Local government to blame for Brisbane's broken bus network

LORD Mayor Graham Quirk has demonstrated that he hasn't got what it takes to deliver a decent bus network for Brisbane.

The key problem is the bus network and the inability of Brisbane City Council and the State Government to fix it.

All other Australian capital cities don't trust local government to run public transport. Sydney has its buses run by NSW Government company State Transit.

Perth has its buses run by three private contractors under public agency TransPerth.

In NSW, buses, metros and light rail are State Government initiatives and are not local council projects.

In theory, the Queensland Government decides which bus routes go where and how often.

In practice, this is not the case.

We know this because this theory was tested during the 2013 TransLink Bus Review.

In the real world, Brisbane City Council actively blocked the bus review, refusing to send staff to meetings on six separate occasions.

A cosmetic bus review followed, leaving critical problems with the bus network such as waste, duplication and "black holes" intact.

Waste and duplication increase bus service costs.

So the Queensland Government increased fares.

Residents are angry that there are "black holes" in Brisbane City Council's bus network - Yeronga, Bulimba.

By rejecting the 2013 TransLink Bus Review, the Lord Mayor effectively cancelled proposed service upgrades to their suburbs.

Uber has now moved into this space, profiting from the lack of bus service there.

The removal of the Coronation Dr's bus lane now means western suburbs residents are caught on buses in traffic gridlock.

The Lord Mayor rejected bus reform at the time saying "the bus network is not broken and does not need a radical overhaul". He also said that he would "never ever" implement such reforms and that they were absolutely "off the table".

Other cities reformed their bus networks. Brisbane's Sister City of Auckland, NZ reviewed its bus network. Hobart completely reviewed its bus network, cutting bus network complexity by 50%.

In fact, the Auckland bus review involved the former head of Brisbane Transport Neil Cagney, who now runs a transport consulting firm on Coronation Dr.

Importantly, none of these cities are building a metro in order to fix their bus networks. They are just getting on with fixing their bus network directly.

ROBERT DOW, Rail Back on Track


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