Transport Minister Eric Charlton said today that the new look MetroBus was already making substantial cost savings as a direct result of the Government's competitive tendering process.
Speaking at today's launch of MetroBus, formerly the Metropolitan Transport Trust, Mr Charlton said the organisation had reduced its administrative costs by about 50 per cent and its engineering costs by 30 per cent.
"These achievements, combined with a more equitable fare structure, will result in annual savings to the taxpayers of Western Australia of about $47 million," he said.
"This performance will significantly reduce the current level of debt associated with running the network, which is about $120 million per annum.
"While the Government accepts there will always be a cost to the wider community for the provision of public transportation, it does not believe that that cost should be allowed to balloon unchecked.
"The competitive tendering process has proven the right course of action to bring down the cost of providing Perth's public transport system."
Mr Charlton said the competitive tendering program was well under way, with the first contract associated with the South Perth ferry operations awarded to a private operator on February 5.
Tenders would close next month for some outer metropolitan bus services at Joondalup North and Armadale and tenders would be called soon for the Mandurah and Rockingham bus services.
Mr Charlton said more than 50 per cent of the Transperth network, which spanned some 2,000 kilometres, would be operating under competitive tender by early 1996.
He said the process had made MetroBus more flexible in a commercial sense. This was highlighted by the introduction of seven major new services operated by MetroBus benefiting people in Armadale, Bayswater, Canning, Gosnells, Melville, Swan and Wanneroo, without impacting on MetroBus's cost reduction program.
In addition, MetroBus was operating the successful new NightRider service on Friday and Saturday nights. The service, which was fully integrated with Perth's taxi operations, was proving popular with people attending late night entertainment spots in Northbridge and the city centre.
As well, Westrail had extended the frequency of Fastrak services on Sunday nights and public holidays, with trains now running up to 11.30 pm.
"As Perth's population increases, there will be greater demands to open up new public transport routes and improve existing ones," Mr Charlton said.
"The Government encourages greater use of the public transport system, and the savings we make today will help fund the expansion of the network in the future."
Mr Charlton said today's name change was timely because it signalled the emergence of MetroBus in the public transport arena as an operator in its own right.
"However, it is important for the public to be aware that MetroBus will be part of the integrated Transperth system, and that the Transperth name and livery will not change," he said.
Media contact: Dean Roberts 321 7333