In 2023, ACT Transport Minister Chris Steel provided three updates to the ACT Legislative Assembly regarding the ongoing delays in delivery of the Scania K320UB buses which would replace the last of the Renault PR100.2s. Delivery was promised by mid-2023, then by November 2023 and lastly by early 2024.

On 6 February 2024, the Minister supplied the Assembly with a further update.

CHRIS STEEL MLA (Minister for Transport): In early 2022 the ACT government entered into a contract for a short-term lease[1] of 26 low-emission diesel buses, which were scheduled to arrive by the end of 2022. The leasing of these buses was planned as a short-term solution to replace our old non-Disability Discrimination Act compliant buses while we transition to an entirely zero emissions fleet.

Bus 730 was the 9th and final Scania K320UB to be delivered in 2023

The response from the supplier at the time of procurement indicated that they would be able to deliver the low-emission diesel buses during the 2022 year. However, the bus industry in Australia is experiencing supply chain issues, price increases and resource shortages which have continued to impact the delivery of the supply contract for the 26 low-emission diesel buses. In October 2023, I advised the Assembly that we were expecting that all of the Renault PR100.2 series buses would be retired by early 2024. That expectation was based on Scania/BusTech’s delivery schedule, which they have not delivered against.

Today I am providing a further update to the Assembly on the delivery of these low-emission diesel buses and will outline the impact this is having on the replacement of the old Renault P100.2 buses. Since my last update to the Assembly last year, international supply chain issues for the supply of raw materials and parts to complete buses on the production line have continued to greatly impact the delivery of the remaining low-emission diesel buses. There are also significant resourcing issues that the bus industry and bus manufacturers are experiencing with the ability to hire skilled labour to complete buses. Not only is this impacting the supply of this contract but the issue is being felt by a number of suppliers and manufacturers Australia wide.

Transport Canberra has now been advised by Scania that all remaining vehicles will be received before the end of 2024

Chris Steel MLA – ACT Transport Minister

Transport Canberra has been closely managing the bus production and monitoring progress with the primary contractor Scania and body supplier BusTech. The impact of supply chain disruption on the provision of raw materials has continued to be significant, with impacts to the supply of steel and components, air-conditioning units, internal fit-out components as well as shortages of fibreglass components.

Changes to the original delivery schedule have been reset on eleven occasions since contract execution.

As at today Transport Canberra have taken possession of nine of the 26 Scania/BusTech diesel buses with all nine buses in service. Transport Canberra has now been advised by Scania that all remaining vehicles will be received before the end of 2024, and (they are) expecting to receive confirmation of an updated schedule in the coming weeks for delivery dates. Transport Canberra will continue to monitor the compliance of Scania against this advice.

In addition to Transport Canberra ensuring the delivery of procured buses, it is undertaking to reduce the number of Renault PR100.2s in service, through operational interventions and initiatives that will not compromise service reliability. Transport Canberra also continues to support passengers who require accessible services, through the immediate response by transport officers to provide transport if an issue is identified during service or through assisting passengers with planning journeys.

As transport minister, I am disappointed by Scania Australia and its partners’ performance under this contract, and I continue to seek advice on what options are available to government. Despite putting in place the contracts to support the replacement of non-compliant buses, revised delivery dates, on multiple occasions, for the remaining buses on order have meant that Scania Australia has not been able to deliver the buses on time as per the terms of the contract.

In August of 2023 I met with the peak body, the Bus Industry Confederation, to discuss the broader challenges the Australian bus manufacturing industry is facing. This discussion centred around the difficulties that the industry is experiencing, inclusive of several converging challenges: inflation, costs and wage escalations, labour and skills shortages, supply chain uncertainty and inconsistent approaches to local procurement and standards.

As of today, more than half[2] of the old Renault PR100.2 series buses have been replaced by the new battery electric buses and low-emission diesel buses that have been delivered and are in service. All the remaining Renault PR100.2 series buses will be decommissioned once further buses have been received and fully commissioned.

Due to the delays in the arrival of replacement vehicles, the remaining Renault PR100 series buses will need to be actively managed. If we were to remove all of the Renault buses from service today, this would significantly risk service reliability for Canberrans. However, Transport Canberra will continue to reduce the use of these buses in deploying the fleet as much as possible until all vehicles have been replaced. Transport Canberra is working to only operate Renault PR100.2s when the only alternative would be to cancel a service.

Real-time customer information identifies all services that are accessible, and a process is in place for customers to request an accessible bus on a specific route through Transport Canberra customer service.

The ACT government is committed to transitioning our fleet to clean, quiet, comfortable and accessible buses, integrated with light rail and running on 100 per cent renewable energy. It is unfortunate that it is the delayed delivery of conventional diesel buses that has been the greatest problem in managing the renewal of the fleet during the transition. Transport Canberra is continuing to manage the public transport fleet to ensure that there are reliable services for Canberrans, and I will continue to update the Assembly as we actively manage the transition away from the small number of remaining non-compliant vehicles.


Notes:
  1. The lease period for the Scania K320UB diesel buses is shown in the contract to be 10 years. ↩︎
  2. The PR100.2 fleet at the end of 2022 was 36 buses; as at the date of this statement there are 15 remaining in service. ↩︎

This page was last updated on 16 April 2024