses in State Budget

NSW BUDGET '10-11: Details sought on new bus funding
<font color=red>NSW BUDGET ’10-11:</font> Details sought on new bus funding

By David Goeldner | June 8, 2010

The NSW bus industry has welcomed the announcement of $145 million for 200 new ‘growth’ buses in today’s State Budget.

Specifically, the Budget allocates $77.6 million for the purchase of 100 ‘bendy’ buses for the State Transit fleet, $49.3 million for the replacement of 87 older State Transit buses, and $51.6 million for the purchase of 119 replacement buses for private operators in Sydney metropolitan and outer metropolitan areas.

These buses are in addition to the 300 new ‘Growth Buses’ announced in late 2008, all of which will be put into service by the end of June.

But BusNSW Executive Director Darryl Mellish says it’s not clear who will operate the new buses, or where they will go.

"It’s important these additional buses are allocated where they can do the most good," he says.

Mellish says the 300 growth buses allocated 18 months ago have been a success so far.

"I am not surprised the Government has allocated another 200 because you can get them out quickly and provide value to the community," he says.

But consultation this time around has been slow.

"In the previous allocation, operators were asked for submissions before the announcement, but it’s not clear whether this was done with the new 200," Mellish says.

"The Government might already know where these buses will go, but we would like to have some consultation."

The total spend on bus transport and related infrastructure from the 2010-11 NSW budget tops $1.1 billion, a new record.

The cash splash is part of the Keneally Government’s $7 billion allocated to fix the State’s public transport sector, also a record amount.

Recently appointed transport Minister John Robertson says $77.6 million will be spent on 100 new ‘bendy’ buses and a further $100.9 million on 206 buses to replace outdated vehicles in STA and private operator bus fleets.

This is in addition to the $145 million for the new growth buses.

"This Budget will deliver more buses, more train carriages and more safe, comfortable and air-conditioned seats across the (NSW) public transport network," he says.

Robertson says the Government’s spend of $1.1 billion forms part of the 10-year $50.2 million Metropolitan Transport Plan.

The Minister says a key part of this plan is to improve links between different transport modes, including new transport interchanges.

"That’s why we are improving public transport infrastructure by upgrading train stations, delivering new transport interchanges and building new commuter car parks across Sydney, the Illawarra, the Central Coast and the Hunter," he says.

Also promised is $10 million towards installation of CCTV and duress alarms on private buses.

In a statement Robertson points to bus builders Custom Coaches and Volgren as likely beneficiaries from new funding.

"The construction of extra buses and trains is creating hundreds of construction jobs in NSW in places like the Custom Coaches bus plant in Villawood and the Volgren bus factory and United Group plant in the Hunter," the Minister says.

Additionally, the Budget allocates $31 million for the upgrade and construction of new transport interchanges in Sydney’s inner west and south to the Sutherland Shire; and $49.5 million to develop an electronic ticketing system for all public transport operators in the Greater Sydney region.

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