How to derisk multi-operator bus franchising for NSW

Published April 18, 2024 in Blog

Public transport franchising, including bus services, is an increasingly attractive approach for authorities seeking to free up specialist operators to deliver improved services and give the public better reliability. But franchising is not all smooth sailing and if not done well can end up on the rocks of reality.

NSW recognised these benefits more than a decade ago and has been steadily moving towards a fully franchised model for bus operations ever since. The Bus Industry Taskforce’s second report, released in February 2024, acknowledged the progress Transport for New South Wales (Transport) has made in this space.

However, while franchising is well underway in Sydney, managing this growing operation is increasingly challenging and a move to franchising in the regions will only make this harder.

The report also identified that Transport does not maintain ongoing expertise in specialised services contract procurement, but rather buys it in as and when needed. This means that corporate knowledge is not retained, and it is no wonder that the report identifies that management of these contracts is dominated by fragmented, manual, and inefficient processes.

Realise the potential

The Industry Task Force recommendations included that Transport develop and adopt new approaches to self-reporting and auditing, and replace the annual self-assessment report with a comprehensive system for reporting changes, recording incidents, and gathering relevant data, for example through an on-line portal.

The right system will allow for contracts to be negotiated, timetables to be updated, and SLAs to be measured automatically. Claims for payments can be submitted, justified, and approved (or not) using common data.

Understanding what franchising options are available and identifying how technologies can support this shift in responsibilities will allow authorities like Transport to fully realise the potential of this methodology.

The good news is that franchise management technology is already in use at the scale NSW needs. Trapeze has delivered it to Singapore, London, and Riyadh and soon this technology will also be running across all of Ireland. This is a case where the right technology can simplify the management of the contracts, mitigate the loss of corporate knowledge, and deliver significant benefits to planners, operators, and the public. Understanding this technology positions Transport for success.

Trapeze’s team of ITS experts have extensive global experience of franchising and contract management, so I recommend this blog by my colleague Brian Higbee as a good place to start. In How to create a successful public transport service with a Franchise model, Brian considers the authority-operator relationship, explains how Intelligent Transport Systems can help, and provides global examples of best practice. The Trapeze whitepaper Franchising: the mobility model for a post-covid world provides even more detail and is a very worthwhile read for anyone involved in this topic.

National-scale experience

With national-scale experience in major, high-profile roll outs of franchise management software, Trapeze can share with you how to improve your franchise management, saving you time and improving customer service. Act now and contact Trapeze Group here for more information.

Mode of Transport

Public Transport Authorities, Bus


Intelligent Transport Systems

Meet the author

David Panter

Industry Solutions Manager, ITS

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