Budget leaves bus sector in limbo

The Queensland Budget has failed to specify the future of a stalled contract reform process

Budget leaves bus sector in limbo
Budget leaves bus sector in limbo
By Sean Muir |
June 5, 2013

The ‘no-frills’ Queensland Budget contains big promises for public transport infrastructure, but there is still no word on the state’s stalled bus contract reform.

Bus, ferry, coach and air services across Queensland are set to benefit from $645 million allocated to them in the 2013-2014 Queensland Budget, released June 4.

But the Budget does not indicate the direction of Queensland’s bus contract reform process, which stalled following the Queensland Commission of Audit's final report, released publicly on April 30.

Queensland Bus Industry Council (QBIC) Executive Director David Tape says he had hoped the Budget would contain information about the future of Queensland’s bus contracts.

"I was hoping that the State Budget might be the impetus that the minister would use to make an announcement about the way we are going to look at procuring bus contracts in Queensland," Tape says.

Tape says before the Commission of Audit’s report, Queensland had been engaged in a contract reform process with the State Government and Translink for more than a year.

But he says the industry is now in limbo.

"We are hoping that we will go back to a negotiated process rather than an open tender, but we will just need to wait and see on that one," Tape says.

"Basically, we believe the process we were in, prior to the Commission of Audit report coming out, will deliver what the government is seeking.

On a more positive note, Tape says, overall the Budget allocates about $30 million more than the amount allocated last year.

"We’ve had a lot of reports that it is quite a no-frills budget and everything else, but in a nutshell this is probably the first Budget for this government that is looking at integrating the whole of Queensland since the changes to Translink at the start of the year," Tape says.

"It is good to see that the treasurer has acknowledged the fact that a well-resourced and organised public transport system will aid in the productivity of our state."

But Tape says more money should have been allocated to disability access, as many bus stops and are not compliant with disability standards.

About $2 million is pledged in the Budget to improve disability access across the network.

"The only one there that concerns me a little bit – given that compliance with disability accessibility standards in getting reasonably close – is that there is only $2 million put into the access across the network for improvements," Tape says.

"It probably needs a little bit more money."

Highlights of the Budget include a program to double the number of senior network officers on the network in south east Queensland to target fare evasion.

The state will receive $22.6 million to continue to upgrade school the bus fleet across Queensland, and there will be $2.3 million spent on the installation of flashing lights at school zones.

About $38.6 million has also been set aside for concession travel and about $51 million has also been allocated for infrastructure to improve interchanges and access to public transport.

Key infrastructure projects to be delivered include:

  • $2 million to improve disability access across the network
  • $8 million for redevelopment of the Browns Plains bus station
  • $10 million for new bus stations at Redland Bay Marina and Victoria Point Jetty
  • $5 million for construction of a new bus station at Deception Bay
  • $3 million toward constructing a new bus station in Cairns CBD
  • $2 million for capacity improvements at Carindale and Toombul bus stops.

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