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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Transport, Trade, Employment and Industrial Relations
    The Honourable John Mickel

    New qconnect contracts boost Qld long distance bus services

    Minister for Transport, Trade, Employment and Industrial Relations
    The Honourable John Mickel

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008

    New qconnect contracts boost Qld long distance bus services

    New five-year contracts provided under the Queensland Government's regional transport initiative – qconnect – have boosted long distance bus services to regional centres throughout the State.

    Transport Minister John Mickel announced in Rockhampton today that the contracts covered 15 coach routes from Karumba to Cunnamulla – and even south to Lightning Ridge in NSW. They replace bus service contracts that expired on December 31.

    Most of the contracts commenced on January 1 but the new Central Queensland services would start on April 1.

    "Through qconnect, long distance bus services will be better integrated with other passenger transport services - such as regional air routes, QR trains and other buses - to make it as easy as possible to travel around regional Queensland," Mr Mickel said.

    "The Bligh Government is committed to maintaining the network of long distance bus services that is so important to communities outside South East Queensland.

    "The government will contribute more than $2.9 million each year to the cost of operating these services – a 21 percent increase over the contribution for the expiring contracts," Mr Mickel said.

    "Many small towns and villages have no other means of public transport. Someone living in those communities who doesn't drive a car would rely on the coach service to get to a major regional centre for shopping, medical, education or other services.

    "Long distance buses are also vital to Queensland's tourism industry. They are especially popular with backpackers visiting Far Northern or western centres.

    "Importantly, under the new contracts, buses used on all 15 routes will be wheelchair-friendly," he said.

    The Minister said the new contracts resulted from extensive community consultation and a rigorous tendering process to ensure the new services continue to meet the current and future transport needs of rural and remote transport disadvantaged communities.

    Benefits for passengers would vary from route to route but would include:
    • Modern buses that are wheelchair-accessible
    • Online ticketing
    • Improved reliability of services
    • Better connections with air, bus and rail services
    • Improved marketing to ensure regional communities are aware of the services available.
    "Buses operating under these contracts will carry the distinctive qconnect brand that guarantees quality transport services wherever you travel in regional Queensland," Mr Mickel said.

    "Where you see qconnect, it means the government is working with transport operators and local councils to provide the best transport possible and ensure that services connect people and places to meet the needs of local communities.

    "The new long distance bus services, along with new qconnect air service contracts announced last month, deliver major improvements in transport for all regional Queensland," Mr Mickel said.

    [NOTE: Details of the bus routes are attached]

    Media contact: Nathan Moir 3235 4060



    Karumba - Cairns
    Existing operator Trans North Bus and Coach will continue on this route. Buses will run at the same frequency, but will be upgraded to a 30 seat Scania bus, which is larger, more modern, and wheelchair accessible.

    Biloela - Maryborough
    Callide Coaches will continue the services between Biloela and Maryborough. They will now operate a wheelchair accessible bus, and introduce an internet booking facility.

    Toowoomba - Rockhampton
    Kynoch Coaches has been awarded the contract, replacing Greyhound. They will use a new, wheelchair accessible 45-seat BCI bus and will introduce an internet booking facility. Services with Kynoch Coaches will be cheaper for passengers with concessional discounts.
     
    Mount Isa – Brisbane, Charleville – Brisbane, Mount Isa – Townsville
    Greyhound Australia has been awarded contracts to continue with these three routes and will use 56 seat Scania long distance coaches which are wheelchair accessible.

    Charters Towers – Townsville
    Douglas Coaches will continue to provide services on this route. Passengers will now enjoy a new 29 seat BCI6850 bus that is wheelchair accessible, and will also be able to make bookings on the internet.
     
    Cairns – Cooktown (Inland), Cairns – Cooktown (Coastal)
    Country Road Coachlines will continue its services between Cairns and Cooktown, on both the inland and coastal routes. New, larger buses will be used for the routes and online booking facilities introduced.

    Bowen – Collinsville
    Bowen Transit will continue to operate this route. Return services from Collinsville to Bowen will be doubled from the current three to six days a week. This is a great improvement for people who live in Collinsville and work in Bowen.

    Toowoomba – Cunnamulla, Toowoomba – Lightning Ridge
    Kynoch Coaches has been awarded a further five year contract for both routes. Kynoch will introduce new 45 seat BCI buses that are wheelchair accessible, and internet booking.

    Emerald – Rockhampton, Emerald – Mackay, Emerald – Longreach
    Paradise Coaches has been awarded the contract, replacing Emerald Coaches from April 1, 2008. Emerald Coaches did not re-tender for the routes. Paradise Coaches will introduce new 25 seat BCI buses that are wheelchair accessible, and internet booking.