More consolidation to come? Tullamarine buses acquired by CDC Victoria

Two weeks ago the Minister for Public Transport announced three companies which operate bus routes in Melbourne have signed on to new performance-based contracts.

Ventura, Donric and CDC Victoria were announced as the three companies which signed on the dotted line for contracts which would "provide more flexibility to improve and expand services where they are needed most."

Fast forward two weeks, CDC Victoria has announced it has acquired Tullamarine Bus Lines Pty Ltd that will see the number of routes it operates in Melbourne rise from 74 to 81.

CDC Victoria operates primarily in the west of Melbourne however it has 9 routes based out of Oakleigh, including the 900 series Smart bus which runs between Rowville and Caulfield via Chadstone and Monash University. 

The 900 Smart bus, an east-west cross-town route in the eastern suburbs, looks set to be upgraded to light rail with the announcement last week that Spring Street will allocate $3 million in this year's budget to do the planning work for a new tram/light rail route.

The Melbourne presence of CDC is concentrated in the Wyndham where it recently opened a new depot as well as operating 12 routes through the Sunshine region.  CDC Victoria also operates routes in Ballarat and Geelong.

CDC Victoria is a subsidiary of Singapore listed ComfortDelGro Corporation Limited which has operations in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, the UK, Ireland and China.

Tullamarine Bus Line's 7 routes are as you'd expect, focused in the Tullamarine (suburb) area of Melbourne covering cross-town routes in the north as well as radial routes to and from the airport.

Highlighting the haphazard local public transport access to Melbourne Airport - and an issue that would ideally be solved through a package of new routes and frequency upgrades at the same time as the mooted Melbourne Airport Rail Link is brought online, Tullamarine Bus Lines operates the hourly 478 service from Airport West to Melbourne Airport. 

Could we see a better local network of buses to the airport on the horizon?

The acquisition of Tullamarine Bus Lines is a strategic move to consolidate our operations in north-west Melbourne. 

The area has good population growth with many new developments in the pipeline.

The continued growth of the Tullamarine Airport has also strengthened demand for public transport services in the area

Yang Ban Seng, Chairman of CDC Victoria

The acquisition of Tullamarine Bus Lines by CDC Victoria brings the total number of buses in the fleet under the new umbrella close to 500 across all operations in the state.  CDC Victoria has a sub-fleet of double-decker buses which were unveiled in 2015 and bought to operate routes which interface with the Regional Rail Link.

Glancing at the history of any of Melbourne's bus operating companies paints a picture of growth through acquisition - will the new paradigm accelerate consolidation and furthermore translate into better services?  It's not abundantly clear but worth keeping one eye on. 

2 comments

George D's picture

It would be hard to believe that Melbourne's bus patronage is actually declining as everything else booms, but you need only look at the buses and services which look like they're from the 1980s (and in some cases actually are). We need a strong reorganisation of bus systems and practice in Melbourne, and there will be losers from this - it should be done anyway. We can't afford another 40 years of the same.

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elev8's picture

I totally agree. I can't believe how any of these bus companies could currently make money without being subsidised. Most of them run almost empty and the frequency is appalling. Three or four strong players is what is required to lift services out of the Flintstone age and create a viable network, especially one that connects radial tram and train lines at metro frequencies.

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