VICTORIAN Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan last week announced that the State Government will negotiate new contracts with 12 metropolitan bus operators that together run 70 per cent of Melbourne's bus network.
According to the Minister, more than 120 million trips are taken on Melbourne's extensive bus network every year, which supports more than 3,500 local jobs. However, the number of people using Melbourne's buses has been in decline since mid-2014.
Ms Allan described the current arrangements – which date back to 1970's – as being old and inflexible. The negotiation of new contracts begins the process to phase out exclusive bus contracts over the next decade.
"To support both big and small operators through the transition to non-exclusive contracts, operators will be able to choose between short and long-term agreements that best suit the needs of their business," Ms Allan said.
"The Labor Government is also renegotiating Melbourne's train and tram contracts, and overhauling Victoria's taxi and hire car industry to regulate rideshare and deliver safer, more responsive services to Victorian passengers."
The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources will manage the bus contract negotiations on behalf of the State Government.
The remaining 30 per cent of the bus network is operated by Transdev, through an ongoing contract signed in August 2013.