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New team for the time

The newly elected BusNSW executive will be tackling Sydney’s metro contract reforms in the face of a probable change in NSW government

By David Goeldner | March 2, 2011

The timing of February’s BusNSW committee elections has come just weeks out from a state election when Transport NSW’s ministry will likely change, presenting a challenging period for the bus and coach association’s new executive.

BusNSW Executive Director Darryl Mellish sees the timing of the election of new office bearers at the association as significant as the executive team moves forward into the state’s contract reform process.

“The contracts are worth over $5 billion, the first contract expires in January 2012 and the negotiations of new terms and conditions are at a very important stage,” Mellish says.

“The key issues of depot ownership and bus replacement are still unresolved.”

So too will be the basis of the new contracts, according to Mellish.

“There’s an issue of patronage risk, whether funding will be tied to patronage or is it only going to be a kilometre-based model – this issue is yet to be finalised,” he says.

Outgoing BusNSW President Stephen Rowe will retain chairmanship of the contract renewal committee, working with new association president Frank D’Apuzzo who will chair the finance committee.

“We are coming up to the metropolitan reforms and the role Stephen and Frank will play going forward in metro negotiations is a good combination,” Mellish says.

At the start of his four year term as BusNSW President, Frank D’Apuzzo agrees there will be significant challenges ahead.

“The unknown factor is who are we going to be dealing with after the NSW election, are we still going to be dealing with Les Wielinga and his team or will a new government decide to have different people,” D’Apuzzo says.

“Different people have different challenges, but the way I see it at the moment is that we are going in the right direction, but still there are hurdles in our way.”

He says priority matters relate to keeping the bus industry viable in NSW, such as the sharing of risk between government and industry and providing adequate return on investment.

“My support to Darryl Mellish is to give him what’s needed from the operators to achieve what is good for the industry,” D’Apuzzo says.

“Darryl is across all issues and I will support him.”

Mellish says an emerging issue for the executive to consider is the burden operators have recently faced in the wake of TransportNSW’s roll out of more Metrobus services across Sydney.

He says the rapid introduction of metro buses has been politically driven, and hasn’t accounted for the extra burden placed on operators to support more hours, kilometres and dead running.

“These impacts on operations have not been brought to account,” he says.

“The operators have done the right thing by introducing the services, but the claims they are raising for costs incurred are not being properly processed, and it’s a big issue.”

The newly elected 2011 BusNSW executive members are:

President: Frank D’Apuzzo, Buslines Group

Metropolitan Vice-President: Joe Calabro, Busabout

Country Vice-President: Steven Scott, Punchbowl Bus Company and PBC Goulburn

Country board members: Brett Allen and Paul Harmon

President and vice-presidents have been elected for four year terms, while board members have been elected for two year terms.

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