As con­tract re­newals fast ap­proach, the 2017 TasBus an­nual con­fer­ence was packed with op­er­a­tors seek­ing the lat­est in­for­ma­tion on how they will be af­fected in the short term

As con­tract re­newals fast ap­proach, the 2017 TasBus an­nual con­fer­ence was packed with op­er­a­tors seek­ing the lat­est in­for­ma­tion on how they will be af­fected

ABC (Australia) - - CONTENTS - WORDS & IM­AGES RAN­DALL JOHN­STON

Apub­lic trans­port net­work that pro­vides better ac­cess to em­ploy­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and ser­vices is in the works for Tas­ma­nia. So are Tas­ma­nian Govern­ment con­tract re­newals and the shape and form of these was a hot topic at the TasBus con­fer­ence.

The Tas­ma­nian De­part­ment of State Growth (DSG) has been un­der­tak­ing con­sul­ta­tion with bus op­er­a­tors, key stake­holder groups and coun­cils on pos­si­ble changes to the gen­eral ac­cess pub­lic trans­port net­work. As part of the con­sul­ta­tions, some coun­cils have identied in­ter­ested com­mu­nity groups who they have asked the de­part­ment to talk to. Over the com­ing months, the de­part­ment will be con­sul­tat­ing with those com­mu­nity groups identied by coun­cils.

Ex­ist­ing con­tracts for pub­lic trans­port bus ser­vices, in­clud­ing stu­dent-only ser­vices, be­gin ex­pir­ing in early 2018. Con­tracts can run for a max­i­mum of 10 years, which places a leg­isla­tive im­ped­i­ment to these con­tracts sim­ply be­ing re­newed or ex­tended.

A de­tailed re­view of all cur­rent ser­vices and ser­vice op­ti­mi­sa­tion is un­der­way to en­sure that the most efcient and cost­ef­fec­tive net­works are pro­cured and op­por­tu­ni­ties for efcien­cies identied.

The net­work re­view, called Project 18, will de­liver the govern­ment’s pol­icy ob­jec­tive to pro­vide a fur­ther ve-plusve-year con­tract for in­cum­bent op­er­a­tors, pro­vid­ing key per­for­mance con­di­tions are met and there is an on­go­ing need for a par­tic­u­lar ser­vice in a par­tic­u­lar area.

It will also pro­vide a con­sis­tent mea­sure of per­for­mance across all bus con­tracts, greater in­cen­tives for op­er­a­tors to per­form, and, im­por­tantly, better long-term ser­vice de­liv­ery for Tas­ma­nian bus pas­sen­gers.

There are about 150 in­di­vid­ual bus op­er­a­tors who col­lec­tively hold 468 con­tracts for pub­lic trans­port bus ser­vices in the state, with all of these bus con­tracts reach­ing their 10-year ex­piry be­tween Fe­bru­ary 2018 and Novem­ber 2019.

The ma­jor­ity of ru­ral stu­dent-only bus ser­vices ex­pire be­tween Fe­bru­ary and August 2018. The ma­jor­ity of other bus ser­vices ex­pire be­tween October 2018 and June 2019.

TASBUS STATE RE­LA­TIONS

Tas­ma­nian Min­is­ter for In­fra­struc­ture Rene Hid­ding says the govern­ment is now mov­ing to an op­er­a­tor model of a sin­gle con­tract per bus.

“So you will have one stan­dard con­tract that cov­ers all of your ser­vices,” he says.

“It will re­duce ad­min time for op­er­a­tors and the de­part­ment.”

School bus op­er­a­tors were fac­ing con­tract re­newal half­way through the school year, but Hid­ding was quick to re­as­sure them that this would not be the case.

“On the ba­sis that chang­ing ser­vices half­way through a school year would be ex­tremely dis­rup­tive, the govern­ment has de­cided that in­terim con­tracts will be of­fered to op­er­a­tors that have school bus con­tracts ex­pir­ing dur­ing the 2018 school year,” Hid­ding says. “That will ef­fec­tively ex­tend their ser­vices out to the end of the 2018 school year. This is an ex­tra six to 11 months for most ru­ral school bus op­er­a­tors in Tas­ma­nia.”

DSG Project 2018 di­rec­tor John Daw­son spoke on four top­ics, pro­vid­ing an up­date on school bus con­tracts and gen­eral bus op­er­a­tor con­tacts, an ex­pla­na­tion of the early exit in­cen­tive scheme, and fund­ing.

On school bus con­tracts, Daw­son says he has met with about half of all school prin­ci­pals in Tas­ma­nia to gain an un­der­stand­ing of the ser­vices that they re­quire. On gen­eral bus op­er­a­tor con­tracts, he says that the new con­tracts have been rewrit­ten from scratch in or­der to fa­cil­i­tate the move from nine dif­fer­ent bus op­er­a­tor con­tract types into just the one.

“Hav­ing said that, a lot of the same terms and con­di­tions will still be in there,” Daw­son says. “We will be pro­vid­ing TasBus with a draft ver­sion of this new con­tact and giv­ing them the op­por­tu­nity to give feed­back on it.”

An ex­pla­na­tion of the early exit in­cen­tive scheme was also given. Op­er­a­tors can be com­pen­sated for a short pe­riod (likely to be six months) in some in­stances where their con­tract to op­er­ate a ser­vice may be dis­con­tin­ued – sub­ject to other con­di­tions.

In terms of fund­ing, Daw­son says that Tas­ma­nia’s cur­rent top-up fund­ing model ( based on the num­ber of pas­sen­gers per

ser­vice and the dis­tance they travel), will be over­hauled in the long term. This is be­cause, in very ba­sic terms, the govern­ment wants to re­move the in­cen­tive for school bus op­er­a­tors to travel for the long­est dis­tances pos­si­ble, jour­neys for which they get paid more.

TasBus ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ge­off Lewis says he is pleased to have a seat at the ta­ble on Project 2018 and that the Tas­ma­nian Govern­ment is will­ing to work so closely with the bus in­dus­try. He also spoke about what TasBus has been work­ing on this year, in­clud­ing stream­lin­ing the sig­nage re­quire­ments for school bus op­er­a­tors and li­ais­ing closely with the Tas­ma­nian Govern­ment on key trans­port ini­tia­tives – such as look­ing at Bus Rapid Tran­sit as an op­tion for Hobart to name a few projects.

There was ac­tion too out­side the con­fer­ence, as Aus­tralia’s rst lowoor Sca­nia bus had been lov­ingly re­stored by the Tas­ma­nian Bus and Coach So­ci­ety with fund­ing from the Tas­ma­nian Com­mu­nity Fund and Sca­nia, and was on dis­play out the front of the TasBus con­fer­ence venue in Hobart.

The TasBus 2017 an­nual award win­ner was Kim­bra Wells. Del­e­gates who at­tended the TasBus din­ner helped to raise more than $15,000 for Can­Teen, a char­ity that as­sists young people who are or who have bat­tled cancer, and their fam­i­lies.

This page (L-R): TasBus 2017 an­nual award win­ner Kim­bra Wells; Aus­tralia’s first low-floor Sca­nia bus lov­ingly re­stored by the Tas­ma­nian Bus and Coach So­ci­ety

Op­po­site page:

The 2017 TasBus an­nual con­fer­ence was well at­tended

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