Australia, Bus Industry News

NSW government responds to Panel 4 manufacturer delay

Responding to calls from the NSW Nationals, the state’s transport minister has explained the delays behind certain procurement processes and provided an end date for the release of the Panel 4 list

The NSW government, courtesy of transport minister Jo Haylen, has reiterated that the bus procurement Panel 4 process isn’t delayed.

Following calls yesterday from the NSW Nationals that manufacturer Express Coach Builders is facing closing its doors due to the delay in release of the Panel 4 list, a spokesperson for Haylen has responded to questions from ABC about this reality.

In response, Haylen’s office says the release of Panel 4 isn’t delayed as Panel 3 is due to expire on March 19 this year.

“The process to finalise its replacement in Procurement Panel 4 will be completed by March 1,” Haylen’s spokesperson told ABC.

“Bus operators can and have continued to place orders for new buses under Procurement Panel 3 – there has been no direction to operators to delay new bus orders until Procurement Panel 4 is established.”

The spokesperson says Express Coaches has undertaken work for primary manufacturers on orders taken under Panel 3 after March 2023.

Now, Haylen says she has engaged with the department and the local MP of the area to ensure that Express, like other local manufacturers, is given an opportunity to be selected to undertake subcontracting work for new buses as part of Transport for NSW (TfNSW) bus panels.

“This has included meeting with the local member and to make sure that appropriate senior officials from Transport for NSW are engaging with Express Coach Builders when they have asked for information,” Haylen’s spokesperson says.

“The department advised that it had targeted to issue Bus Panel 4 Deeds – the first step to move to a new bus panel – to manufacturers prior to Christmas last year.

“It’s disappointing that it did not meet this target date. However, letters will be sent to manufacturers this week notifying them that the new bus panel be in place by March 1.”

As part of the procurement process in NSW, TfNSW provides a list of pre-approved prime manufacturers for buses and coaches who then engage subcontractors, such as Express, to assist in the delivery of new bus orders.

TfNSW says this process means it has no direct engagement with these subcontractors for “reasons of fairness” and can’t intervene in the procurement process.

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