New NSW transport minister

BusNSW welcomes new NSW transport minister Andrew Constance

New South Wales is welcoming new Transport Minister Andrew Constance particularly as bus contracts are due to be finalised.

The State Election was held on March 28, 2015 with Liberal Party’s Mike Baird re-elected as Premier.

Former Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian will be bumped up to Treasurer while Constance is to take up the transport portfolio.

BusNSW executive director Darryl Mellish is looking forward to getting the outstanding bus contacts finalised now the NSW Government is out of caretaker mode.

Mellish says Bus NSW is looking forward to working with new transport and infrastructure minister Andrew Constance.

"BusNSW welcomes Andrew Constance and supports the allocation of Infrastructure to his portfolio," Mellish says.

"There is an opportunity to build on the current projects and with the franchising of some wires and poles should give further scope for investing in increasing bus and coach services and reducing congestion."

His strong background in finance should put him in good stead for the transport role.

"With Andrew’s finance and treasury experience and his knowledge of the importance of bus services in regional areas - such as Bega - BusNSW understands he will welcome industry engagement and ensure any new contract settings are appropriate for the community.

"We have invited him to speak at its upcoming Member Conference being held in Coogee next week, to kick off his engagement with the private bus industry.  

"I am sure the Minister is aware buses hold the mantle as the largest public transport mode share by trip in the Sydney GMA at 6 per cent, compared to trains at 5.4 per cent, and taxis and other modes at 2.2 per cent.

"The private bus industry is very keen to work with Andrew Constance, building on the government’s achievements over the last four years.

"I have been in the minister’s Bega office with a local bus operator and was impressed by his commitment to transport services and understanding of the need to reduce red tape."

Mellish also wants to thank outgoing transport minister Gladys Berijiklian and welcome the new minister Andrew Constance.

"It is hard to argue that Gladys Berijiklian has not achieved a lot in transport over the last four years with reforms to government departments, improved transport plans and activating progress on new transport infrastructure," he says.

He spoke of Berijiklian’s openness, as she oversaw some large-scale reforms.

"From a bus industry perspective, she was always approachable and willing with her time," Mellish says.

"When she came to office in 2011 (based on discussions before the 2011 election) the industry expected that operators would have security of tenure in the knowledge that, if they continued to meet performance indicators, they would have contracts renewed.

"These traditional performance indicators were deemed not enough and a stricter and more competitive process was put in place.

"This changed to a competitive tendering regime for metro contracts and short term negotiated contracts for outer metropolitan operators," Mellish says.

"So the last four years has seen the biggest changes to operator security for decades and it will take some years to see if the increased competition model for Sydney bus systems will deliver the outcomes sought."

Mellish says that this situation had brought some challenges to families that had been in the industry for decades.

"Certainly those long term family businesses that lost contracts, largely because of their size don’t receive comfort from the expected outcomes of the model that moves away from industry partnership and negotiated performance based contracts," Mellish says.

"The minister made changes to her department introducing six deputy DG’s under a transport cluster secretary and this model is yet to return to the industry engagement the minister expects, following the completion of the difficult reforms.

"Rural and regional operators were reassured by the minister’s announcement last November postponing roll out of new contracts to allow proper transparent consultation and are looking forward to the new minister and the department to follow through on this."

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