Search is on to get Newcastle moving, but RTBU slams privatisation

TRAMS, ferries and buses will be run by a single operator in Newcastle in an Australian-first move to streamline the city’s fractured public transport system.

The state government yesterday announced a global search for an operator to create a “world-class” transport system for a city whose main rail line was cut short and where bus and ferry patronage is dwindling.

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance said the planned introduction of light rail into Newcastle’s CBD was an opportunity to rethink the city’s transport network.

“If we want Newcastle to reach its potential, we need to create a modern and connected system that links light rail with frequent reliable buses, ferries and trains,” he said.

“Rather than having multiple operators running ad hoc services with mismatched timetables, services would be streamlined to a sole provider, Transport for Newcastle.”

The announcement is a step towards goals outlined in The Daily Telegraph’s Bradfield Oration campaign.

One of the campaign’s key recommendations was to “develop a truly connected public transport system, with driverless cars, metro rail, light and heavy rail and bus systems operating seamlessly together”.

However, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union slammed the move, describing it as little more than “privatisation by stealth”.

Divisional secretary Chris Preston said the government owned State Transit Authority needed to be able to tender for the planned works alongside private operators.

By Neil Keene, Daily Telegraph

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