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The South Australian Government reveals plans to privatise the operation of Adelaide's train and tram services, but says it will continue to set fares.
The Government says it will release tenders to contract for the operation of those services on Adelaide Metro.
It says it will still own and control "rail assets", including trains, trams, tracks and stations, and will continue to set the fare price for travel.
Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said Adelaide's public transport network was underperforming, with one of the lowest patronage levels in the country.
He said the new model would deliver more efficient services.
"There is no doubt that we can and must provide better and more customer-focussed public transport services for South Australians," Mr Knoll said.
"We know that public transport patronage growth has stalled, and customers want a better level of services than is currently provided — and the Marshall Government agrees with our customers."
Bus services were privatised in the year 2000, by then-Liberal premier John Olsen.
Mr Knoll said service frequency would be guaranteed and service standards would increase under the new model.
"We will be able to deliver more efficient services so we can reinvest back into the network to provide better services," he said.
Privatisation part of public transport reviewMr Knoll first mentioned the possibility of privatising the train and tram system in May.
He told ABC Radio Adelaide it was "too early on for us to play any sort of 'rule in, rule out' game".
The Government is reviewing the public transport system to better integrate the train, tram and bus systems.
Before last year's state election, now-Premier Steven Marshall said the Liberal Party did not have a "privatisation agenda" and its public transport policy did not mention privatisation.
Labor transport spokesman Tom Koutsantonis said the Government had broken an election promise.
"From now on, an essential service South Australians rely on will be in the hands of the corporate world rather than in the hands of the people," he said.
"That means worse services, worse amenity and higher fares and I think that this is a fundamental error by the Government.
"Can you really believe that we'll get a better service if you're running the service in the interests of shareholders and banks, rather than in the interests of the people?"
He said South Australians should feel "betrayed" by the announcement.
"This Treasurer and this Premier have not learnt the lessons of the privatisation of ETSA and other privatisations," Mr Koutsantonis said.
Patronage up but passengers unhappyTram patronage was up 7 per cent between 2015-16 and 2017-18, while train passenger numbers increased by 3 per cent, according to figures from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.
Melbourne is the only capital city to have a privatised train network, while Adelaide is the only capital to have a public tram system.
Mr Knoll could not guarantee all current drivers would keep their jobs.
"We will be working with those tenderers to make sure, to the greatest extent possible, the existing workforce gets the greatest opportunities to transition," he said.
"But there are strong provisions in place around retraining and redeployment that exist in the enterprise bargaining agreement and we'll be making sure for those workers that don't transition that we also continue to find ways to help them and help them on an ongoing basis."
A State Government survey about Adelaide's transport network, released today, found only half of commuters believed they were getting good value for money.
It showed 56 per cent of train and tram users and 54 per cent of bus passengers thought the service was good value.
"The biggest things that our customers told us was that we need to improve reliability, that we need to improve overcrowding on certain sections of our network and we also need to improve the frequency of service," Mr Knoll said.
Full-price peak fares will increase to $3.77 for metroCARD users from Sunday, and $5.60 for passengers using paper metrotickets.
The State Government announced on Friday that it had ordered 12 new electric trains to operate on the Gawler line when its electrification is complete in 2021.
The last train stopped at the Tonsley railway station on Friday ahead of the southern suburbs line being extended to Flinders Medical Centre.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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