On 15 May 2017, the NSW Government announced it will open the Inner West and Southwestern suburbs of Sydney public bus services to tender.
These services are currently operated by the government-owned State Transit Authority of NSW (STA) under contract to Transport for NSW (TfNSW) and include approximately 223 routes servicing Lidcombe, Strathfield, Burwood, Five Dock, Ashfield, Marrickville, Kogarah, Leichhardt, Newtown, Balmain, Glebe, Pyrmont and the CBD. The government will make existing assets available to the new operator, including depots at Burwood, Kingsgrove, Tempe and Leichardt.
The government will also continue to set fares and regulate safety and operational standards. The contracts may go up to ten years before re-tendering is required.
Travelling public not happy: Commuter Day of Action collects hundreds of signatures
Bus drivers and campaign volunteers hit bus stops across Sydney, distributing flyers and talking to commuters as part of the ‘Don’t Sell Our Buses Campaign – Day of Action’ in protest of Transport Minister Constance’s plans to privatise Sydney’s buses.
RTBU Bus and Tram Secretary Chris Preston said the ‘Commuter Day of Action’ was organised to inform the public about what is about to happen to their bus services and how they can do something about it.
“Bus drivers and campaign volunteers hit the busiest bus stops right across the city to let people know that Andrew Constance is selling off their buses.
“The ‘Don’t Sell Our Buses’ campaign has had excellent community support at the events we’ve held in Marrickville, Leichhardt and in the city of Sydney. Many of the volunteers out today had attended those meetings.”
120 rail replacement buses promised for North Shore
In the meantime, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance promised to spend $49 on more than 120 new buses, extra routes and thousands of added bus services to keep commuters moving during the upgrading of the Epping to Chatswood line in late 2018 ahead of the start of Sydney Metro.
During the upgrade, travellers will have access to seven new bus routes that will connect customers to impacted stations every six minutes at peak times, including a dedicated shuttle service to Macquarie University.
Whether the new services (and the rest of the Sydney bus network) may later be offered up for private tender is an issue that has not been addressed by the government.