Shift in focus

Shift in focus
annual report

The change in NSW’s tendering process has led bus operators to become more focused on reaching targets instead of customer service.

One of the changes in the NSW bus industry for the year was introducing the competitive tendering process, according to Transport for NSW Annual Report 2012-13.

Acting Director General Tony Braxton-Smith says, in his overview, the organisation has begun taking action to produce the integrated transport system essential for the economic and social development.

"After a competitive tendering process, four new metropolitan bus contracts were awarded to implement higher standards of customer service and deliver significant operational savings," he says.

The organisation is also in the process of rolling out the electronic ticketing system, Opal.

"The integrated electronic ticketing system, Opal, will significantly improve customer convenience," says Braxton-Smith.

BusNSW Executive Director Darryl Mellish says the tendering process has meant operators have become focused on avoiding the penalties associated with the new contracts.

"The government consider the penalty regime gives the best customer outcome, however early indications are that tendering and new KPIs are not directly delivering improved customer experiences, but this needs to be monitored over time," he says.

"The general feeling is that the pressure to reduce costs will see a lower level of investment in facilities while trying to change systems to cope with the increased reporting and resources needed to track running times.

"In some cases, individual services running on time is becoming more important than connectivity and frequency which has a greater impact on the customer."

Mellish says the Opal rollout is going well, although there are some teething problems which are being addressed.

"Operators are looking forward to full roll out to reduce cash on buses, reduce loading times and improve reliability," he says.

"We are hopeful that there will be wide uptake and would like to see further work on integrated fares and progress towards simplifying school student travel."

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