Sydney bus services to be privatised

The NSW government intends to retain ownership of the Inner West buses while keeping control of fares and timetables.

The New South Wales government will auction off the bus services of Sydney’s Inner West district in a bid to ensure a more reliable transit, it announced yesterday.

The Bus Region 6 services cover more than 230 bus routes spanning suburban areas that stretch from the city’s west to Strathfield and Olympic Park. 

NSW Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance said Inner West services had attracted the highest number of complaints out of Sydney’s metropolitan area in recent years, a result of their very poor punctuality performance. 

The service is currently run by the State Transit Authority, which Constance said still lags a long way behind its industry competitors in measures like on-time running and reliability. The state-owned STA also runs services in three other regions across the city. 

The tender will begin in July and is expected to be completed within 12 months. 

The bus depots and buses will all remain owned by the state, while bus fares will still be set by the government’s Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal and timetables outlined by the Transport department. The new operations contract will come with scope for new routes and customer services such as wireless internet. 

“Introducing competition into the worst part of the STA network is hardly a radical step, [and] it’s just the same as Sydney’s Ferries and 80 percent of bus services across the Sydney basin,” said Brendon Lyon, chief executive of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia. 

“The Victorian Labor government is refranchising Melbourne’s entire public railway and public tram system to private operators, because it’s a better model for commuters and better for the budget.”