By Joseph Cooney
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has said last year’s cuts to Brisbane City Council bus services were part of an ongoing review of network efficiency, indicating further measures could be announced.
With the council budget for 2014/15 announced this month, the lord mayor may further 2013’s public transport “optimisation”, which could pave the way for an eventual privatisation of the network.
At a recent meeting, Cr Quirk said the ongoing review was a priority.
“It is our task to make sure that we get Brisbane transport as efficient as it can be,” he said according to Brisbane Times. “It is not a case of an open cheque book and never will be.
“Brisbane transport … has served Brisbane well for a long long time, but we will continue to forge as greater efficiency as we can, understanding it needs to be efficient because we need to provide the best value for money for the ratepayers of this city.”
Ever-increasing fares make Brisbane the most expensive public transport system in Australia and the fifth dearest in the world, according to advocacy groups.
Robert Dow, from commuter lobby group Rail Back on Track, says the BCC bus network is a “shambles”, but the lord mayor could be hinting at plans to offer up the network to private bidders.
“I think the lord mayor is hinting that there are changes coming,” Mr Dow said.
“The public transport bus operators will most likely go to competitive tender, not necessarily immediately, but probably as a second phase.”
Brisbanites still not pleased
Brisbane commuters are equally unimpressed with the state of the network, with many unhappy regarding service cuts, lack of reliability and increasing fares.
“My bus [service] was cut down last year,” said Jing from Wishart. “It’s so hard now because it comes at the worst times, and most of the time it’s anywhere from five to 25-minutes late anyway.”
“I don’t know how Quirk can say they’re trying to provide value for money, when the buses are so unreliable and the price keeps going up,” said Emily from Mt Gravatt. “I lived in the States for four years, and I can’t believe how expensive it is here for what you get [in return].”