The Victorian Government has finalised new 10-year contracts worth $2.3 billion for Victoria’s entire regional bus network.
A total of 177 bus contracts with 58 operators comes into effect from 1 July across the state. Under the modernised contracts, four major bus companies operating in Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, and the Latrobe Valley will for the first time be subject to new performance measures and service standards consistent with bus services in Metropolitan Melbourne.
Seven hybrid buses and 56 new low-floor, step-free diesel buses will be introduced across 74 smaller regional routes by the end of next year, replacing more than half the fleet on these services with new buses.
The fleet replacement and upgrade schedule outlined in the contracts will result in the entire regional bus fleet being compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) by the end of next year.
The new diesel buses will also have the latest European emissions technology that either meets or exceeds Australian emissions standards.
Provision has also been made in the contracts for the introduction of zero emissions buses as part of Victoria’s Bus Plan, which will see all new public buses be zero emissions from 2025.
Victorian Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll said the bus contracts would complement the State Governments $90 billion Big Build investment.
“Modernising the regional bus contracts will deliver more reliable bus services, a cleaner bus fleet, improved accessibility and job creation in regional areas that need it most – all great outcomes for rural and regional Victoria,” Carroll said.
The contracts were awarded following a three-stage evaluation process by the Department of Transport over the past year.