Bus operators on ferry list

Noted bus operators Transit Systems and Veolia have made it to the final list of three to bid for Sydney’s ferries

Bus operators on ferry list
Bus operators on ferry list

By David Goeldner | October 11, 2011

The privatisation of Sydney’s harbour ferries services is drawing closer with NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian’s recent announcement of the final three contenders.

Under consideration to run Sydney’s ferry services is the Transfield Services and Veolia Transdev consortium ‘Harbour City Ferries, along with urban and regional bus operator Transit Systems, as well as immigration detention centre contractor Serco.

During the launch of Transit Systems successful LNG ferry contract tender in Queensland recently, Director Graham Leishman was confident of his company’s chances in securing the Sydney Ferries operation.

"I don’t know how successful we’ll be with Sydney Ferries, there are some very good operators trying to get in there too, but we’ll give it a shot," he says.

Already operating 900 buses mainly in Perth and Adelaide, Transit Systems has escalated its ferry transport involvement through securing a large contract with Bechtel to operate ferry services out of Gladstone.

With Transit Systems’ ferries under construction or contracted through acquisition taking ferry fleet size to 30, Leishman’s company will be of similar size to Sydney Ferries by 2012, at the time of the final decision on the winning bid for Sydney’s harbour fleet.

Transit Systems’ entry into the ‘big league’ of passenger ferry transport has been possible through the group’s bus experience, and in particular, its government-contracted service experience.

"Other ferry operators don’t have the compliance experience we have by working with governments," Leishman says.

"So government contract experience with buses has definitely helped us with our ferry contract tenders."

Berejiklian says the tender process for Sydney Ferries will ensure customers see improved services delivered by the best possible operator while at the same time offering taxpayers value for money.

"Tender documents will be released to the shortlisted parties this month, allowing them to prepare detailed proposals demonstrating why they should be selected to operate Sydney Ferries under the franchise model developed by the Government," Berejiklian says.

"The ability of tenderers to improve the overall customer experience will be a key consideration, in line with the emphasis on customer service we are implementing across the public transport network."

The parties will have until early 2012 to submit their responses, with the successful operator to be in place by the end of next year.

Responses will be evaluated against criteria including safety, operational and maintenance capability as well as cost to Government.

Berejiklian says under the franchise model, the NSW Government will retain ownership of Sydney Ferries’ existing vessels and the Balmain Shipyard, and will retain full control over fares and service levels.

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