Federal Budget misses the bus

While the 2017-18 Australian Budget does little to directly fund bus related projects, a funding commitment to major rail initiatives will help the industry indirectly

Federal Budget misses the bus
The 2017-18 Australian Budget is out, but there are few gifts for the bus industry in the mix


Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) executive director Michael Apps says that there will be definite flow-on effects to increase bus services, in order to service the budgeted $500 million spend on boosting Victorian passenger rail services.

"It is a clear indication of Federal Government concern about future population growth and congestion and meeting the transport challenges this will impose on our cities and growing regions," he says.

"The reality of this is that more bus services are going to be required in the future to service major trunk rail routes and service suburbs, towns and villages where rail is not an option. "This would indicate that BRT and bus priority will be a clear option for areas not serviced by rail moving forward.

"Infrastructure investment in regional passenger transport in Victoria is an interesting announcement.

"Over $500 million for Victorian passenger rail, which includes $100 million for the Geelong line upgrade.

"Announcements prior to the Budget mentioned the funding of coach service where rail did not exist or to connect to rail links in Victoria."

Apps says that it would seem that the door is now slightly ajar for further regional passenger transport funding for other states and territories.

"It would seem very difficult to purely fund regional passenger rail and coach services in Victoria, when so many country rail stations have been closed or services reduced, without similar funding to support coach services for these communities in other states and territories."

BIC has already held discussions this year with Fiona Nash, Minister for Regional Development and Darren Chester Minister for Infrastructure in regard to a National regional passenger transport plan.

Another point of interest in the budget is the commitment by the Federal Government to continue the NHVR heavy vehicle safety initiative funding from $3,852 million in 2016 to $3,976 million in 2021.

This money will be available for BIC and state associations annually to make applications to the NHVR for bus-related safety initiatives.

In terms of taxation and regulation; the Federal Government has restated its commitment to a 25 per cent company tax rate for all businesses.

The instant asset write-off has been extended for amounts up to $20,000 for a further 12 months to June 30, 2018 for businesses with an annual turnover of less than $10 million.

This comes at a cost to the budget of $950 million in 2017-18, and a cost over four years of $650 million.

New infrastructure commitments

  • $10 billion over 10 years for the National rail program
  • Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail – work to commence in 2017-18 – the provision of an additional $8.4 billion equity investment to the Australian Rail Track Corporation
  • $5.3 billion in equity to develop Western Sydney airport
  • $1.6 billion to WA towards a $2.3 billion road and rail package including Metronet

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