Australia, Bus Industry News, QBIC

‘Measured support’ – QBIC breaks down Queensland budget for bus industry

QBIC’s Jason O’Dwyer breaks down the positives and “significant disappointments” in the Queensland budget for the bus industry

The Queensland Bus Industry Council (QBIC) has responded to the Queensland state budget for 2024-25, expressing “measured support” for the announcements made.

While acknowledging some positive aspects of the budget, QBIC executive director Jason O’Dwyer has also raised concerns about several key issues.

Key features revealed in the budget include the six-month 50 cent fare trial for Translink trips, estimated to cost $150 million, an AirTrain Brisbane Airport discount of 50 per cent and $134.2 million over two years allocated to procure 200 buses from local manufacturers for rail replacement services.

On top of this, $84.5 million will be provided over five years to fund the replacement of school buses, with $69.5 million over four years to increase bus services and infrastructure in Ipswich and Logan while a $1.1 million school bus ticketing pilot will be extended until June next year.

In terms of the positives, O’Dwyer told ABC the school bus upgrade program and Ipswich and Logan announcements are a positive step.

“This funding is overdue and essential for reducing congestion and increasing patronage in the west and south of Brisbane,” O’Dwyer told ABC.

While QBIC recognises the positive aspects of the TMR budget, he says there are “significant areas” needing attention and clarity.

Starting with the zero-emissions bus program, O’Dwyer says the government stated its commitment to replacing current diesel buses in the Translink public transport fleet with zero-emissions buses.

“However, despite a prior announcement of 400 zero-emission buses, the budget lacks specific allocations and timelines,” he says.

“The proposal to use a special purpose vehicle to finance the new fleet and depots remains vague, with no detailed information provided.”

O’Dwyer also highlighted significant disappointments within the budget.

“The allocation of only $1.1 million to the School Bus Ticketing Program is a letdown and downgrading it to a trial raises fears of its potential abandonment,” O’Dwyer says.

He also pointed out the slow pace of the School Bus Upgrade Program, noting that only $2.9 million of the $11.747 million allocated for 2023/24 has been spent.

The program has forward estimates showing increasing allocations of $18 million, $24 million and $29 million between July 2025 and June 2028, but he says the immediate impact remains limited with only $9 million allocated for 2024-25.

Another critical issue highlighted by QBIC is the disparity in wages between Translink drivers and school service-based drivers, with the latter potentially facing a $10 per hour difference.

“It’s disappointing that school bus driver wages have not been prioritised,” he says.

“QBIC will continue to address this issue with the government and the Department of Transport.”

O’Dwyer says that QBIC remains committed to working with the state government to ensure the bus and coach industry’s concerns are addressed and that the allocated funds are effectively utilised to benefit the broader community.

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