NZ network tenders

First round of new tender system has Auckland bus operators vying for vital contracts

Bus services will soon be put out to tender for a new high-frequency network in South Auckland.

These will be the first tenders called under the new Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM), where bus operators compete for a group of routes rather than individual ones.

About half the region’s bus services will be contracted by competitive tender and the rest will be negotiated directly with current bus operators, under the new system.

Auckland Transport (AT) metro general manager Mark Lambert says the new network will run a number of high frequency services with a focus on easy connections, utilising a hub and spoke model.

"By having more frequent services operating every 15 minutes, 7am to 7pm, seven days a week, you can just turn up and go," he says.

"They will meet connecting services at transport interchanges - the spokes, the interchanges being the hubs."

South Auckland tenders open on August 17 and close on September 28, with winners named early next year and set to hit the streets by October next year.

The new model is a big change from the current part-contracted, part-deregulated system where bus companies receive fare revenues and direct subsidies.

The new bus network will compliment train services rather than duplicate them and connect strategically with all modes, so the whole public transport network works more harmoniously.

"This will maximise the efficiency of the new electric rail fleet and between buses and trains, provide more direct and frequent journeys for south Auckland and the rest of the region," Lambert says.

"Basically maximising income and minimising subsidies will come from increasing the levels of patronage by improving the experience through convenient, safe, fast, frequent and reliable services in quality vehicles."

AT is working with New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), which recently approved AT’s request for tender process that will be used to select bus operators.

NZTA regional manager planning and investment Peter Casey says the start of the tendering process for the new South Auckland network is important milestone.

"This is a tremendous step forward in implementing the PTOM in the Auckland region, and I’d like to acknowledge the efforts of AT and the bus industry in working towards this objective over a number of years," he says.

West Auckland contracts will go to tender later this year, with winners operating these runs by the end of next year.

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