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Tender list queried

Just two of five bus companies making it to Victoria’s bus franchise shortlist are 'local', giving rise to BusVic angst

By David Goeldner | September 3, 2012

Victoria could be heading towards a repeat of 2003 by shortlisting overseas companies to run the upcoming Melbourne bus franchise, according to Bus Association of Victoria Executive Director Chris Lowe.

Public Transport Victoria named late last month National Bus Company, First Transit of Australia, Keolis Downer Rail, Transit Systems and Veolia Transport as making the shortlist.

National Bus Company, part of the Ventura Group, and Transit Systems are
the only ‘local’
companies on the shortlist.

“We’ve seen non local operators awarded major bus contracts in Victoria before and they’ve failed,” Lowe says.

“The withdrawal of National Express from Victoria in 2003 showed what happens when companies aggressively bid for local contracts, so we hope Victoria doesn’t make the same mistake twice.”

Lowe says in terms of capability, there’s nothing an international operator can do that a local bus operator can’t do.

“Local knowledge can’t be bought over the term of a seven year franchise, it is learned over generations,” he says.

“Victoria’s local family bus businesses have a long term, trans-generational orientation which yields less opportunism.”

Lowe says BusVic hopes the Victorian Government keeps local business acumen front of mind as it makes its way through the procurement project.

To add weight to BusVic’s call for a local company to run the franchise, the association recently commissioned a report prepared by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research on ‘Melbourne Route Bus Contracts: The impact of change from local to non-local ownership’.

The report highlights the withdrawal of National Express’s relinquishment of its National Bus contract in 2003.

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