Minister Allan Misleads the Public Once Again
In a recent television interview, Jacinta Allan appeared to link declining bus patronage with contracting frameworks.
‘Operators reject any suggestion that patronage decline on buses is because of the incumbent family business bus operators’ said Chris Lowe, Executive Director of Bus Association Victoria.
'Bus patronage always goes up and down in line with the price of oil. This is a macroeconomic truth which no Government can change’ said Dr Lowe.
‘There is no link between bus patronage and privately-owned bus assets’ Lowe said.
‘But there is a link between bus patronage and publicly owned bus assets. Since Transdev have been operating Government owned buses and depots, complaints to the Public Transport Ombudsman have increased four-fold, on-time running has gone through the floor and vehicle roadworthiness has deteriorated significantly’ Lowe said.
‘To grow patronage, Jacinta Allan needs give Melburnians a better reason to go without a car and that is by giving them bus services every 15 minutes, not every 45 minutes or every hour’ Lowe said.
‘Operators are contracted to do only what the state prescribes, so if there are no services or inadequate services, it's because the State Government won't fund more’ said Dr Lowe.
‘The Government also keeps on understating fare evasion. The Government reports fare evasion to be around 7%. We’ve irrefutable evidence that its actually around 35% (Dawson, Serafim & Lowe, 2017). If we count all those who use the bus as opposed to just those who pay, the bus is carrying a lot more than the figures PTV are touting’ Lowe said.
‘Poor service planning by the bureaucracy is another reason why patronage on buses may not be recording the same growth rates as rail. Operators have been delivering proposals to the Government for decades to change the route that some services take, to change timetables so busesmeet the trains, proposals that will increase patronage and customer satisfaction immediately, but the State always says no. Operators have even proposed to turn some dedicated timetabled services into on-demand services, and still the Government says no. Operators need more service planning control and marketing permission to attract more patrons, but the State have made it clear they don’t want this as part of this contracting regime’ Lowe said.
Bus Association Victoria Inc
ABN 17 273 025 656
450 Graham St, Port Melbourne Vic 3207 P.O. Box 125 Port Melbourne Vic 3207
Tel: 03 9645 3300 Fax: 03 9645 4455 www.busvic.asn.au
As part of the current metropolitan bus contract negotiations, the State Government is trying to force Melbourne’s family-owned bus operators to be contractually obliged to sell some, or all, of their assets, new and/or old to the Government or their nominee at the end of the new contract term.
Victoria’s second, third and fourth generation family business bus owners don’t want their business assets to be compulsorily acquired. The bus owners just want to keep using their own assets to continue providing the excellent community service they’ve been contracted to do for the last 60 to 100 years.
It is not in the interest of passengers or the public generally that they be forced to sell their assets to the Government or their nominee.
When Labor was in position, they promised that they would maintain the status quo if they were elected in 2014. Now they are breaking that promise.
‘The State Government should not be spending taxpayers’ money nationalising Victoria’s bus networks. They should be spending taxpayers’ money on increasing the frequency of bus services, particularly in the outer suburbs of Melbourne’ said Dr Lowe.
‘As part of these negotiations, bus operators have already offered substantial concessions to the Government, including being held to account on their operating performance such as on time running, early running, complaints, and quality of service. Further, the operators are prepared to move from exclusive to non-exclusive contracts to give the Government more procurement flexibility when deploying new services.
‘But operators will vigorously fight any attempts by Government to compulsory acquire parts of or all of their business assets to the Government’ Dr Lowe explained.
‘Jacinta Allan and Jeroen Weimar should stop misinforming the public, get their facts right on current bus contracting regime and take assets off the negotiation table’ said Lowe.
All enquiries to Chris Lowe, 0420 372248.