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Melbourne's first ever designated busway may run down the middle of Hoddle Street with bumper-sized bendy buses running every three minutes between East Doncaster and Southern Cross Station.
Global transport giant Transdev has pitched to the Andrews government a proposal to build and operate the "Doncaster bus rapid transit" system for 30 years and reinvent public transport in Melbourne's eastern suburbs.
The French-based company, which has a contract to operate a third of Melbourne's bus network, wants to build and run the premium bus service as a public-private partnership.
The rapid transit busway would be a first for Melbourne, but would mirror international examples Transdev operates in cities such as Nantes in France and Bogota in Colombia.
Senior ministers have been briefed on the proposal, including Treasurer Tim Pallas and Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan.
Transdev and infrastructure developer John Laing submitted the idea late last month, using the Department of Treasury's market-led proposal guidelines – the same process Transurban used to gain approval for its West Gate Tunnel project.
It is estimated the Doncaster-CBD busway would cost more than $500 million to build, which is 10 to 16 per cent of the estimated $3 billion - $5 billion cost of building Doncaster rail, a project Infrastructure Victoria assessed last year would return just 10 cents for every dollar spent.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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