Bus Industry Taskforce
The Bus Industry Taskforce has handed down further recommendations to deliver better bus services improving reliability and equity across the state.
The Second Report outlines a plan to fix bus services that are currently carrying 40 per cent of all public transport passengers.
The Taskforce’s key recommendations
- Immediately addressing investment in school and local bus services, and additional frequent and local services
- planning for rapid bus services (like the B-Line) across Sydney where appropriate
- calling out the continued challenges with recruiting and retaining bus drivers and operational staff to ensure the growth can be matched with appropriately trained and available workforce.
- a renewed focus within Transport for NSW on better asset management, risk management and safety outcomes, and,
- a practical plan for the roll out of electric and zero emission buses.
Plans to move forward with recommendations
- A proposal for a State-wide Medium Term Bus Plan, short-term improvements to local services to catch up to population growth and to support housing supply.
- Changes to the roll out of Zero Emissions Buses, including options for more ZEBs and supporting infrastructure in Western Sydney. Improvements to rural and regional contracting to be in place by 2026 with a detailed plan outlined in the Final Report.
- Working closer with councils and across government to look at strengthening the ability of Councils to enhance public transport infrastructure on local roads.
- Reviewing aspects of Bus Operator Accreditation Scheme and replace out of date guidelines with a risk-based approach for better safety outcomes.
- Work is already underway to address some of these issues and recommendations handed down in the First Report, including technology enhancements to help eliminate 'ghost buses' appearing on planning apps and more transparent service performance data provided to customers.
To ensure Transport for NSW seizes every opportunity to build a stronger bus system, the NSW Government has been committed to responding to the Taskforce’s findings as these emerge. Most recommendations made to date have been supported or supported-in-principle. The Summary of Actions report identifies the work already under way as a result of the First Report and the First Safety Report and addresses the work to be done in response to the Second Report. The NSW Bus Industry Taskforce’s final report is due to the Minister on 1 May 2024.
First Safety Report
The NSW Bus Taskforce has released its First Safety Report, with all five recommendations accepted in principle by the Government.
The Taskforce’s key recommendations
The First Safety Report addresses the expanded Terms of Reference for the Bus Industry Taskforce following the tragic bus incident on 11 June 2023. The Report responds to the Minister’s request for early findings in regard to the retrofitting of seatbelts on school buses and other immediate recommendations.
A detailed implementation plan for the five recommendations is being developed by Transport for NSW, with priority being given to improving awareness around seatbelt compliance.
The following five recommendations have been made as part of the report:
- Recommendation 1
That the NSW Government and Transport for NSW continue the implementation of the NSW Rural and Regional Seatbelts Program in outer metropolitan areas, prioritising the retrofitting of seatbelts on school buses founded on a risk-based approach.
- Recommendation 2
That a road safety campaign be implemented to promote seatbelt usage on buses, including by school children on school buses, aiming to raise awareness, change behaviour, ensure compliance with seatbelt laws, address misconceptions, and foster a culture of seatbelt compliance among bus passengers.
- Recommendation 3
That Transport for NSW consider how bus operators can be best assisted to understand and comply with their obligation under clause 89 of the Passenger Transport (General) Regulation to take "reasonable steps" to inform passengers about the mandatory use of seatbelts. This could include additional guidance material or regulatory amendment, or, in the case of contracted services, amendments to contractual provisions.
- Recommendation 4
That Transport for NSW conduct a thorough examination of the risks associated with standees on buses and explores potential risk mitigation approaches to address public perception and concerns.
- Recommendation 5
That Transport for NSW consider whether the 80km/h rule for dedicated school bus services with standing passengers could be rolled out across all services. The Government looks forward to the findings of future reports, which will address the expanded terms of reference in full.
In July 2023, the NSW Bus Taskforce released its First Report with findings that will direct the future of the bus industry across the State. Transport for NSW will action the Report’s key recommendations into the reliability, quality and effectiveness of bus services across NSW.
The Taskforce’s key recommendations
- a refocus on delivering bus services to the community
- long-term increased funding to improve bus services to underserved communities
- greater collaboration between Transport for NSW, the bus industry and the community
- re-organising of Transport for NSW to create strategic accountability for bus services
- improving contracting for rural and regional bus services
- supporting driver recruitment and retention
- creation of a driver facilities fund
- a refocus on providing replacement and emergency busing
- and a range of other measures to enhance service delivery.
Areas of future focus for review
- Safety: following the June long weekend fatal Hunter Valley bus crash, an increased focus on issues relating to seatbelts, other safety features, and implementation of safety management systems
- Asset management: Bus fleet and depot plans; fleet replacement strategies, and fleet maintenance procedures; Zero emission fleet and depot strategy; monitoring of fleet performance and reliability
- Procurement: review of current bus procurement strategies
- Industrial relations: current industrial arrangements and employment conditions, and improving retention rates
- Rural and regional: passenger forums in regional areas, engaging directly with rural and regional bus operators and their workforces
- Local government's role: improving customer facilities - how Transport works with councils to help them improve the location and installation of bus stops.
A next Report on the Taskforce’s recommendations for action is due on 10 October 2023, with the Final Report due on 1 May 2024.
Bus services connect people to jobs, education, family and essential services and play a crucial role in supporting the broader transport network.
The Taskforce will bring together bus operators, industry experts, the workforce, and community representatives to determine how to deliver more efficient and reliable services.
The Taskforce will investigate key factors relevant to bus operators’ performance and make recommendations to the Minister on options to address these performance issues.
Areas of focus include
- the service delivery and asset management models, including the contract and performance management framework, transparency in activities and the related capabilities required.
- service planning, including equity of services across the community, and related community engagement.
- infrastructure and technology that supports the effective delivery of bus services, including the transition to clean energy.
arrangements relating to the employment of drivers, mechanics, and other key personnel other steps to improve performance including legislative amendments, regulatory changes, contractual or other related actions.
the adequacy of retrofitting seat belts on school buses in regional NSW over the past 10 years.
consideration of expanding seat belts on buses to other areas of the State, and enforcement of seatbelt laws.
whether any changes should be recommended to the Australian Design Rules for buses and coaches.
bus and coach operator safety management systems, including driver training and fatigue management.
whether any gaps or duplication in risk management of bus safety exist between the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, Transport for NSW and bus operators.
Bus Passenger Forums
The NSW Government has launched Bus Passenger Forums across the state to speak with the community face to face on what they want to get from their bus services.
The forums provide a much-needed opportunity for the public to have their say.
Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Dr Marjorie O’Neill, will chair the forums over the coming months, with the first forum taking place in June in the Northern Beaches.
Members of the public and representatives from community groups, local businesses and non-government organisations are invited to have their say.
How will my feedback be used?
Your feedback will help the Taskforce develop its recommendations to Government on how we can improve the reliability and quality of bus services across NSW.
All feedback will be summarised in a consultation outcomes report, which will be published at the end of the consultation period.
We will keep the community informed throughout the process.
Taskforce Terms of Reference
The Bus Industry Taskforce and Terms of Reference were announced by the NSW Government in May 2023.
In June 2023, the Minister for Transport expanded the Terms of Reference to include an examination of certain safety and regulatory arrangements of bus operations in NSW.
Updates and reports
- NSW Bus Industry Taskforce: Second Safety Report 2024
- NSW Bus Industry Taskforce: Safety Report 2023 (PDF, 997.1 KB)
- NSW Bus Industry Taskforce: First Report, July 2023 (PDF, 2.88 MB)
- Six immediate actions to address the bus driver shortage in NSW (PDF, 408.24 KB)