Thursday, May 30, 2024

Victoria rolls out new regional bus contracts

The Victorian Government has finalised new 10-year contracts worth $2.3 billion for Victoria’s entire regional bus network.

A total of 177 bus contracts with 58 operators comes into effect from 1 July across the state including local town services in Echuca and Hamilton, school bus services and major operators servicing regional cities such as Ballarat and Geelong.

Under the new contracts, four major bus companies operating in Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, and the Latrobe Valley will for the first time be subject to new performance measures and service standards consistent with bus services in Metropolitan Melbourne.

“Modernising the regional bus contracts will deliver more reliable bus services, a cleaner bus fleet, improved accessibility and job creation in regional areas that need it most – all great outcomes for rural and regional Victoria,” said Minister for Public Transport, Ben Carroll.

“These new regional bus contracts complement our investment in new and improved bus services, and the $90 billion Big Build which is transforming public transport in Victoria.”

The Minister said seven hybrid buses and 56 new low-floor, step-free diesel buses will be introduced across 74 smaller regional routes by the end of next year, replacing more than half the fleet on these services with new buses.

The fleet replacement and upgrade schedule outlined in the contracts will result in the entire regional bus fleet being compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) by the end of next year, with the new diesel buses having the latest European emissions technology that either meets or exceeds Australian emissions standards.

Provision has also been made in the contracts for the introduction of zero emissions buses as part of Victoria’s Bus Plan, which will see all new public buses be zero emissions from 2025, contributing to the Government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.

In a first for regional bus contracts, operators have signed up to a social outcome agreement, with at least 250 jobs to be created over the next 10 years for priority groups including at least 90 new roles for women and at least 17 new roles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as disadvantaged Victorian jobseekers.

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