The public transport chaos in Wakehurst and across the Northern Beaches is well known. Commuters are frustrated, schoolkids are left stranded and our bus drivers are overworked.
But with one of the private companies operating the buses now the subject of an ICAC investigation, and the same company having lost 3 high level executives over “accounting irregularities”, serious questions need to be answered about the privatisation process.
Over the past six weeks, my campaign has been running a Bus Survey within our community and I thank those who took the time to respond. People have told us their wait times average around 20 minutes in both the morning and the afternoon/evenings, and that buses are frequently cancelled; when they do turn up they are over-crowded with standing room only.
The Liberal State Government told us that privatisation of our buses would be better and more efficient - the actual bus drivers warned us that the opposite was true - and here we are - commuter chaos, school kids stranded at bus stops and PSSA sport on life support.
In May 2021 Keolis Downer was awarded an eight year contract to operate and maintain bus services on the Northern Beaches and Lower North Shore.
Keolis Downer is a joint venture between French transport group Keolis and Australian public company Downer EDI (“Downer”).
This month we saw Downer’s Chairperson Mark Chellew, Chief Financial Officer Michael Ferguson and the Head of the Tender Risk Evaluation Committee Peter Watson all resign following revelations of “significant accounting irregularities” within some Downer contracts.
And on Monday this week (20 March), we heard alarming evidence at NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of alleged corruption between former employees of both Transport for NSW and Downer.
In an investigation known as “Operation Hector”, ICAC is examining multi-million dollar programs run by Transport for NSW, which was using Downer EDI as its principal contractor from 2016. (Source: “Downer gave millions to firms with zero employees, inquiry told” Jenny Wiggins, Australian Financial Review, 20 March 2023)
Enough is Enough. The bus contract with Keolis Downer needs to be torn up and started again - with proper consumer protections and mandatory obligations such as transport to and from school sport. Or we simply return the buses back into Public Hands.
If elected as the MP for Wakehurst on March 25th, I will be demanding an urgent review of the bus privatisation contract and addressing the myriad of other problems affecting the bus chaos faced by northern beaches commuters each day.
Independent Candidate 4 Wakehurst
0425 220 618
0431 967 262