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The NSW government is privatising some Sydney buses because there are too many complaints

Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

The New South Wales government wants to privatise 233 bus routes in Sydney’s inner west because it considers complaint levels too high.

The Daily Telegraph reports that NSW transport minister Andrew Constance compared complaints over state-run buses with privatised regions, following through on a 2012 threat from the then minister, now premier Gladys Berejiklian that she would privatise the services if complaint levels did not improve.

The state-run inner west region had 12,000 complaints in 2014-15, compared to a total of 17,781 across 11 privately contracted regions in the state. Complaints about NSW buses totalled 37,578 in 2014.

“Inner West services attracted the highest number of complaints out of Sydney’s metropolitan area in recent years, well above the results of bordering regions operated by private industry. It also had one of the worst on-time running results last year,” Constance said.

“There have been improvements in recent years, but State Transit still lags a long way behind its industry competitors in measures like on-time running and reliability.

“If the bus industry can provide quality in western Sydney, the Inner West deserves the same, especially as Sydney grows.”

More than 12 months have passed since the government released a customer satisfaction survey on public transport. According to the latest Transport for NSW annual report, customer satisfaction had risen steadily over three years, from 85% in June 2013 to 89% in May 2016.

Customer satisfaction surveys in 2013 and 2014 revealed the biggest cause of dissatisfaction was a lack of information about bus delays, a situation that has been improved in recent years via a range of apps.

The area the government plans to sell off stretches from the city west to Strathfield and Olympic Park

The government will continue to own Region 6 buses and assets, including depots, and set Opal fares and timetables.

Private operators will have to compete and re-apply for contracts every 5 to 10 years. The tender will begin in July 2017 and is expected to be completed by July 2018.

The minister said Sydney Buses will continue to operate three of the state’s 15 regions – 7, 8 and 9 – which includes the inner metropolitan areas of the eastern, and southern and northern suburbs, including the CBD.

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