Double decker buses to return, but not built in Hunter

DOUBLE-decker buses to be trialled in Sydney will be built in Queensland, sparking criticism that the state government has sent manufacturing jobs interstate while a Hunter bus builder is forced to sack workers.

Transport minister Gladys Berejiklian said yesterday eight new double-decker buses would operate a two-year trial in Sydney’s north-west.

The first bus would start next week as part of a trial by service operator Busways, with the rest to follow early next year.

Gold Coast manufacturer BusTech would build them.

Opposition transport spokeswoman Penny Sharpe said jobs were being sent to Queensland as bus builder Volgren was sacking 85 workers from its Tomago factory because of a lack of work.

Ms Berejiklian said she had been advised BusTech was the only one in the country currently building double-deckers.

‘‘I also understand that the manufacturer’s facilities are near the NSW border and 40 per cent of staff are from NSW,’’ she said. ‘‘So we are providing jobs for NSW people and supporting our economy. Of course if the trial of the eight buses is successful we are happy to talk to other companies that may be interested in building these buses.’’

Volgren sales and marketing general manager Tony Kerr said the company could have built them.

‘We have a long history of producing double-decker buses, which run today in Singapore and Hong Kong,’’ he said.

‘‘We are ready, willing and able to build double-decker buses, and would have welcomed the opportunity to tender for the work, which would allow us to showcase our quality product.’’

A Transport for NSW spokesman said a tender process was not required where a bus operator wished to conduct a trial under their service contract with the government.

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