BIC e-Bulletin May 2023


Message from the Executive Director

Collaboration and constructive advocacy are core to the Bus Industry Confederation’s success in representing this wonderful industry.  This month our advocacy has paid off with the Australian Government announcing funding in the budget for a Transport and Infrastructure Net Zero Roadmap and Action Plan.  We have been advocating for this for the past couple of years and it is great that the relevant Ministers and bureaucrats have taken notice. 

We have been collaborating with the Australian Manufacturer Workers Union (AMWU) in our efforts to address the crisis facing some of our supplier members.  We have also had constructive conversations with the national secretary and national assistant secretary of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) on how we can jointly address driver shortages including attraction and retention, and ways to address antisocial behaviour.

On behalf of BIC Members, we have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) to work together to benefit our members. This includes events, training and exchange of information. The MoU was signed on behalf of the BIC by our chairperson Tony Hopkins and by Mohamed Mezghani the UITP Secretary General on behalf of UITP.

Work is well under way on planning for the BIC National Conference which is being held in late October in Adelaide and for the National Bus and Coach Show 2024 which we are hosting in Brisbane.

Save a space in your diary.  We are holding a Suppliers Group meeting online on Thursday 15th June at 2pm – 4pm.  Invitations to supplier members will be sent shortly. Arrangements for an Operators Group meeting are in progress.

Roz Chivers

Executive Director, Bus Industry Confederation

Policy, Advocacy and Technical Updates

Get involved

An industry association is only as good as its members, and we love to get our members involved in the work that we do on their behalf.  Our voice is stronger when we can draw upon real world examples and experiences to develop advocacy campaigns, policy positions and events on your behalf.  At the moment we are looking for people to help us on the following projects:

  • Local content policy working group – help shape the policy work that will be a key part of our advocacy work over the next 12 months
  • National Bus and Coach Show working group – bring your fantastic ideas to the table so we can deliver a show that is relevant and best meets the needs of Industry next September.  What tech talks and toolbox talks should we have?  What social functions should there be? How do we deliver the best experience for exhibitors and guests?

If you are interested in these opportunities get in touch with us on (02) 6247 5990 or at

Later in the year, we will be looking for new members of the existing Zero Emission Bus Committee and the Technical and Advisory Committee and potentially other committees or working groups.


TfNSW – proposed new bus electrical standards

Thanks to all of you who provided feedback on these standards. We recently had a meeting with TfNSW to present the industry feedback which was really well received. Key to the BIC’s advice to TfNSW was that any vehicle safety and standards initiatives should align with national harmonisation and internationally adopted standards. Let’s keep pushing for safer and better standards together!

Upcoming Bus & Coach Safety Advisories

The BIC is well underway in the development of a series of Bus & Coach Safety Advisories which aim to provide information relating to the treatment of zero emissions technologies relating to bus and coach standards and specifications, safe vehicle operations, vehicle maintenance, and infrastructure.

The first (of three) in this advisory series provides information relating to electric drive systems applicable to battery electric, fuel cell electric and hybrid buses and coaches. The first advisory is planned for release in July. 

Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS)

The federal government is considering mandating the Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) for cars and vans. However, the BIC believes that a mandate on AVAS for light vehicles could well see major ripple effects for the bus industry, particularly implementation approaches and in service operations. The BIC intends to provide feedback on the governments proposed regulation. If you have comments or thoughts on this, please don’t hesitate to contact Dean Moule. Let’s make sure our voices are heard!

Industry News

Recruitment and Retention Project

Over the last year the Bus Industry Confederation and its industrial relations arm APTIA have been working to assist the industry to provide a national response to the critical shortage of bus drivers. There is no doubt that the unprecedented period of pandemic lockdowns was a major factor in the downturn of driver numbers. The BIC conducted a comprehensive survey of members to identify the extent of the problem and specific issues that may need addressing as part of the Recruitment and Retention project. A wide range of issues were identified including the image of the industry and the role of the driver, poor facilities and low pay rates, impacts of antisocial behaviour on drivers and licensing and regulatory burdens.

Drawing upon the results of the survey and with input from the Industrial Working Group, the BIC and APTIA have scoped a three-pronged recruitment and retention project which has now been approved by the APTIA Council subject to funding being obtained from industry and the government.  If funded:

  • Hero Co, the agency responsible for the Dumb Ways to Die Campaign, will provide advice on the best approach to improve the image of the industry to make it more attractive as a career path
  • legal advice will be sought as to the industries exposure to potential multiple enterprise bargaining, and
  • a policy position paper will be developed on the impacts of the shrinking workforce to support our advocacy to governments on identified solutions.

At the recent APTIA Council meeting, the Council resolved to strike a special levy upon its members to ensure that all major industry players have buy in into this exciting undertaking. If you are not an APTIA member and wish to contribute to this industry fighting fund, please reach out through

Parallel to this recruitment and retention project, the BIC is organising an industry, government and union roundtable to discuss
critical issues related to driver recruitment and retention and associated issues impacting operators.  Initial discussions with state governments and the TWU have been very positive.


Australian Manufacturer Workers Union

As part of the BICs advocacy campaign in addressing the crisis facing many of our supplier members, we have been engaging with the Australian Manufacturer Workers Union to identify where joint advocacy could lead to beneficial results. This has included discussing issues associated with local procurement and the recruitment and retention project that we are currently scoping. It has also included discussions around how we stabilise the industry, manage peaks and troughs and ensure a safe and sustainable transition to zero emission buses.

Following discussions with the union, the BIC Council has signed on as a supporter of the AMWUs proposal for a tripartite approach to the transition to zero emission vehicles.  Under the proposal, the Australian Government is being asked to support a National Innovation Council (NIC) for zero emission vehicles that would take a consensus-based approach to shaping a technologically advanced and fair transition of carbon-intensive industries to ZEV manufacturing industries. The NIC would be tasked with overseeing a rapid transition of our industries, workforces, and markets to ZEV-driven growth by functioning as an executive review body for ZEV manufacturing industry advancements.

The BIC looks forward to participating in the first roundtable in June and will keep the industry informed of the progress of this initiative.

Government News

Federal budget transitions to zero

While the BIC was disappointed that heavy vehicles were not included in the recently released National Electric Vehicle Strategy, we were pleased that our advocacy paid off in the budget. For the past few years, we have been asking for a Roadmap to guide the transition to zero emission buses.  The 2023-24 Budget delivered!

The Budget included $7.8 million over 4 years to develop a Transport and Infrastructure Net Zero Roadmap and Action Plan to support the decarbonisation of the transport and
infrastructure sectors. The Roadmap and Action Plan will:

  • advise an integrated approach to advance the reduction of emissions across transport modes, alternative fuel, new technology and enabling infrastructure; and
  • apply to hard to abate sectors, such as heavy vehicles, rail, freight, maritime and aviation.

The BIC has been engaging with the team responsible for developing the Roadmap and Action Plan for a number of months and this collaboration will ramp up in the coming weeks. Public consultation will commence later this year and the action plan should be released in 2024.


Federal Budget

The Treasurer, Jim Chalmers released the 2023-24 Budget on 9 May.  In what was a relatively austere budget designed to address cost of living pressures and deliver on election commitments, there are some wins for the industry in addition to the Transport and Infrastructure Net Zero Roadmap and Action Plan. 

Highlights of the Budget

  • $5.2 million over 4 years to support Australia’s transition to electric vehicles through the development of a national charging infrastructure mapping tool, safety guidance and
    training for emergency service workers.
  • $64.2 million over 6 years to enable the delivery of transport and infrastructure priorities, including $35.6 million for IT systems to support infrastructure investment and road vehicle safety regulation.
  • $18.9 million over 3 years from 2023–24 to procure road safety data, research and evaluate projects.
  • $65.0 million for the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program.
  • $43.6 million for the new National Road Safety Action Grants Program (NRSAGP) over four years. The NRSAGP will provide non-infrastructure grants to help implement the National Road Safety Action Plan 2023–25 with a focus
    on First Nations road safety, vulnerable road users, community education and awareness, technology, innovation, research and data.
  • $2 billion for Hydrogen Headstart, providing revenue support for large-scale renewable hydrogen projects through competitive hydrogen production contracts.
  • $3.7 million in 2023–24 to extend the measure to provide age and veterans pensioners a once-off credit of $4,000 to their Work Bonus income bank and temporarily increase the maximum income bank until 31 December 2023.  Under this measure, pensioners can earn up to $11,800 before their pension is reduced, supporting pensioners who want to work, or work more hours, to do so without losing their pension.

The budget also saw an increase the Heavy Vehicle Road User Charge rate of 6 per cent per year over 3 years resulting in an increase from 27.2 cents per litre of diesel to 32.4 cents per litre in 2025–26.


Federal Budget – National Urban Policy

The Budget also includes a commitment to develop a comprehensive National Urban Policy. The Policy will address urgent challenges facing our major cities – from equitable access to jobs, homes and services, to climate impacts and decarbonisation.

This policy reform will be matched with new programs – Thriving Suburbs and Urban Precincts and Partnerships – ensuring urban communities can partner with the Australian Government to deliver essential community infrastructure and precinct-level development.

An Urban Policy Forum will be convened to advise the Minister on the latest thinking in innovation, planning, property, design and sustainability. The BIC looks forward to playing an active role in the Forum.


New Melbourne Bus Contracts

The Victorian Minister for Public Transport, Ben Carrol, has announced that the process of re-contracting 30 per cent of the metropolitan bus network will soon get underway.  Under the re-contracting process, the market will be asked to submit proposals on how to boost passenger experience, deliver network and operating efficiencies and optimise the transition to zero emissions buses, building on the Victorian Government’s $20 million, Zero Emissions Bus (ZEB) Trial.

The new contracts will commence on 1 July 2025 and will bring consistency to commercial arrangements across the metropolitan bus network, in line with the 10-year contracts other operators signed in 2018 and the Metropolitan Bus Franchise signed in 2022.

The announcement is part of the Victorian Government’s push towards a cleaner and more sustainable bus fleet. Victoria’s Bus Plan aims to improve passenger experience and deliver value for money for Victorians, with all new buses on Victoria’s public transport routes to be zero-emissions from 2025 to achieve the Victoria Governments goal of net zero emissions by 2045.


NSW Bus Industry Taskforce

The newly elected Minns Government in NSW has established a Bus Industry Taskforce delivering on a key election commitment. The Taskforce’s focus areas will include:

  • service delivery and asset management models, including the contract and performance management framework, transparency and accountability
  • service planning, including equity of services across the community and reviewing routes and service planning on a region-by-region basis
  • infrastructure and
    technology that supports the effective delivery of bus services, including the transition to clean energy
  • arrangements relating to the employment of drivers, mechanics, and other key personnel
  • other steps to improve performance including legislative amendments, regulatory changes, contractual or other related actions.

The Taskforce, chaired by John Lee, a former CEO of State Transit Authority and multiple private bus companies, has been given a 12-month period to undertake its investigations. It will provide a series of updates and reports throughout this 12-month period, including initial findings on 10 July 2023, an interim report on 10 October 2023 with a final report and recommendations by 1 May 2024. Matt Threlkeld, Executive Director of BusNSW, is a member of the Taskforce.

The BIC National Conference is Hailing the Future – Now

The BIC National Conference, Hailing the Future – Now, is being held at the Adelaide Oval (Adelaide, SA) 29 October – 1 November 2023.

The 2023 Conference provides BIC Members, government representatives and the greater industry, with an opportunity to come together to network and hear about National and International issues within the Bus and Coach Industry.

We are currently developing the conference program which will include policy leaders presenting on key topics. This is your opportunity to meet industry leaders and consult on future
challenges, needs and opportunities. 

Visit the BIC website for more information on the conference and to register.


Expressions of Interest to present at the BIC’s National Conference closes 23 June.

Are you interested in being part of the conference program?We are accepting EoI’s for presentations on:

  • industrial relations
  • innovation and new tech
  • road and driver safety
  • supply chain
  • sustainability
  • women in the industry
  • workforce and skills.

Submit your presentation EoI here by 23 June 2023. 

Partner Spotlight

We are excited to announce that Volvo Bus Australia has partnered with us for the conference Welcome Reception. Volvo’s continued support is a key contributor to ensuring the delivery of another successful conference. 

Join us as we kick off the conference with our Welcome Reception at the Lindsay Head Terrace at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday, 29 October 2023. Register

Thank you Volvo for your ongoing commitment to BIC! 

National Bus & Coach Show 2024

The Bus Industry Confederation is proud to host the National Bus and Coach Show 2024.  This new trade exhibition is being held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 September 2024.

Expressions of Interest for exhibitors are now open and close 30 June 2023.  Be sure to register quickly as we will be negotiating exhibition space on a first come first served basis.  Sponsorship opportunities will open soon.

The National Bus and Coach Show 2024 is not to be confused with the Maintenance Conference and Australasian Bus and Coach Expo 2024 which is hosted by BusVic. BusVic are no longer a member of the BIC.