Bus and Tram Express
Bus and Tram Express

Northern Beaches buses in private hands after tender awarded to Keolis Downer

May 28, 2021Media News

The NSW Government has today sold out Northern Beaches residents with the awarding of a tender for Region 8 bus operations to Keolis Downer to run profit-driven services, despite no community consultation and the risk of service cuts and delays for commuters.

“Today sees the end of a proud 90-year history of government-run transport in the Northern Beaches, and it’s the local residents who campaigned tirelessly to keep their buses public who will suffer the consequences of running public services for profit,” says David Babineau, RTBU NSW Tram and Bus Division Secretary.

“Already cuts to the bus network, designed to make it more profitable for the private operator, have saddled commuters with massively increased journey times as they’re forced to catch two or three buses just to get into the city. Many residents have been left virtually stranded because most or all of the bus services near their home have been axed.

“The Minister’s claim that residents will benefit from this takeover is just insulting. We know exactly what happens next. Everywhere buses have been handed to private operators, on-time running plummets, just as it did when Keolis Downer took over Newcastle’s services.

“Those in the Northern Beaches lucky enough to still have a bus service will soon find it more unreliable as the operator pushes to make a profit. If the purpose of public transport is to allow people with no other option to get around, it seems like our most vulnerable are nothing more than easy targets for this government.”

Mr Babineau says transport workers will also be severely impacted by job losses and decreased wages.

“Already some drivers have been forced to look for other work as a reduction in services means a reduction in shifts and shift length. A quarter of a driver’s annual wage is actually made up of penalty rates, and the recent service changes have cut into that drastically,” says Mr Babineau.

The announcement today comes as residents over the bridge in Randwick and surrounds prepare for a peaceful protest on Sunday against the NSW Government’s proposed cuts to more than 25 bus services across region 9 in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.