APY Lands: public transport bus service

First posted on 28 September 2007 under APY Lands.
This article has been updated and archived.
Tags: transport

Summary

In October 2004, the South Australian Government announced plans to establish a public transport bus service on the APY Lands. Five years later, the service has not been established.

In July 2009, a private company launched a twice-weekly bus service to and from Alice Springs. As of September 2009, the service travelled to four APY communities and the administrative centre at Umuwa.

The Paper Trail

The need to improve Aboriginal Australian’s access to safe, reliable and affordable transportation is long-standing and well-documented.[i]

In 2002, a review of the delivery of services to people with disabilities on the APY Lands noted:

The problem of mobility is a pressing need in such a vast area with no public transport and limited private transport, very little of which is appropriate for transporting people with a physical disability.[ii]

More recently, in May 2007, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported:

  • Indigenous people are more likely than non-Indigenous to have difficulty getting to places due to a lack of access to a motor vehicle or public transport, and
  • the Indigenous households most likely to be without a vehicle are those in remote and very remote areas.[iii]

The South Australian Government committed funding to establish an integrated public transport system on the APY Lands in October 2004.[iv]

On 24 July 2007, the State’s Public Transport Division called for submissions from parties interested in tendering for a contract to run a regular passenger transport service for communities on the APY Lands. Submissions closed on 22 August, with the service due to start operating in October 2007.[v]

Documentation prepared by the Public Transport Division provided an outline of how the service would run. These documents envisaged that:

  • a fixed route service would link communities on the APY Lands with Alice Springs and Marla,[vi]
  • the service would run twice a week and most likely include stops at Iwantja, Mimili, Kaltjiti, Umuwa, Pukatja, and possibly Amata,[vii]
  • the vehicle would be “a modern passenger vehicle with air-conditioning,”[viii]
  • the service would meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992,[ix]
  • the maximum fare that an operator would be able to charge for one-way travel “between any of these towns – Alice Springs, Marla, APY Lands” was $75 concession and $150 full fare,[x]
  • the operator would be required to employ two full-time travel assistants who “must be APY residents,”[xi] and
  • the operator would be given a 12-month contract, but “with the potential to renew the contract for a further two years.”[xii]

The State Government committed $150,000 per annum towards the costs of operating the bus service. In addition to receiving that funding, the operator would have been able to “retain fare revenue and concession reimbursements.”[xiii]

On 9 January 2008, SA Tenders and Contracts advised that a contract for the bus service had not been awarded but that submissions were “currently under consideration.” The Paper Tracker understands that only one company submitted a tender for the contract.[xiv]

In March 2008, the proposed bus service was discussed at a meeting of the Tjungungku Kuranyukutu Palyantjaku (TKP), the peak consultative body for service planning and provision on the APY Lands.[xv]

On 4 April 2008, in response to the TKP discussion, the State Government’s Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division (AARD) met with the manager of the company that had submitted a tender. On 17 April 2008, AARD advised the Paper Tracker that it intended to report back to both TKP and Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) on the outcomes of that meeting.[xvi] More than six months later, APY had still not been advised of those outcomes. Nor had a meeting of TKP been held in the intervening period.[xvii]

On 25 November 2008, the report of a State Parliamentary Inquiry on the impact of Peak Oil highlighted the “need to improve Aboriginal South Australians’ access to safe, reliable and affordable public transport.”[xviii] The Inquiry formally recommended that “the State Government pursue the establishment of a community bus system on the APY Lands.”[xix]

On 4 December 2008, the Paper Tracker asked the State Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure (DTEI) for an update on the establishment of the APY Lands bus service.[xx]

In a reply dated 22 December 2008, the Department noted that:

  • its Public Transport Division and AARD had “been involved in ongoing negotiations” regarding the proposed service since May 2008, and
  • issues such as “proposed fare structures” and “other transport options” were “still being considered to ensure that services are appropriate and sustainable.”[xxi]

The letter continued:

Negotiations regarding these services are based on the level of funding provided by AARD as DTEI currently does not have any additional funding to contribute to the proposed services.[xxii]

As of September 2009, almost five years had passed since the State Government first allocated funding for this project.[xxiii]

Additional information (added 21 September 2009)

On 15 July 2009, a private company (“Bush Bee”) commenced a twice weekly bus service to four communities on the eastern side of the APY Lands; namely Iwantja, Mimili, Kaltjiti and Pukatja.[xxiv] The bus also stops at Umuwa, the administrative centre for the APY Lands.

The Bush Bee service departs Alice Spring every Saturday and Wednesday morning, with the return service leaving the aforementioned APY communities each Thursday and Sunday morning.[xxv]

Information released prior to the launch of the service stated:

This service is to operate on a regular basis for the next year, road conditions and cultural ceremonies permitting. Preference will be given to Nganampa Health passengers and those who make bookings … Concession fares apply to people currently receiving Government benefits …

Passengers need to be picked up from [one of] two locations recommended by their community, usually the Clinic and the Council Office. All passengers will be dropped off and picked up from their residence in Alice Springs …

The Bush Bee has a strict policy of no alcohol or illegal substances on the bus. Police searches will be done at random in Alice Springs and Kulgera as a preventative measure. Intoxicated passengers will not be permitted to travel …[xxvi]

As well as travelling to and from Alice Springs, the service provides transport between APY communities.[xxvii]

The cost of a one-way adult ticket from Alice Springs to an APY community ranges between $100 (to Iwantja) and $120 (to Pukatja). Child/concession fares range between $70 and $80.[xxviii]

On 18 September 2009, two months after the service began, the Paper Tracker spoke with the Bush Bee’s proprietor (Mr Grant Jaine). He indicated that:

  • the service was working well,
  • passengers can pay for their tickets with cash, purchase orders or by using Centrepay deductions, and
  • the service has been established without any funding from the South Australian Government.[xxix]

This article was last updated in 2009. It has been archived and will no longer be updated. It will, however, remain accessible online as a source of background information for anyone wishing to undertake further research on this issue. Information included in the article was current at the time it was archived. Keep in mind, however, that Ministerial changes and names of departments, among other things, may have since changed.


[i] See: Australian Bureau of Statistics & Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2005, The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, ABS 4704.0, p14 & 183; and Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (SA) Inc, 1997, Aboriginal Road Safety Issues Report, pvi.

[ii] Tregenza, J. 2002, “Review of the delivery of services to people with disabilities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands,” p29.

[iii] Berry, J., Nearmy, D. & Harrison, J. 2007, Injury of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, due to transport, 1999-00 to 2003-04, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, p4

[iv] Department of the Premier and Cabinet, 2004, “Taskforce funded projects on the APY Lands,” p1.

[v] Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure, 2007, “Request for proposal to provide a regular passenger transport service for the communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands,” Government of South Australia, p25.

[vi] Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure, 2007, “Request for proposal to provide a regular passenger transport service for the communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands,” Government of South Australia, p24.

[vii] Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure, 2007, “Request for proposal to provide a regular passenger transport service for the communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands,” Government of South Australia, p24.

[viii] Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure, 2007, “Request for proposal to provide a regular passenger transport service for the communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands,” Government of South Australia, p23.

[ix] SA Public Transport Division, 2007, “Notes for the industry briefing session … held on 3/8/2007 at Alice Springs,” p2.

[x] Government of South Australia, 2007, Draft Service Contract for the Provision of Passenger Transport Services for communities on the APY Lands between the South Australian Minister for Transport and the Chair of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara and The Contractor, p44.

[xi] The main duties of these assistants would be “to assist passengers in using the services including assisting them on and off the vehicle and [to] provide interpreting services as necessary.” Other duties may have included assisting with vehicle repairs, freight, ticketing “and creating community awareness of the service.” (SA Public Transport Division, 2007, “Notes for the industry briefing session … held on 3/8/2007 at Alice Springs,” p2. Also: SA Public Transport Division, 2007, “Responses to questions taken on notice at the Industry Briefing,” p1.

[xii] Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure, 2007, “Request for proposal to provide a regular passenger transport service for the communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands,” Government of South Australia, p29.

[xiii] Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure, 2007, “Request for proposal to provide a regular passenger transport service for the communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands,” Government of South Australia, p24.

[xiv] Newman, K. 25 March 2008. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xv] Newman, K. 25 March 2008. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xvi] Wallace, S. 17 April 2008, Email to J. Nicholls

[xvii] Newman, K. 23 October 2008, Email to J. Nicholls; Warren, M. 30 September 2008. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xviii] Parliament of South Australia, 2008, Report of the Select Committee on the Impact of Peak Oil on South Australia, pp201, p41.

[xix] Parliament of South Australia, 2008, Report of the Select Committee on the Impact of Peak Oil on South Australia, pp201, p7 (Recommendation 18).

[xx] McDonald, P. 4 December 2008. Letter to J. Hallion

[xxi] Hallion, J. 22 December 2008. Letter to P. McDonald.

[xxii] Hallion, J. 22 December 2008. Letter to P. McDonald.

[xxiii] See: Department of the Premier and Cabinet, 2004, “Taskforce funded projects on the APY Lands,” p1.

[xxiv] Minutes of the APY Executive Board Meeting held on 4-5 August 2009, page 1. See also: Jaine, G (Bush Bee). 9 July 2009. “New Bus Service to Eastern APY Communities,” letter and attachments; and Minutes of the APY Executive Board Meeting held on 6-7 May 2009, page 1.

[xxv] Jaine, G (Bush Bee). 9 July 2009. “New Bus Service to Eastern APY Communities,” letter and attachments.

[xxvi] Jaine, G (Bush Bee). 9 July 2009. “New Bus Service to Eastern APY Communities,” letter and attachments.

[xxvii] For example, people are able to travel from Iwantja to Pukatja on Saturdays and Wednesdays and from Pukatja to Iwantja on Sundays and Thursdays. See: Jaine, G (Bush Bee). 9 July 2009. “New Bus Service to Eastern APY Communities,” letter and attachments.

[xxviii] Jaine, G (Bush Bee). 9 July 2009. “New Bus Service to Eastern APY Communities,” letter and attachments.

[xxix] Nicholls, J. 18 September 2009. Notes of telephone conversation with Mr G. Jaine (Bush Bee).

The Paper Tracker works hard to provide accurate and up-to-date information. We will correct any inaccurate information as soon as it is brought to our attention. Please contact us if you have additional information or can provide us with an update.