While the 2017-18 Aus­tralian Bud­get does lit­tle to di­rectly fund bus-re­lated pro­jects, new rail ini­tia­tives will help in­di­rectly

While the 2017-18 Aus­tralian Bud­get does lit­tle to di­rectly fund bus-re­lated pro­jects, new rail ini­tia­tives will help in­di­rectly

ABC (Australia) - - CONTENTS - WORDS RAN­DALL JOHN­STON

Bus In­dus­try Con­fed­er­a­tion ( BIC) ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Michael Apps says that will be def­i­nite flow- on ef­fects in­creas­ing bus ser­vices in or­der to ser­vice the bud­geted $ 500 mil­lion spend on boosting Vic­to­rian pas­sen­ger rail ser­vices.

“It is a clear in­di­ca­tion of Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment con­cern about fu­ture pop­u­la­tion growth and con­ges­tion and meet­ing the trans­port chal­lenges this will im­pose on our cities and grow­ing re­gions,” he says.

“The re­al­ity of this is that more bus ser­vices are go­ing to be re­quired in the fu­ture to ser­vice ma­jor trunk rail routes and ser­vice sub­urbs and towns where rail is not an op­tion.

“This would in­di­cate that BRT and bus pri­or­ity will be a clear op­tion for ar­eas not ser­viced by rail mov­ing for­ward.

“In­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment in re­gional pas­sen­ger trans­port in Vic­to­ria is an in­ter­est­ing an­nounce­ment – over $ 500 mil­lion for Vic­to­rian pas­sen­ger rail, which in­cludes $100 mil­lion for the Gee­long line up­grade,” he adds.

“An­nounce­ments prior to the bud­get men­tioned the fund­ing of coach ser­vices where rail did not ex­ist or to con­nect to rail links in Vic­to­ria.”

Apps says that it would seem the door is now slightly ajar for fur­ther re­gional pas­sen­ger trans­port fund­ing for other states and ter­ri­to­ries.

“It would seem very dif­fi­cult to purely fund re­gional pas­sen­ger rail and coach ser­vices in Vic­to­ria, when so many coun­try rail sta­tions have been closed or ser­vices re­duced, with­out sim­i­lar fund­ing to sup­port coach ser­vices for th­ese com­mu­ni­ties in other states and ter­ri­to­ries,” he says.

The BIC has al­ready held dis­cus­sions this year with Min­is­ter for Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Fiona Nash as well as Min­is­ter for In­fra­struc­ture Dar­ren Ch­ester in re­gard to the for­mu­la­tion of a na­tional re­gional pas­sen­ger trans­port plan.

Bus ser­vices are go­ing to be re­quired in the fu­ture to ser­vice ma­jor trunk rail routes and ... sub­urbs and towns where rail is not an op­tion

An­other point of in­ter­est in the bud­get is the com­mit­ment by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to con­tinue the NHVR heavy ve­hi­cle safety ini­tia­tive fund­ing from $3.852 mil­lion in 2016 to $3.976 mil­lion in 2021.

This money will be avail­able for BIC and state as­so­ci­a­tions an­nu­ally to make ap­pli­ca­tions to the NHVR for bus-re­lated safety ini­tia­tives.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has also re­stated its com­mit­ment to a 25 per cent com­pany tax rate for all busi­nesses.

The in­stant as­set write-off has been ex­tended for amounts up to $20,000 for a fur­ther 12 months to June 30, 2018 for busi­nesses with an an­nual turnover of less than $10 mil­lion.

This comes at a cost to the bud­get of $950 mil­lion in 2017-18, and a cost over four years of $650 mil­lion.

Be­low: Bus In­dus­try Con­fed­er­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Michael Apps

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