Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) government has received expressions of interest from five private sector groups to maintain and run Sydney Ferries, the state-owned ferry operator, the government has announced in a statement.
“This is great news,” commented Gladys Berejiklian, NSW transport minister. “The respondents include a range of local and international public transport operators with experience in delivering services both in Australia and overseas,” she added.
The five prospective bidders include a consortium of Transfield Services Australia and Veolia Transport Australia – know as Harbour City Ferries – as well as a team of John Holland, Souter Investments and Manly Fast Ferry – the so-called HarbourConnect group. The other three interested parties are all Australian and include ferry operator SeaLink Travel Group, services firm Serco Australia and a team of transport operator Transit Systems and Forgacs Engineering.
“The NSW government will now review the submissions to determine a short-list that will be invited to participate in a tender process later in the year,” Berejiklian said. The transport minister explained that the government will “retain control of fares and routes and the franchise contract will include staff and safety obligations”. It will also retain ownership of the ferries and accompanying shipyard, which will be leased to the private sector.
Previously, the NSW government had indicated that it expects to have a new private sector operator in place by the end of 2012.