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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 120

Mr FALINSKI (Mackellar) (19:55): There are two bridges out of my electorate. One is a drawbridge, which can be used in times of national emergency such as the election of a Labor government, and the other, the Roseville Bridge, traverses a ridge 400 metres long. My constituents have an innate fear of crossing bridges, not only because they are leaving God's country but because, on the Northern Beaches, when you cross a bridge it means hours in traffic, hours away from family, precious time wasted.

My electorate has three of the most congested roads in New South Wales. Every single day, 15,000 Northern Beaches residents, mostly from my electorate, cross one of these two bridges to catch a bus into the city. I welcome steps that the state government is taking to ease congestion on Northern Beaches roads. The Berejiklian government is spending $500 million on improving our Northern Beaches bus network through the B-Line project. By 2019, the B-Line will include a fleet of double-decker buses to improve capacity, with a bus frequency of every five minutes during peak hour and every 10 minutes outside that. The service will have stops at Mona Vale, Warriewood, Narrabeen, Dee Why and the Sydney CBD. If delivered and operated right, the B-Line will make a difference to the travel times of my constituents, making life a little easier and a little better. It will allow a working parent to get home a little earlier to tuck their kid into bed.

Too often, governments pour money into projects and programs that fail to achieve their stated goals. Government is great at spending money but not so great at delivering outcomes. In education, governments around Australia are investing more, yet outcomes are getting worse. More money does not equal better outcomes. An expensive B-Line will not improve travel times for the people of the Northern Beaches if it is not delivered correctly. In New South Wales, the B-Line can be operated by a local bus operator or by the union dominated and government owned State Transit Authority. According to the New South Wales Auditor-General, the STA provides 50 per cent of bus trips in metro Sydney yet receives 60 per cent of government funding. Local bus operators provide the other 50 per cent and receive less than 40 per cent of allocated funds. That is a difference of nearly $200 million. Local bus operators deliver bus services efficiently and effectively.

When it comes to key performance indicators, the STA loses to local bus operators on almost every measure. Fewer people pay their bus fares on STA buses. More complaints are made about STA buses, and those complaints are not handled properly. STA customers are less satisfied. STA buses are less presentable. STA buses are less safe and less reliable, and have more major defects. Most importantly, STA bus rides are twice as likely to be late. One in four STA buses runs late. A sure-fire way to ensure one in four B-Line bus rides arrives late is to ensure that the STA runs the B-Line. A sure-fire way to ensure B-Line buses are more complained about, less safe and less reliable is to allow the STA to operate them. A sure-fire way to get the worst return on the B-Line is to allow the STA to operate it. Based on the Auditor-General's findings, handing over the B-Line to the STA and the RBTU without giving local businesses the chance to tender for it is like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank.

I call on Premier Berejiklian to ensure that the operation of the B-Line project is put out to competitive tender; that local bus operators, who diligently provide bus services better than the government's STA, are given a fair go and a chance. I hope that Premier Berejiklian and the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, do not kowtow to the might of the RBTU if it demands that the B-Line operation stays within government ownership. Give local bus operators, which provide a better service at a better price, a go. For the sake of the people, the commuters and their families, put it out to tender.

The SPEAKER: It being 8 pm, the House stands adjourned until 9.30 am tomorrow.

House adjourned at 20:00