Delivering trusting partnerships for route bus services: A Melbourne case study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - route design, mode - bus, mode - mass transit


Transit operating agencies, Transit lines, Transit authorities, Public transit lines, Partnerships, Motor bus transportation, Melbourne (Australia), Mass transit lines, Intracity bus transportation, Intercity bus transportation, Case studies, Bus transportation, Bus transit


The Thredbo Conference series has developed the idea of negotiated performance-based contracts as effective public transport service delivery mechanisms, with trusting partnerships between authority and operators providing an environment likely to maximise the performance of this delivery mode. However, there is a distinct lack of relevant case study material on trusting partnerships in public transport to affirm this proposition. This paper seeks to redress the balance. It outlines the system development directions that are being implemented for bus services in Melbourne, Australia, and the way that a broad-based constituency has been built to support those directions. It then illustrates the extension of the tactical trusting partnership approach between purchaser and provider to the level of the individual operator contract, showing how this should create a flexible yet disciplined environment to manage and cope with change and growth. The broad nature of the new contracts is summarised and, building on the findings from Thredbo 9, processes that are being implemented to manage the on-going relationship between purchaser and providers are outlined. Finally, the paper argues for extending KPIs beyond the operator to encompass the authority/regulator and the partnership of authority/operator, to extend performance pressures beyond the operator and recognise the interdependence of partners in a true partnership.


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