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$300m for "innovative" new bus fleet


Adelaide’s bus fleet is set for a makeover, with 400 new buses to be integrated into the public transport network over the next decade, at a cost of $300 million – and “as many as possible” to be built locally.

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The State Government today announced it would step up the revitalisation of its ageing bus fleet with a new fleet to “replace ageing buses and those that reach the compulsory retirement age of 25 years”.

It’s understood around 25 buses are currently replaced each year – so the introduction of 40 new vehicles a year for the next 10 years represents a significant increase in the turnover rate.

The Government told InDaily the $30 million annual cost was already in the budget.

The contract will go out to tender today, which “will require the successful tenderer to maximise opportunities for local industry and local jobs, meaning as many of the buses as possible will be manufactured” locally – in a bid to provide manufacturing jobs to offset the impact of tomorrow’s Holden closure.

“The State Government is committed to supporting workers into transitioning into new roles and helping businesses to diversify,” said Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher in a statement.

Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan said the contract represented “SA’s largest single order of new buses”.

“The replacement buses will benefit South Australians by providing a modern, cost-efficient fleet that requires less maintenance, less time off the road, and that will provide an efficient transport option that will ease traffic congestion,” said Mullighan.

“The Request for Tender will require each tenderer to detail an Industry Participation Plan that maximises the opportunities for South Australian workers and industry… we want as many of the new buses built for South Australia, in South Australia.”

The Government said the contract would also encourage innovation “with flexible contractual conditions that facilitate the development of new and emerging technologies such as electric buses, micro-hybrids and hydrogen powered buses”, as well as a focus on “improving the customer experience” with facilities such as WiFi.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the move “has the potential to provide a boost to local manufacturing, secure hundreds of local jobs and further modernise our public transport network”.

The Opposition welcomed the announced, with Transport spokesman David Pisoni similarly urging a focus on local construction and new technology “for passenger safety and comfort”, as well as on electric and hydrogen vehicles.

“We look forward to seeing more detail,” he said.

Industry Advocate Ian Nightingale said in a statement that “government expenditure in stimulating economic growth has never been more important than [today’s] announcement”.

“A Tailored Industry Participation Plan will seek to maximise the benefits for local industry, providing opportunities to the automotive supply chain and the creation of employment in the manufacture of the buses,” he said.

“As the Industry Advocate, I will be monitoring commitments made during the tender process to make sure those commitments about local jobs, local investment and local supply inputs are being delivered.”

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