Buses in Adelaide
|Locale||Adelaide, South Australia|
Buses in Adelaide comprise the most extensive service of the South Australian capital's public transport system, the Adelaide Metro. A large fleet of diesel and natural gas powered buses operate services which typically terminate in the city-centre or at a suburban interchange. Buses get priority on many roads and intersections, with dedicated bus lanes and 'B'-light bus only phases at many traffic lights.
Buses in Adelaide has been known under several names. The State Transport Authority (STA) combinined the metropolitan rail operations of the former South Australian Railways Commission, and the bus and tram operations of the former Municipal Tramways Trust in December 1975. In July 1994, the STA was abolished and government public transport services were transferred to TransAdelaide, a publicly owned corporation.
In 1995-96, there was a partial tendering out of bus services. TransAdelaide retained three contract regions, Serco, in its first Australian bus operation, won two contract regions, and Hills Transit, a TransAdelaide company, won the Adelaide Hills operating contract. Services were run and marketed under each operator's name, presenting a disjointed network to the public.
The 2000 round of tenders saw the end of TransAdelaide's (and therefore the Government's) direct operation of bus services in Adelaide, although it retained tram and rail services. Serco won the North-South, Outer North, and Outer North-East contract areas, Torrens Transit the East-West contract area and City Free services, Australian Transit Enterprises (ATE) trading as SouthLink the Outer South contract area, and Transitplus, a joint venture between ATE and TransAdelaide, the Hills Contract area. At this time the Adelaide Metro brand was implemented across all transport operators, appearing to the public as a unified network, with common livery, timetable designs and a city Information centre.
The Adelaide Metro buses are operated by:
- Torrens Transit - North-South, East-West and Outer North East contract areas (includes Free City Connector and O-Bahn services)
- SouthLink - Outer South, Outer North and Hills contract areas.
Companies which had operated Adelaide Metro services in the past but which no longer operate in Adelaide are:
- Light-City Buses - operated the North-South and Outer North East contract areas (including the 300 Suburban Connector and O-Bahn services) from 2011 until its purchase by Torrens Transit in 2018.
- Transitplus - following the abolition of joint owner TransAdelaide in late 2010, Transitplus services were taken over by joint owner Australian Transit Enterprises's SouthLink.
- Serco - Serco ended its contract in 2004, at the contracted half-term break-point.
Many arterial roads leading towards the city have several routes servicing them, allowing for high frequency with a maximum wait of 15 minutes between 7.30am and 6.30pm on weekdays and every 30 minutes at night on weekends until 10pm. These are:
There is a Mega Go Zone on the Adelaide O-Bahn which has a 15 minutes maximum wait, 7 days a week. Mega Go Zone buses service Tea Tree Plaza Interchange, Paradise Interchange, Klemzig Interchange and the city.
Limited Stop Services
Limited stop services combine limited stops with express services to reach the outer metropolitan areas of Adelaide. Limited stop services include:
- Elizabeth station via O-Bahn, Golden Grove Village and Main North Road
- Greenwith via O-Bahn and Golden Grove Village
- Elizabeth station via O-Bahn, Ingle Farm and Salisbury Interchange
- Mawson Interchange via O-Bahn, Ingle Farm and University of South Australia
- Salisbury via O-Bahn, Ingle Farm and Bridge Road
- Golden Grove Village to Flinders University via O-Bahn, City and Goodwood Road
- Golden Grove Village to Marion Centre Interchange via O-Bahn, City and Marion Road
- Noarlunga Centre via South Road
- Noarlunga Centre via South Road and Southern Expressway
- Seaford via South Road and Panatalinga Road
- Mount Barker via South Eastern Freeway
- Nairne via South Eastern Freeway
- Mount Barker via South Eastern Freeway and Hahndorf
- Aldgate via South Eastern Freeway and Stirling
JetBus airport services were introduced in August 2005. These are direct routes that link Adelaide Airport with the city and other key destinations. However, not all services are equipped with upright luggage rack facilities. On 10 November 2014, new JetExpress service, namely route J1X running express between Adelaide Airport and the city with a Bustech CDi with Cummins ISL engine double-decker bus, equipped with a luggage rack on the lower deck. This bus is the first one of its kind operating in Adelaide public transport system after double-decker trolleybuses were removed from service in 1958. Bus routes are:
- Glenelg Interchange to City via Harbour Town Centre Interchange, Adelaide Airport and Sir Donald Bradman Drive
- Adelaide Airport to City via Grote Street, Wakefield Street, Pulteney Street, North Terrace and Sir Donald Bradman Drive
- Harbour Town Centre Interchange to City via West Beach, Adelaide Airport and Sir Donald Bradman Drive
- West Lakes Centre Interchange to Marion Centre Interchange via Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide Airport and Marion Road
- West Lakes Centre Interchange to Marion Centre Interchange via Torrens Road, Arndale Centre Interchange, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide Airport and Marion Road
Free City Services
Free City Connector buses are zero-fare, wheelchair-accessible circuit routes that service the Adelaide CBD and North Adelaide daily which are joint of initiative of Government of South Australia, Adelaide City Council and Adelaide Metro, on four routes:
- City & North Adelaide Loop Bi-directional loop via North Terrace, Currie Street, Hutt Street, Halifax Street, Sturt Street, Grote Street, Morphett Street, Jeffcott Street, Ward Street, Hill Street, Tynte Street, Finiss Street and Frome Road. The 98A service is an anti-clockwise loop while the 98C is clockwise.
- City Loop Bi-directional loop via North Terrace, Currie Street, Hutt Street, Halifax Street, Sturt Street, Grote Street, Victoria Square, King William Street. This service operated under the '99C' only and it was only in 2014 that the name change took place. The 99A service is an anti-clockwise loop while the 99C is clockwise.
- The 97A bus ran for a few months, so did the Beeline  
The Adelaide Metro's most frequented route is the O-Bahn guided busway to Modbury carrying around 9 million passengers a year. It is the world's fastest and until 7 August 2011 the world's longest guided busway, with a maximum permitted speed of 100 km/h (62 mph) and a length of 12 km (7.5 mi). It has three stations, Klemzig Interchange, Paradise Interchange, and Tea Tree Plaza Interchange at the Modbury end. Buses leave the track at Paradise or Tea Tree Plaza to continue services on normal roads, eliminating the need for passenger transfer.
After Midnight Services
- Tea Tree Plaza Interchange / Golden Grove Village Interchange to City via Golden Grove Road and O-Bahn
- Marion Centre Interchange to City via Goodwood Road
- City to Aberfoyle Hub via Goodwood Road and Marion Centre Interchange
- City to Wattle Park via The Parade
- West Lakes Centre Interchange to City via Military Road and Henley Beach Road
- Newton to City via Montacute Road and Payneham Road
- Ingle Farm to City via Hampstead Road and North East Road
- Gawler to City via Mawson Central Interchange and Main North Road
- Semaphore to City via Port Adelaide, Arndale Centre Interchange and Torrens Road
- Marion Centre Interchange to City via Glenelg and Anzac Highway
- Salisbury Interchange via O-Bahn and Paradise Interchange
- Fairview Park via O-Bahn and Hancock Road
- Moana via Marion Centre Interchange and Reynella
- Mount Barker via South Eastern Freeway, Crafers, Aldgate
The Roam Zone concept began operation in the Hallett Cove, Sheidow Park and Trott Park area in September 2001. At specified times passengers can be dropped off or picked up away from bus stops, taking them to their door (or as near as the bus could get). Having done this, the roaming bus returns to its scheduled route. Roam Zones have bright blue bus stops located throughout. Adelaide Metro now features one Roam Zone:
- Hallett Cove, Sheidow Park and Trott Park (from 7pm until last service daily)
Adelaide Oval Footy Express
Adelaide Metro provide services between Adelaide Oval and areas across South Australia. Tickets for the games also act as the ticket to travel free on any Adelaide Oval Footy Express bus, train or tram, in order to alleviate overcrowding on regular services. Most services offer early arrival times and some routes will have services that leave an hour after the final siren. The locations in metropolitan Adelaide include:
- Old Reynella Interchange to Adelaide Oval via Brighton station, Marion Centre Interchange and South Road
- Aldgate to Adelaide Oval via South Eastern Freeway and Glen Osmond Road
- Paradise Interchange to Adelaide Oval via St Bernards Road and Magill Road
- Athelstone to Adelaide Oval via Payneham Road
- Burnside to Adelaide Oval via Greenhill Road
- Rosslyn Park to Adelaide Oval via The Parade
- Mawson Interchange to Adelaide Oval via Main North Road
- Rosewater to Adelaide Oval via Days Road and Torrens Road
- Port Adelaide and Outer Harbor to Adelaide Oval via Port Road
- West Lakes Centre Interchange to Adelaide Oval via Grange Road
- Henley Beach to Adelaide Oval via Henley Beach Road
- Blair Athol to Adelaide Oval via Prospect Road
- Mitcham Square to Adelaide Oval via Unley Road
- Mitcham Square to Adelaide Oval via Fullarton Road
- Glenelg Interchange to Adelaide Oval via West Beach and Sir Donald Bradman Drive
- Elizabeth station to Mawson Interchange via Salisbury Highway (transfer required)
- Salisbury North to Mawson Interchange via Paralowie (transfer required)
- Davoren Park to Elizabeth station via Smithfield station (transfer required)
- Aldinga to Noarlunga Centre Interchange via Seaford Interchange (transfer required)
- Greenwith to Adelaide Oval via O-Bahn
- St Agnes Depot to Adelaide Oval via O-Bahn
- Northgate to Adelaide Oval via Klemzig Interchange and O-Bahn
- Hope Valley to Adelaide Oval via Paradise Interchange and O-Bahn
- Salisbury East to Adelaide Oval via Paradise Interchange and O-Bahn
- Woodcroft Community Centre to Adelaide Oval via Main South Road
- South Adelaide Footy Club to Adelaide Oval via Main South Road
- Mount Barker to Adelaide Oval via South Eastern Freeway
- Elizabeth Shopping Centre to Adelaide Oval via Main North Road
- Ottoway to Adelaide Oval via Arndale Centre Interchange and Hawker Street
- Aberfoyle Hub to Adelaide Oval via Goodwood Road
- Morphettville Depot to Adelaide Oval via Marion Road
- Oaklands Interchange to Adelaide Oval via Glenelg Oval and Anzac Highway
Experience with Contracted Bus Operations
The tendering out of bus operations has been a bumpy ride for Adelaide commuters. The original 1996 partial service tendering saw services run and marketed under each operator's name, presenting a disjointed network to the public. The Adelaide Metro brand was created in 2000 to restore a unified face to the public.
Contract holder Serco withdrew in 2004, at the contracted half-term break-point, after failing to renegotiate its contract on better terms. Serco had previously informed the Minister for Transport that it was not willing to continue to operate the bus services for a further five years on the terms contained in the then existing Contract. Serco had made a submission to the Department of Transport and Urban Planning proposing to operate the bus services in the contract areas on new terms and conditions. This submission was rejected by the Department of Transport and Urban Planning. The company unsuccessfully rebid for the contract in the subsequent competition.
Light-City Buses was awarded two of Adelaide's six public bus contract regions commencing operation in October 2011, taking over the North South and Outer North East Contract Areas from Torrens Transit. These two contract regions cover 43% of the bus services in Adelaide, valued at $567 million over the eight-year life of the contracts. The contracts are in place for an initial eight-year term, from 2 October 2011 to 30 June 2019 with an option to extend for a further four years, subject to government approval. Since the start of operations of bus services by Light-City Buses in October 2011 service interruptions and delays which were initially dismissed as teething problems have continued to frustrate commuters.  Transfield has claimed most of the problems have been resolved and they are working on resolving the rest, however in May 2012, Transport Services minister Chloë Fox imposed a fine of $121,000 for failing to meet Performance Benchmark Targets:
- Transfield performed "significantly worse" than the other two companies operating contracted buses in Adelaide in reaching its contractual benchmarks.
- The number of Transfield buses running on time from 1 January – 31 March 2012 ranged from as low as 51.6% on Transfield North South contract region to 66.9% on the Outer North East region. Transfield was fined $121,000 for late running buses services as a result.
- In the 1 April – 30 June 2012 period Transfield, on-time running increased only marginally to 52.2% for the North South contract region and 71.3% for the Outer North East contract region. Transfield was fined $70,000 for its poor on-time running performance.
Transfield have said that new timetables in July 2012 should help get buses running on time.
The negative experience following this latest change of operators reflects the advice given to the Government in 2009, when it was recommended that contracts should be extended by negotiation, rather than re-tendered. The expert advice was based on:
- the efficiency of existing tender prices
- the incumbent operators' service quality performance
- the incumbent operators' entrepreneurship in regards to service development
The expert advice stated that:
- there are significant risks in any transition from one operator to another, including public uncertainty and staff unrest,
- there would be difficulties inherent in ‘unpicking’ the then current network structure and timetables,
- any change in operators was likely to present considerable risks, such as reduced service quality, reduced patronage growth, and limited benefits.
The South Australian Government went ahead with tenders in 2010. As noted above, the resultant change of operator from the incumbent Torrens Transit to Light-City Buses in the North South and Outer North East Contract Areas has seen many of the warnings given come to fruition.
Professor David Hensher, Director of the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at the University of Sydney, has commented that while three rounds of competitive tendering in Adelaide had ironed out the cost inefficiencies and lack of service incentives under the previous public monopoly model,
|“||all the research on competitive tendering versus negotiated performance-based contracts is showing that one cannot squeeze any more out of the cost efficiency stone after three rounds and the risk of declines in service quality is real if this is pushed||”|
|— David Hensher, |
It is not just service performance which is suffering; Government data shows a steady increase in patronage over the first two complete rounds of competitive tendering, followed by a sharp drop-off in the past two years.
- Transport in Adelaide
- List of public transport routes in Adelaide
- Transport in South Australia
- Transport in Australia
- List of bus companies
- State Transport Authority (South Australia)
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