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New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 2020)

Sydney / New South Wales Transport Discussion

Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby moa999 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:52 pm

Union sticker campaign in full swing on multiple bus poles in the east - sticker authorised by Unions NSW though the website is RTBU

https://twitter.com/adamnorthphoto/stat ... 38016?s=19

The usual claims
- Fewer stops
- Late buses
- Longer journey times
- More congestion
- Service cuts

Unlike previous campaigns - not pushing fare increases, but still a funny list given the contract terms
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby Campbelltown busboy » Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:22 pm

This happens everytime the government sells something off or franchise sections of the transport network witch is what's happening here with Unions NSW the RTBU and the government over the STA held contracts I would hate to see to see what the RTBU's reaction would be if the government ever thinks of making plans to privatise the operations of Sydney Trains and NSW Trainlink
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby Merc1107 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:27 pm

As far as I'm concerned that sounds like they are vandalising/defacing stop infrastructure, and that is VERY inappropriate.
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby J_Busworth » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:02 am

The sticker campaign is quite effective at getting the message across. Its not really intruding on any information, as the stickers have typically been placed over a blank surface.

In terms of the claims they are making, I'd say they are pretty fair claims. Every single one of their claims is based on the experiences in the Inner West and Newcastle. Price rises didn't occur either of those times so they have stopped making that claim. In Newcastle and the Inner West, every single one of Fewer stops, Late buses, Longer journey times, More congestion and Service cuts have actually happened to an extent after privatisation. Whether or not there is causation or solely correlation these things have actually happened. The unions aren't stupid, they know they can't make false claims and as such all of their claims are based on facts.

I'm sure you could speak to any of the Newcastle or Inner West MPs or Union reps to get an understanding of what could happen. The entire network in Newcastle was redrawn after privatisation and school buses in particular have been severely affected up there. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the campaign, don't write off the claims as laughable just because they come from the union or are not your personal experience.
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby moa999 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:23 am

But let's look at the claims

Contracted items
- Fewer stops
- Less service
The private operator doesn't control the stopping pattern or number of services. That's TfNSW - whether it's STA or a franchise

Traffic issues
- More Congestion
- Longer journey times
Absurd to say traffic can be caused by having a private operator. General traffic grows year on year

Performance
- Late buses
Well quite possibly they is simply due to traffic, but the difference here is late buses = penalties for the franchise which is likely to focus their attention pretty quick.

Now I agree with your point on Newcastle in one way. The introduction of the private operator was timed with the opening of the light rail and new routes that turned some former direct services into requiring transfers - so there is an unfortunate conflation of issues.

Much like Sydney Region 6, would have been better if the operator change was done separately to any timetable changes.
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby matthewg » Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:03 pm

moa999 wrote:But let's look at the claims

Contracted items
- Fewer stops
- Less service
The private operator doesn't control the stopping pattern or number of services. That's TfNSW - whether it's STA or a franchise

Traffic issues
- More Congestion
- Longer journey times
Absurd to say traffic can be caused by having a private operator. General traffic grows year on year

Performance
- Late buses
Well quite possibly they is simply due to traffic, but the difference here is late buses = penalties for the franchise which is likely to focus their attention pretty quick.


This may very well be, but I distinctly remember the transport minister using all of the above as justification for the contracting out of the services. If it's good for one side to make these claims, you can't object to the other side refuting them.

And there is very little 'scope' for fining the operator - they will either claim force majeure and not pay the fine or walk out of the contract. And they probably have better lawyers than TfNSW does.


All it really does is give the Transport Minister and TfNSW a plausible 'not our fault' excuse when it goes pear-shaped.
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby Merc1107 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:15 pm

J_Busworth wrote:In Newcastle and the Inner West, every single one of Fewer stops, Late buses, Longer journey times, More congestion and Service cuts have actually happened to an extent after privatisation. Whether or not there is causation or solely correlation these things have actually happened. The unions aren't stupid, they know they can't make false claims and as such all of their claims are based on facts.
As we know, though, the franchising model sees operators paid on a per-kilometre basis (among a few other things, I think? Not sure), and fined for failing to meet specific standards in presentation, on-time performance (there are exemptions for extreme circumstances), maintenance etc. All of this, of course, requires the overseeing body actively enforces the standards. That's how it is on the other side of the country, and it definitely shows.

Anyway, on the basis an operator is paid per-kilometre for services, why on Earth would they choose to simply cut services without redeploying those resources elsewhere in their operational area? That reduces their profits (less service kilometres), affects their costings and the number of vehicles they require.

In relation to the other points:
Reducing bus stops is good initiative to save time when they're only 150m apart; seriously, does one need that many stops in such a short distance? In terms of longer journeys, are operators timetabling more realistic journey times to improve on-time reliability? Claiming more congestion is simply ridiculous, are they seriously implying people will morally object to a private operator running their bus service and choose to drive instead?

If the claims being made were more truthful, for instance, how the working conditions of drivers might deteriorate under a private operator, then I'd have nothing to argue. Instead the campaigning amounts to nothing more than someone throwing a tantrum.

J_Busworth wrote:The sticker campaign is quite effective at getting the message across. Its not really intruding on any information, as the stickers have typically been placed over a blank surface.
I don't care where they put it. It is still vandalism. Does the same apply to graffiti when it's not blocking any important information?
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby tonyp » Tue Dec 03, 2019 4:04 pm

Government buses have a strong enthusiast following on the east coast and RTBU is a powerful union. Was there such grief when MTT services went private? I believe MTT wasn't a bad operator but the present operations are imho a stunning vindication of the benefits of operational contracting to the private sector. All that TfNSW needs to do is get it as right as PTA does.
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby rogf24 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 6:41 pm

I hate how people just blame just about everything on increasing congestion, except the fact we have too many cars in our city (you know the real cause).

Privately buses is a new one. For goodness sake. Anytime someone attributes congestion to something except cars (like density or a new shopping centre or whatever), I ignore them and the rest of their argument too because it's bound to be crazy.

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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby Bjwh86 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:31 pm

Very misleading "sticker" poster.

Noone is "selling the buses".

There is no "privatising" the buses but only "franchising to private contractors".

If they are going to run a campaign against franchising the operations then they could atleast make it factual!

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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby Campbelltown busboy » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:24 pm

Bjwh86 wrote:Very misleading "sticker" poster.

Noone is "selling the buses".

There is no "privatising" the buses but only "franchising to private contractors".

If they are going to run a campaign against franchising the operations then they could atleast make it factual!

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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby Merc1107 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:58 pm

tonyp wrote:Was there such grief when MTT services went private? I believe MTT wasn't a bad operator but the present operations are imho a stunning vindication of the benefits of operational contracting to the private sector. All that TfNSW needs to do is get it as right as PTA does.
I cannot comment as to the transition from Metrobus (i.e. the Government entity created to compete with the privates) to what we have presently, as I wasn't there, but I doubt it was without significant opposition. What I do know, both from rather old threads here and the odd Government papers and announcements from that time was the Private Operators brought with them innovative ideas that saw services rationalised and improved, resulting in rather significant gains to patronage in some instances. Although it begs the question, "why didn't Metrobus (or the MTT previously) think of/implement similar changes?"
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby In Transit » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:19 pm

tonyp wrote:Government buses have a strong enthusiast following on the east coast and RTBU is a powerful union. Was there such grief when MTT services went private? I believe MTT wasn't a bad operator but the present operations are imho a stunning vindication of the benefits of operational contracting to the private sector. All that TfNSW needs to do is get it as right as PTA does.


Yes, there was the obligatory song and dance when buses (and ferries!) were privatised in Perth, but as always it went away after a while. These things usually do.

In a sense the debate over contracting out misses the point entirely. The single most important determinant in how well a city provides public transport is the government agency that controls it - no matter whether they operate it or contract out the operation. The private operator is far less important - a good government agency avoids, manages and improves a poor operator, but the very best private operator can’t do anything if the government agency (and contracting structure) is poor. Get the government agency, its policies, funding, staffing and technical/commercial/political approach right - and the operator will follow. Hence the irrelevancy to the public of the RTBU’s campaign - all the matters raised are ultimately TfNSW’s responsibility, not the operator.

There could be hours of discussion about the reasons for differing perceptions of the PTA and TfNSW, but just consider two for a start:

1. The PTA is really the modern day policy and planning successor to the MTT. Perth had the benefit of a single, integrated government agency responsible for all aspects of policy, planning and actually operating public transport across all modes (with some operational overlap with Westrail), and that organisation being split into two in preparation for contracting out operations. Consequently Perth has had a steady evolution of its PT network and management over the last 50 years, and I’d argue its been a pretty continuous development over that time. The PTA has that history in its DNA, culturally and in the people working in it - shown in the long term consistency of its approach to multiple issues. The private operators benefit from that too, having been originally mainly staffed by MTT alumni, who were used to the Transperth way.

The genesis of this advantage of the PTA lies in the decision in the late 1950s to bring all private bus operators into one government operator, and the later decision to progressively integrate that bus agency with the rail network (eg Perth has had integrated ticketing for as long as I’ve been buying tickets - and that’s quite a while!).

TfNSW on the other hand is just another twist in a long and complicated fractured PT network, with multiple government and private players. There is no common ancestry/culture/experience/competency that both TfNSW and bus operators can link back to, and they are still learning and making it up as they go along.

2. The PTA has one responsibility - public transport. This hasn’t alway been the case, but Transperth was separated from the Dept of Transport after a few years to enable that sole focus. TfNSW meanwhile is a massive department, with broad responsibilities and more than enough internal stakeholders to block agile progress. Public transport is but one of the many games in play - all competing for funds, attention and competing outcomes. Bringing RMS inside the tent might help integrate planning and give a louder voice to public transport... but it might just have the opposite effect. History favours RMS’ focus on road users over PT.
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby In Transit » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:39 pm

Merc1107 wrote:
tonyp wrote:Was there such grief when MTT services went private? I believe MTT wasn't a bad operator but the present operations are imho a stunning vindication of the benefits of operational contracting to the private sector. All that TfNSW needs to do is get it as right as PTA does.
I cannot comment as to the transition from Metrobus (i.e. the Government entity created to compete with the privates) to what we have presently, as I wasn't there, but I doubt it was without significant opposition. What I do know, both from rather old threads here and the odd Government papers and announcements from that time was the Private Operators brought with them innovative ideas that saw services rationalised and improved, resulting in rather significant gains to patronage in some instances. Although it begs the question, "why didn't Metrobus (or the MTT previously) think of/implement similar changes?"


Three reasons:
1. Yes, the operators did bring some successful service planning approaches (I wouldn’t say innovative, in fact the MTT had already been innovative in its own way but the new service designs were simply good practice) - but only two of the then four private operators did this in the early days, and in both cases it was due to individuals in those companies who were in the right place at the right time. Sometimes some new blood can go a long way in looking at networks differently. The other two private operators at the time did far less in terms of service planning - some might say they did very little at all. I should say that the PTA’s predecessor (the Transperth division in DoT) was very open and supportive to the new service designs, and it reflected their preferences too.

2. Privatisation saved a significant amount of money, not least due to drivers being paid significantly less than they previously were by MetroBus (it took the mining boom a few years later to correct this). Not buying new fleet for a few years probably helped too. Partially no doubt for good policy reasons, but also no doubt for political ones in ensuring that contracting was successful, some of this money was available for service enhancements. The two operators referred to above made good use of this. Previously, the MTT/Metrobus had laboured under severe restrictions on service expansion, and generally any new services to expanding suburbs could only be funded by robbing services elsewhere.

3. Under the contracts, operators in Perth were (and still are today) only paid for in service km. Dead running (and layover time) is at the operator’s cost. Therefore the contracts gave operators a strong incentive to improve their efficiency in this regard, as any improvements went straight to their bottom line - and note that in Perth union agreements restricted efficiencies for MetroBus in reducing layover time (shades of STA....) which no longer applied to the privates. This compares to NSW, where operators are paid for all km and hours operated, including both dead running and in service - consequently there is far less incentive for continuous improvement in those efficiencies except when initially bidding. There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, but it certainly had an impact in the early days of contracting in Perth.

Plenty of lessons from the past to be learnt here....
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby tonyp » Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:09 pm

NSW has also had a history of nearly 50 years of at least attempting to bring urban transit under one umbrella. That started with the PTC in the 1965-1976 Liberal government and I remember well how Milton Morrus said that when he came to office he found two agencies that didn't talk to each other (NSWGR and DGT) running the city's transit with almost no Ministry coordinated oversight. Unfortunately, unlike WA, the subsequent decades saw the apple cart being overturned and reinvented several times. It's true that the outcome is only as good as the agency and that's been a struggle but it's getting better.

It would help if the whole show wasn't weighed down by political and professional prejudices like the long opposition to trams and one size fits all philosophies (and the associated damaging opposition to any any type of bus other than a 12 metre rigid) and so on.
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby Stu » Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:40 am

J_Busworth wrote:The sticker campaign is quite effective at getting the message across. Its not really intruding on any information, as the stickers have typically been placed over a blank surface.

In terms of the claims they are making, I'd say they are pretty fair claims. Every single one of their claims is based on the experiences in the Inner West and Newcastle. Price rises didn't occur either of those times so they have stopped making that claim. In Newcastle and the Inner West, every single one of Fewer stops, Late buses, Longer journey times, More congestion and Service cuts have actually happened to an extent after privatisation. Whether or not there is causation or solely correlation these things have actually happened. The unions aren't stupid, they know they can't make false claims and as such all of their claims are based on facts.

I'm sure you could speak to any of the Newcastle or Inner West MPs or Union reps to get an understanding of what could happen. The entire network in Newcastle was redrawn after privatisation and school buses in particular have been severely affected up there. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the campaign, don't write off the claims as laughable just because they come from the union or are not your personal experience.



Regarding the claim of 'fewer stops'. This claim is not a fair claim is is not accurate as it did not happen after privatisation as it has been mentioned in the above quote.

Here are the facts:
- TfNSW & RMS Bus Priority Infrastructure Program.
Commenced in 2014 in Region 6 during the tenure of STA and embedded with the 'Kingsgrove Depot on time running project'. The areas affected were between Railway Sq. & Tempe via Newtown & St. Peter's and Railway Sq. & Marrickville (Enmore Park) via Newtown & Enmore.

- BPIP is currently ongoing and also affects regions that have been in 'private' hands since long before the current region based contract system was put in place by Labor.
The RTBU was very supportive of BPIP as it would assist with a faster journey and driver down assaults (verbal & physical) from frustrated (unreasonable) passengers against drivers.

- BPIP Inner West stage 2 November 2017. Routes 412, 423, L23, 428 & L28. Marrickville to Canterbury via Petersham, Dulwich Hill & Hurlstone Park and Marrickville to
Kingsgrove via Earlwood.

https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/easing-sydneys-congestion/bus-priority-program.html

Questions.
- Why did the RTBU not raise any concerns during the consultation period or after BPIP was implemented in Region 9 between Dover Heights and Bondi Jct. which occurred only few years ago?

- Why did the TWU not raise any concerns during the consultation period or after BPIP was implemented in privately operated regions?
*Transdev, CDC NSW Hillsbus and Forest Coach Lines.

The unions have either agreed with the situation of bus stop closures or allowed it to slip by unchallenged as it doesn't directly affect members, only passengers. This situation is only raised as a concern at the same time as a bigger issue occurs such as privatisation and as such is added to bolster the union scare campaign.

The RTBU have asked the state government to provide hard evidence for its reasoning to franchise regions, it is time for the RTBU to provide some hard evidence for each claim they make under the 'Don't Sell Out Buses' campaign.
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby boronia » Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:59 am

Stu wrote:
The RTBU have asked the state government to provide hard evidence for its reasoning to franchise regions, it is time for the RTBU to provide some hard evidence for each claim they make under the 'Don't Sell Out Buses' campaign.


Including the "buses have been/will be sold". This is the most misleading claim in the whole campaign.
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby Linto63 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:51 am

Its an ideological war, there is no prize for running a straight and honest campaign to come second. Both sides will be loose with the truth, always have been, always will. Don't know why anybody is really surprised that porky pies are being told.
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby tonyp » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:29 pm

Linto63 wrote:Its an ideological war, there is no prize for running a straight and honest campaign to come second. Both sides will be loose with the truth, always have been, always will. Don't know why anybody is really surprised that porky pies are being told.

That's rather simplistic. There are genuine benefits from operational privatisation including cost savings, incentives and improved customer relations, among others. The main issue is that the benefits often take a while to clearly show through and all the critics expect them to be evident virtually from day one. There's a lot of work to be done to improve some operations and it's also constrained by the actions of the agency in the background.
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby Linto63 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 1:44 pm

Simplistic and realistic. Both sides will gloss over the bits that lessen their cases and over-egg minor or non-existent problems into bigger ones to enhance their case. Anybody doing a bit of research into it will quickly realise that it is only the service provision that is being contracted out and not an outright sale as is being portrayed, but the majority of the population probably don't know that and are easily fed a mistruth.

Self interest from Macquarie Street has seen many a policy backdown by the incumbent government, fire service levy, dog racing ban, council amalgamations to name a few, so you can't fault the union for having a go. The privatisation of Region 6 has been the end of the world as some predicted, but it hasn't set in fire either.
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Re: New bus contracts to drive improved services (as from 20

Postby PaxInfo » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:57 pm

In Transit wrote: (I wouldn’t say innovative, in fact the MTT had already been innovative in its own way but the new service designs were simply good practice)


MTT's network didn't change much during most of the 1990s. There were bad practices like running overlapping routes on a Sunday at almost the same times rather than offsetting services to provide a better and more even frequency. Almost every route had between 4 and 8 trips on Sundays, there were lots of dead-end termini and everything went into the CBD. Your most frequent routes were every 20 minutes on weekdays - there was only a handful of 15 min corridors (106, 170-179) in the whole metro area.

Outside the northern suburbs (which got a new network when NSTS opened) I think the big changes happened from about 1998. The first stage of the Circle route started. A lot of headways were tidied up with 15, 30, 60 and 120 min frequencies. The System 21 premium route plan came out (largely fully implemented now with the 900 series routes). Also a lot of local route reforms including circumferential feeder routes.

The Mandurah line and associated network was another advance in 2007 for the south. For a long time the Guildford Rd, Morley and surrounds area seemed to be stuck in time. Also around Armadale. But the 900 series routes have helped. And there have been a lot of east-west routes crossing Wanneroo Rd feeding into Joondalup line stations which have steadily gained service (previously there were hardly any apart from the Circle route).

Based on occasional visits, there was a deterioration in the fleet and its presentation in the early years of private running. But this was reversed about 5 years after.
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