Jim Glasson, the Director General of the Ministry of Transport, was the guest speaker at the regular Institute for Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) transport seminar at Sydney University.
"We've come a long way and I think we now have a viable business model to take into the future" he said as he reflected on the work that the Ministry has done since the Bus Review report of 2004 (the Unsworth Review).
Mr Glasson talked of how the bus service contract areas have been refined down from 87 areas to 13 contract areas focused on coherent regions. "This makes it much more possible to have an integrated system" he said. He pointed out how important the creation of the 43 strategic corridors have been. "I think these corridors will serve us well in the future as we think about building an integrated public transport system" he said.
"We've had incredible interest from the public with the Bus Network Review consultations" he said. "We've had 3,000 submissions or comments given to us for some of the Regions and had hundreds of people attending some of the public forums. I think this reflects how important public transport is to people"
He also talked about how important it was to achieve fare harmonisation. "I remember having to pay more to use a private bus than on the government bus and I questioned what sort of message that was sending to the public and the customers" he said. "As well as making the standard fares the same, customers using the private buses can now access pensioner excursion tickets and weekly tickets at a 20% discount. This is comparable to the Travel Ten discounts available to customers using STA buses. "These weekly tickets are a good interim position until we get integrated ticketing" he said.
Mr Glasson reminded us that Sydney has the highest public transport mode share of all the capital cities. He also reminded us that a lot has been done to improve the bus system in the last few years and that there are still many things, like real time bus location information for passengers, that are not far off. This was good positive message to hear because it can be easy to get focused on the things that aren't right about the system.