Customer service survey to gauge progress on Adelaide transport network

The South Australian government has announced the launch of the Adelaide Metro Customer Satisfaction Survey to understand how passengers perceive public transport services in Adelaide.

The twice-yearly survey will cover trains and tram services, as well as buses and metrics will include behaviour of staff, cleanliness, availability and accuracy of information, and driving behaviours.

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Keolis Downer awarded $2.14bn Adelaide train operations contract

Keolis Downer has been awarded the contract to operate and maintain Adelaide’s train services.

The eight-year contract begins on 31 January, 2021 when Keolis Downer will operate Adelaide’s six lines and a fleet of 92 railcars.

South Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Wingard said the contract involved improvements for passengers.

“Keolis Downer will operate Adelaide’s train services for an initial eight-year period under a performance-based $2.14 billion contract focused on delivering significant improvements to the customer experience.”

Wingard said that Keolis Downer will implement a digitalised work platform for Passenger Service Assistants to enable them to spend more time with passengers.

The contract is the first heavy rail operations contract for the Keolis Downer joint venture. The company operates light rail in Melbourne, the Gold Coast, and Newcastle, as well as buses in NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.

According to David Franks, CEO of Keolis Downer, the operator hopes to improve customer services and increase the use of public transport in Adelaide.

“As a local public transport operator in South Australia for the past 20 years, we are excited to continue our partnership with DIT to deliver better train services in Adelaide,” Franks said.

“We are committed to partnering with local stakeholders and organisations to create value in South Australia and deliver the Government’s vision of a sustainable, revitalised train service for the people of Adelaide.”

Adelaide has seen steady growth in patronage on the rail network since 2014, when the Seaford and Tonsley lines were electrified. Further electrification of the Gawler line is currently underway.

“The electrification of the Gawler line is underway and through this project we will be introducing new electric trains with increased capacity,” said Franks.

The Tonsley line is also currently being extended, connecting Flinders University and Medical Centre to the rail network.

“These initiatives are real game changers and will transform the rail network. We are proud to be part of this journey with DIT,” said Franks.

Wingard highlighted that the state government retained ownership of infrastructure and and controls over aspects of the service.

“The state government still owns all the rail assets including tracks, trains and stations and will continue to have control of fare price, revenue, and standards for service levels.”

Keolis Downer was one of three consortiums shortlisted for the contract. The others were Adelaide Next, a consortium of Deutsche Bahn and John Holland with Bombardier as a subcontractor and TrainCo, a consortium of Transdev and CAF.

Adelaide Metro app canned, third-party apps encouraged

Adelaide Metro will discontinue its metroMATE app and provide customer information through third-party apps.

The South Australian government is encouraging passengers to use three privately-developed apps instead, and the existing metroMATE app will be discontinued after early July.

Minister for Transport Stephan Knoll said that the new apps will give customers better information.

“By providing better, faster and more accurate information we are empowering public transport customers to make better decisions about their journeys, providing a better service.”

The new apps include real time data, alerts, and countdowns, as well as the ability to save trips and suggest new routes combining transport modes. All three are available on the Apple App Store, however only Moovit and Transit are available for Android mobile operating systems.

As part of the digital restructure, Adelaide Metro’s website will also be redesigned.

“The Adelaide Metro website is one of South Australia’s highest trafficked websites, averaging over 3 million users and 50 million-page views annually,” said Knoll.

“The new-look website will deliver a simplified home page which will require fewer clicks to find the information customers use the most.

“It will also be visually easier to navigate and will provide greater accessibility for people who have a disability, as well as the wider public.”

Knoll said the decision to move to third-party apps was due to the low ratings of metroMATE and its limited features.

The new apps are one part of the roadmap released by Adelaide Metro and the South Australian government to get commuters back on public transport after the coronavirus (COVID-19). Services were also increased on the Gawler line along with other measures.

Consortium for Adelaide tram network announced

Contracts for the operation of light rail services in Adelaide have been awarded to Torrens Connect.

Announced today, March 10, along with a suite of bus contracts, Torrens Connect will operate Adelaide’s tram network from July.

Torrens Connect is a joint venture between Torrens Transit, UGL Rail Services, and John Holland.

The contract for the North South network combines bus and tram services, and according to SeaLink Travel Group – owner of Torrens Transport – CEO, Clint Feuerherdt, the integration will allow for better services.

“Between high frequency services, and integrated bus and tram outcomes, we will open up new destinations on the public transport network for customers,” he said.

According to Feuerherdt, bringing the modes together will allow for innovation in service delivery.

“The new tender has allowed us to bring in our global best practice experience, matched with our local market knowledge and history, to truly create a tailored series of network improvements for Adelaide.”

Partnered in the contract is UGL Rail Services, which in addition to its work in heavy rail and metro services, has contributed to light rail in Hong Kong.

“This contract extends our light rail operations and maintenance capability alongside our Adelaide heavy rail presence. We look forward to providing a safe and quality operation for the people of Adelaide,” said UGL managing director, Jason Spears.

For partner John Holland, the contract is the first multimodal contract in the company’s history, highlighted CEO Joe Barr.

“From operating the country’s first metro train in Sydney, to Canberra’s new light rail, John Holland has a proven record of putting the customer at the centre of everything we do.”

As a result of this contract, John Holland will be one of only a few private organisations to operate trains, trams, and buses in Australia.

“The South Australian Public Transport Authority (SAPTA) has recognised our commitment to South Australians and we look forward to working with them over the coming years to deliver improvements across the network,” said John Holland’s executive general manager – rail, Steve Butcher.

The SA government and the successful contractors will deliver network improvements by the end of 2020. Consultation on the improvements will begin in April.

“In the coming weeks we will be releasing details about the bus service improvements that will benefit South Australians ahead of a consultation period we will undertake,” said SA Transport Minister, Stephan Knoll.

“Now the contracts have been signed, we can begin working with the providers to deliver the best possible bus and tram network for South Australians.”

Next step for consortia shortlisted for Adelaide train network

The South Australian government has released an Invitation to Supply (ITS)  to the three consortia that were shortlisted last year to run a privatised Adelaide train network.

The consortia are Adelaide Next, a consortium of Deutsche Bahn and John Holland with Bombardier as a subcontractor; Keolis Downer, a consortium of Keolis and Downer EDI; and TrainCo, a consortium of Transdev and CAF.

Once the offers from the contractors are received, the SA state government will assess the responses and decide on a final contractor by mid 2020.

The successful proponent will be required to improve services in the Adelaide area, and will be judged based on customer satisfaction, integration of trains with other public transport modes, more frequent and faster services, collaboration with customers and stakeholders, and accessibility improvements.

The contract will cover four lines within the Adelaide Metro network, including Belair, Gawler, Outer Harbor, and Seaford with branch lines Grange, and Tonsley.

While the successful consortium will operate the network, the SA state government will retain ownership over rail assets, set standards for levels of service, set prices, retain revenue, and mandate performance targets for the contractor.

SA Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, Stephan Knoll, said that the model will deliver better services.

“We will be capitalising on the vast private sector experience to help deliver better train and tram services while maintaining control of the assets, fares and service frequency.”

The shortlisted consortia already operate services in other states in Australia, with Keolis Downer operating the Melbourne tram network, the Gold Coast Light Rail, Newcastle Light Rail, and a number of bus services in SA, Queensland, and Western Australia.

Transdev and CAF together operate the Parramatta Light Rail network as part of the Great River City Light Rail consortium.

Deutsche Bahn and John Holland are partners in the Canberra Metro consortium which operates the Canberra light rail.

“The companies associated with the shortlisted proponents have experience delivering better services in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, as well as in Europe,” said Knoll.

SA hopes to increase patronage on its public transport network, with Adelaide having the lowest rail passenger kilometres per capita, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).

“We are leaving no stone unturned with our reforms to deliver better and more customer focussed bus, train and tram services,” said Knoll.

Last year, the ABC reported that a Downer employee was caught sending quotes from fake news articles to Knoll about outsourcing Adelaide’s tram network.

Three consortia shortlisted for Adelaide Metro contract

Three consortia have been shortlisted to tender for the operation, maintenance and service delivery of the Adelaide Metro Train Services, the South Australian state government announced on Thursday.

Adelaide Next, Keolis Downer, and TrainCo will be invited to submit a response to the state’s invitation to tender, to be released in the first quarter of 2020.

Adelaide Next comprises Deutsche Bahn, Bombardier Transportation Australia and John Holland, Keolis Downer comprises Keolis and Downer EDI, and TrainCo is a consortium between Transdev and CAF. The state government will select the successful tenderer in the second half of 2020.

“We agree with South Australians and know that our public transport system has room for improvement,” said minister for transport, infrastructure and local government Stephan Knoll.

“What we are seeking to do is bring trains and tram in line with the same model that our buses have operated under for the last 20 years – that accounts for around 70 per cent of our public transport network.

“Encouragingly we’ve seen some green shoots and in the last financial year we saw public transport patronage increase by over one million trips compared to the previous year.

“The short-listed consortia all have experience in the management and service delivery of rail services, some of which in other jurisdictions in Australia.

“These companies have proven records in improving service delivery and customer experience and supporting employees through the transition from a public to a private operation.”

Marshall Government to privatise Adelaide metro services

The South Australian Liberal Government has officially announced plans to privatise the state’s train and tram networks.

Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll said that the new model would help to provide more efficient and customer-focused services for commuters.

The transition will follow the model already employed by South Australia’s outsourced bus services, which were privatised in the year 2000.

“There is no doubt that we can and must provide better and more customer-focussed public transport services for South Australians,” said Knoll.

“We know that public transport patronage growth has stalled, and customers want a better level of service than is currently provided and the Marshall Government agrees with our customers.

“Under this model, we will be able to deliver more efficient services, so we can reinvest back into the network to provide better services.”

The state government will continue to own the network’s assets, control fares and set service level requirements following transition to the new private system.

The Adelaide Metro has one of the lowest levels of patronage of any metro system in Australia, with roughly half of users believing they don’t get good value for money from the service, according to the government. South Australia is also the only remaining state in Australia that does not outsource its tram and train services. 

Knoll cited the Melbourne Metro as a positive example of how outsourcing tram operation can deliver “sustained, improved efficiency” for its users.

“If we are going to provide better and more customer focussed public transport services, we need to keep pace with the rest of the nation and benefit from their learnings,” he said.