Vic bus contract overhaul

Contracts that run Melbourne’s bus network will be overhauled this year and the current terms will be renegotiated, the Victorian Government announced

Vic bus contract overhaul
The Victorian Government aims to start phasing out exclusive bus contracts over the next decade

"The government has written to operators confirming they will negotiate the renewal of their service contracts, so no tendering,"Bus Association Victoria executive director Dr Chris Lowe says.

"We welcome this, as this has been the custom for decades.  Negotiation is a much more effective method of procurement than tendering. 

He says that historical declining bus patronage is a result of a myki ticketing system that still doesn't work properly; poor service planning by state government and the price of oil. 

"We reject any implication or assertion by anyone that declining patronage is because of the Melbourne's 12 private bus operators. The reason why we have the public transport network we do is because it's all controlled by the state government.  Operators are contracted to do what the state prescribes and operators need more planning control and flexibility to attract more patrons."

Lowe says that operators have been making submissions to successive governments with innovative solutions for decades and these are always hit on the head.  "Harnessing the power of local knowledge with transport service delivery is something that needs to occur in this next contracting regime if we're going to have more demand responsive services."

"BusVic and its members very much looks forward to starting the negotiation to engineer a win-win; having a contract that achieves both the government and the operators' objectives."

Meanwhile, the Victorian Govenrment has put out a statement saying it does intent to start phasing out exclusive bus contracts over the next decade, a process that it claims will pave the way for better services.

To support both big and small operators through the transition to non-exclusive contracts, operators will be able to choose between short and long-term agreements that best suit the needs of their business.

Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan says the state government will negotiate new contracts with 12 metropolitan bus operators which together run 70 per cent of Melbourne’s bus network.

"The reality is our bus contracts are old and out-of-date, and aren’t delivering the services passengers need," she says.

"Through these negotiations we will modernise, expand and upgrade Melbourne’s extensive bus network, so it works better for the thousands of passengers who rely on it every day.

"It’s the next step in our comprehensive overhaul of our public transport system – which includes the Metro Tunnel, 50 level crossing removals and more than 100 new trains and trams for Victoria."

More than 120 million trips are taken on Melbourne’s extensive bus network every year, which supports more than 3,500 local jobs, but the number of people using Melbourne’s buses has been in decline since mid-2014.

The current contract arrangements have been dubbed "old and inflexible", and in some cases are not meeting the changing needs of passengers, according to the Victorian Government.

Melbourne’s train and tram contracts are also being renegotiated and an overhaul of Victoria’s taxi and hire car industry, to regulate rideshare and deliver more responsive services, is also underway.

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources will manage the bus contract negotiations on behalf of the Victorian Government.

The remaining 30 per cent of the bus network is operated by Transdev, through an ongoing contract signed in August 2013.

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