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Three companies will join forces to become Adelaide’s first private tram network operators under a State Government plan to overhaul the metropolitan public transport system.
The State Government on Tuesday signed a contract that will see a joint venture between Torrens Transit, UGL Rail Services and John Holland take over the operation of the light rail system from July 1.
The partnership between the companies will be known as Torrens Connect.
SeaLink Travel Group, which operates locally as Torrens Transit, says the company is “excited to bring (its) world-class innovations to the local market”.
“We passionately believe that if we make public transport more reliable and convenient, we will attract more passengers on board, which is why we seek to improve connectivity, performance and patronage in all of our contract areas,” group chief executive officer Clint Feuerherdt said.
The State Government has announced the joint-private tender winner to operate Adelaide’s tram network.“Between high-frequency services, and integrated bus and tram outcomes, we will open up new destinations on the public transport network for customers.”
UGL managing director Jason Spears said the company has a “strong reputation for operations and management of heavy and light rail across Australia” and it looked forward to “providing a safe and quality operation for the people of Adelaide”.
John Holland chief executive officer Joe Barr said the deal was the company’s first multi-modal contract in its 70-year history, describing it as an “exciting new chapter for South Australia”.
“We have a proud history of delivering world-class public transport services across Australia and are committed to improving services for Adelaide commuters,” he said.
New bus operators have also been announced.
Busways South Australia will come on board as the new operator of the Outer South services while Torrens Transit will continue to operate the Outer North East, East West and Outer North services.
Keolis will maintain operation of the Hills services.
The new bus and rail contracts will all take effect from July 1, for a period of eight years.
The State Government caused controversy last July when it announced plans to outsource Adelaide’s train and tram services to a private operator, leading to a campaign by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union SA and stop-work meetings by the government to speak to drivers.
The union slammed the development, calling it a “complete stinker”.
“The people of South Australia know a dud deal when they see it,” RTBU SA/NT secretary Darren Phillips said.
“We know from the experience interstate and overseas that private operators seek to maximise their profits by reducing costs wherever they can. Inevitably that means cuts to services and safety.”
Mr Phillips said it was “extraordinary that the State Government could enter into a long-term contract for the private operation of a public service without even presenting a business case to justify the decision”.
“These days you can’t even get a loan to set up a fish and chip shop without doing a thorough business case,” he said.
“It is clear that the Marshall Government cannot be trusted to manage public assets and services.”
Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said the new contracts would result in improved services.
“These new bus service contracts are going to deliver better, faster and more frequent services for South Australians,” he said.
“In the coming weeks, we will be releasing details about the bus service improvements that will benefit South Australians ahead of a consultation period we will undertake.”
The Government released a tender to find a new bus operator in February last year, asking interested parties how they could improve the network.
It said at the time the new operators would be expected to axe underperforming services, deliver better services for less money and adapt to emerging transport options.
The operation of Adelaide Metro’s bus services has been outsourced since 2000.
In September last year, the Government also announced Scania Australia had won a 10-year contract to supply replacement buses for Adelaide’s metropolitan fleet.
Under the deal, at least 29 buses must be made locally each year.
Mr Knoll said at the time that the contract would allow for changes to be made to the type of buses used, including possible electric and driverless options.
About 340 buses are expected to be produced over the decade.
The Government manages 990 buses across the Adelaide Metro system.
This article first appeared on www.adelaidenow.com.au
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