Electric buses and on-demand public transport as Keoride operator wins beaches bus contract.

Keolis Downer has been appointed as the new operator of Region 8 bus services, which covers the Northern Beaches and Lower North Shore. It is understood the value of the contract is around $900m over eight years. The company is known for operating the popular on-demand transport trial called Keoride in the Pittwater area.

As operator for the Region 8 area, Keolis Downer will be responsible for delivering around 24,000 services each week, including the 24-hour B-Line and all day express services between Dee Why and Chatswood via Frenchs Forest. They will start operating services around the end of October, with all State Transit drivers and maintenance staff offered a two-year job guarantee.

It is expected the move to a private operator will save taxpayers more than $100m over the term of the agreement. Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said Keolis Downer will deliver more than 1.2m services a year and introduce electric buses over the course of the eight year contract.

Andrew Constance

Andrew Constance

“We are lucky to have some of the best transport operators in the world running buses in Sydney, and customers on the Lower North Shore and Northern Beaches will soon benefit from the expertise and efficiency Keolis Downer brings to the table.

“Keolis Downer will be ordering electric buses to replace their older diesel buses as they are retired from the fleet, with more than 100 new zero-emission buses to be introduced to the area over the next eight years,” said Minister Constance.

A spokesperson for Keolis Downer said the new electric buses would be implemented as part of an asset renewal program for the bus fleet.

“We will have 125 electric buses by the end of the contract in eight years. It wont be the whole fleet, it takes time and is part of an asset renewal program with the state. It will be 125 electric buses out of over 500 buses in the current fleet. Charging will happen at the depots, Mona Vale and Brookvale. We will convert the depots so they have all the charging infrastructure,” said the Keolis Downer Spokesperson.

Keoride Service at Avalon

Minister Constance confirmed that the Keoride service, which had been operating as a trial, will now be made permanent.

“As part of the new deal, the trial On-Demand service between Palm Beach and North Narrabeen will be made permanent. Around 540 customers use this service each day to connect to major public transport hubs and routes like the B-Line,” said Minister Constance.

The spokesperson for Keolis Downer confirmed they were in discussions with Transport for NSW to expand the availability footprint of Keoride, possibly to Collaroy. They will also be seeking to improve service availability, with wait times increasing as the service became more popular during the trial.

David Franks

David Franks

Keolis Downer CEO David Franks said their first priority would be to ensure a smooth transition of all the employees and maintain high standards of customer experience and operations.

“We are very proud to partner with Transport for NSW to support the future growth and transformation of the Northern Beaches. Drawing on our experience locally and globally, we will launch a range of new initiatives to enhance the customer experience building from the already excellent bus services in the area.

“We will introduce new service technology to enable staff to actively manage routes and monitor bus running times, improving the frequency of bus services. We are also very excited to continue to deliver the highly successful On Demand transport service, which we have been operating in the area since 2017.

“We look forward to further engaging with the community to deliver a safe, efficient and reliable transport system that supports the liveability and future prosperity of this vibrant, growing region,” said Mr Franks.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate