Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, the Budget, on Page 280 of the volume, same page, shows that the average bus age of contracted services has been steadily increasing, and it's projected to be 15.4 in the next financial year. This is almost double the average age of Metro's fleet, at 8.1 years, and it is above the average Australian fleet age of 12 years.
Are there safety and accessibility concerns with having a fleet this old, and what are you doing? It doesn't appear that you are doing enough to improve the age profile of the contracted bus services.
Mr CRANE - The way we contract general access and school bus services encourages the replacement and funding of the capital requirements to bring on new buses. The contracts are about three years old, so we are actually regularly getting upgrades of buses through the system.
The fact that the average age is that, doesn't necessarily bring a concern in terms of safety, as travelling on school buses is one of the safest part of the journey for kids.
Our challenges, and my concerns, are more around getting on and off the school buses, in terms of safety. The actual travelling on a school bus, we have a very good safety record in that space.
The contracts do ensure and incentivise operators to take on and upgrade their fleet, but over time. I do not know the exact numbers, but there's over 300 school buses in our fleet. buses.
Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Mr Crane. Is the average age of the fleet in any way mandated by national standards, and what are we doing to - as you said - we are bringing things up with incentives or through contact incentives to encourage replacement?
Is there is any sort of national standard that we are failing to approach?
Mr FERGUSON - I will ask Mr Crane to address that but before he does, I think I can now say that we have successfully contracted all our school bus operators around Tasmania; it has been a mammoth effort. You are also seeing some of the licences and contracts changing hands and you are starting to see, as has happened with Merseylink and Redline, new investment coming in. As a result of that you are seeing newer buses being invested n. I will ask Mr Crane when he is responding further to pick up and share with the committee how the contracts provide an allowance for bus investment as well.
Mr CRANE - Contracts certainly provide a capital component payment so it encourages them and it runs out at a certain age. For a school bus, I am pretty sure it is at 20 years that you no longer get funding for that bus, so that is part of the incentive process. There are within our contractual arrangements limits on how old a bus can be and when we stop paying it to incentivise people to go and replace those buses.
Dr WOODRUFF - There is no national standard?
Mr CRANE - Not that I am aware of.