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Mass DPTI staff shift to SA Public Transport Authority

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Hundreds of public servants will soon be transferred to the newly-minted SA Public Transport Authority, kicking off the Marshall Government’s key bureaucratic reform to curb declining patronage.

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All current Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure public transport service staff will be transferred to what will be known as the South Australian Public Transport Authority (SAPTA), starting July 1.

The creation of SAPTA – a new division within DPTI responsible for the delivery of all public transport services – was a key Liberal Party election promise, aimed at encouraging a more “customer focussed” culture within the bureaucracy.

Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said the new agency would re-focus efforts to turn around declining public transport use in South Australia.

“We know that over the past three years public transport patronage has been declining,” he said in a statement.

“The establishment of SAPTA will re-focus the agency and look to turn this around.

“We have chosen this model because it allows us to maintain control over our public transport network and reforms.”

He said the shakeup would make public transport service delivery less “disjointed” within the bureaucracy.

“We have chosen this model because it allows us to maintain control over our public transport network and reforms,” said Knoll.

“Also, this model brings together all public transport services under the one roof because under the previous government it was disjointed and spread out across the department.

“We need to provide South Australians with a better experience to encourage people to use our network.”

An expert advisory board will also be set up within SAPTA and a new role, director of customer service and transformation will be advertised.

A job specification document says the director will DPTI will continue to be responsible for driving a “customer-first” culture and supporting SAPTA’s mission to “increase public transport patronage, reduce road congestion and contribute to Adelaide’s vision to become a carbon neutral city”.

But Knoll said that the “biggest lever” the Government can pull to improve patronage is the newly tendered bus services and supply contracts.

“We have built in more flexibility to these contracts to ensure we can better integrate our public transport network to, where possible, provide a faster and better service for commuters,” he said.

“For instance, under the current bus supply contract we are very restricted in the types of buses we can procure and that hamstrings our ability to deliver better or different services.

“We’ve also announced we’re exploring a trial for on-demand bus services and will consider to pursue innovative ways to improve public transport services.”

The Government has also commissioned an “all-encompassing” three-year customer satisfaction survey to assess the performance of bus, train and tram services.

The SAPTA announcement comes amid ongoing criticism of Knoll’s handling of the South Road Darlington embankment collapse this week.

The Opposition slammed Knoll for failing to visit the site of the collapse for days after it occurred.

Knoll sat for a detailed interview with InDaily to explain and defend the Government’s public transport strategy last week.

You can read that interview here.

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