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Tuesday saw a major protest outside the state Parliament Building in Melbourne at plans by the Labor Government to effectively nationalise all the buses in the state. This is contrary to a pledge before the last state election in 2014 not to do so. Transport Minister, Jacinta Allen, points to rising passengers numbers on trams and trains and falling numbers on buses and blames thinks state ownership will solve the problem, overlooking the fact that under current subsidy arrangements the government sets the fares and timetables and also has the means to improve timekeeping by better tackling traffic congestion. Only recently it turned down a proposal for a BRT along the middle of the freeway to Doncaster. Operators across the state are unsurpisingly upset at new five, seven or ten year contracts that require them to hand over their assets at the end of the term at "market value". With the government as the only show in town at that stage market value could be non existent! Many current operators are family businesses covering several generations - and expecting to cover more in the future. They have loyal employees and undoubtedly offer the personal service that such businesses excel in providing. The operations are usually mixed with the coach side usually bigger than the bus, so it is unclear whether the government expects to acquire the charter work as well or how the company copes when the bus operations are pulled out of their depot and what is left is too small to support the overheads. With their bus fleets hard at work, most operators sent coaches to join the protest with "Don't trust Labor" banners plastered on the sides. They circuited Parliament House for the afternoon with a colourful selection from the fleets of Ryans, Kastoria, Moonee Valley Coaches and Sunlight amongst others. Up from Geelong were several McHarry vehicles including this Irizar i6 bodied Scania K360EB 1 (1501AO) being followed by a Moonee Valley Volgren.
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See April 29th's picture of the week here.