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Private buses have lower costs but Labor fears loss of services

NO DETAILS: The government doesn’t publish the data it collects from Hunter transport operators.STATE Labor transport spokesperson Ryan Park will be in Newcastle on Thursday to campaign against the Baird government’s planned privatisation of the city’s public transport services.
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The government’s decision to privatise the planned light rail along with Newcastle Buses and the Stockton ferry followed an Audit NSW report that found private bus operators in Sydney were 60 per cent cheaper than their State Transit Authority counterparts.

The NSW Bus and Coach Association says a similar situation would probably prevail in the Hunter, where State Transit ran one contract area and private operators ran the remaining five.

But the associationsays it can’t know for sure because the government does notpublish the detaileddata it collects from Hunter operators.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson confirmed this, saying that “whilethe government does not currently publish Outer Metropolitan Bus System Contracts, we are working to ensure greater accountability and transparency of operators”.

Audit NSW found Sydney private busescost an average of $5.43 a kilometre, while government buses were 60 per cent dearer, averaging $8.94 a kilometre.The report said there were variousreasons for the difference.

“These include slower journeys due to the relatively higher congestion and passenger density in its regions, and some governance costs due to it being a government agency,’’ the Audit NSW report said.

The report found that government and private bus companies both had problems with punctuality, but State Transit was worse.

“STA’s overall performance on other indicators is also generally below that of private operators,” the report said.

Newcastle Labor MP TimCrakanthorp said regardless of Audit NSW’s concerns,profit was not aproper motive to run public transport.

Mr Crakanthorp said he and Mr Park, MP forKeira on the Illawarra, would be at the Newcastle’s Stockton Ferry terminal at 11am on Thursday to highlight the impact the Baird privatisation would have on those who needed public transport the most.

Mr Park said on Wednesday night that the government had promised to “integrate public transport not sellit off”.

“Their plans really mean they can’t run publictransport efficiently themselves and instead have to go to aprivatisation model that will be focused on profits not passengers,” Mr Park said.

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