Uncertainty for QLD operators

By: Amie Hickland

Queensland operators want answers around their future as contracts due to go to market

Uncertainty around contracts is one of the major issues facing the Queensland bus industry in the near future, which will be one of the main focuses at the next association conference.

The Queensland Bus Industry Council (QBIC) annual Conference, AGM and Gala Awards Dinner will be held in Cairns next April.

The MAN Golf Day will be held in conjunction with the event but will be a separate function with separate registrations forms.

In October 2015, south-east Queensland bus contracts will go to market although the industry is still uncertain as to what this process will involve.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads has completed the market sounding process which is to be reviewed by the State Government.

The current contracts expired in June this year but have continued on a 15 month variation period.

Executive Director David Tape expects the process to continue well into next year, due to some uncertainty around the date of the next State Election.

He says the association has tried to get a timeline and details around the process to no avail.

"We do not have answers to any of our questions," he says.

"We don’t know how many operators they want, but we do know they want them reduced."

Tape says there is concern among operators about the State Governments direction and the undervaluing of the contribution and services provided by local bus operators to their communities.

"What is the projected saving the Government is trying to achieve and could this not be achieved through another form of contestability, contestability through benchmarking operators," he says.

The delay in information is also causing headaches for operators who are now unable to forward-plan for the business.

"Once the state announced they were going to go to open market tender, the commercial value of bus businesses in Queensland became zero," says Tape.

"Why would you continue to invest in a business if you don’t know if you’re going to have it in 15 months’ time?

"It’s basically put the bus industry in Queensland in a holding pattern."

While QBIC hopes to be able to provide members with some certainty at the conference, Tape says there will still be other informative sessions – such as industrial relations.

He expects about 200 delegates to attend the annual conference.

The QBIC conference will be held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Cairns, on April 10 and 11 and registrations will be available on the QBIC website soon.

Registrations are due to close March 20, 2015.

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