Victoria is well behind OECD best practice when it comes to its public transport operations according to Professor Bill Russell, Deputy Director of the Australasian Centre for the Governance and Management of Urban Transport (GAMUT).
"Melbourne has a fairly unusual system of public transport operations through franchising,” he says. “The OECD doesn't think it’s a good system, the public doesn’t think its a good system. The OECD says public transport should either be publicly operated, or operated on the basis of specific gross contracts. The best practice examples in Australia are in Perth and Brisbane with 100% public operation, and so it’s quite an ‘odd-man-out’ situation in Victoria."
"This is the last roll of the dice, and the Brumby Government must deliver effective public transport during the life of these contracts."
Professor Russell also warned against expectations that the new operators will make an immediate positive impact. "Connex had a lot of problems and were unable to provide reliable service, and it would be very optimistic to think that another operator can simply walk in with existing tracks, rolling stock and system design and accomplish the kind of performance that is being experienced in Hong Kong for example."
"It's a high risk bet by the Brumby Government. It's betting a lot that this re-franchising will be successful and deliver the kind of public transport system people want."