Keolis is one of the world’s largest and most successful bus and coach operators. It provides services in eight countries with a fleet of more than 23,500 vehicles. The Group’s bus fleet in Sweden runs entirely on alternative fuels and is 100% fossil free. Keolis Downer operates buses, charter and school bus services across 4 states of Australia.

Keolis Downer entered the bus market in Australia in 2015 with the purchase of Australian Transit Enterprises (ATE). Since then Keolis Downer has continued to provide improved bus transport services in South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales.

In Newcastle when starting the contract in 2017, Keolis Downer redesigned the bus network in partnership with Transport for NSW to drive efficiency, customer satisfaction and increase patronage.

More About Keolis Downer

Buses: The Backbone of Multimodality

Keolis Downer is proudly modally agnostic and customer-centric. We know buses are the glue that binds many transport networks and offers a flexible solution that whole networks can adapt to with growth. A highly capable bus network that provides feeder services into the spine of a city’s transport system is fundamental to dynamic networks that serve the needs of customers.

Keolis Downer has identified the opportunity to introduce multimodal public transport contracts to Australia. These contracts, particularly when they involve new transport modes, provide an opportunity to rethink existing networks and deliver new customer outcomes. In Newcastle through the new design of the transport network, Keolis Downer have delivered 23% growth on patronage year on year.

Keolis Downer supports a competitive market for transport service delivery. Competition supports a focus on value for money and customer satisfaction. Broadening the role of private operators helps foster innovation and new ideas. Ownership structure is just one aspect of policy-making. Our view is that if a market is open to competition, we will be keen to participate and put forward our credentials.

Fast Facts & Figures

million passenger journeys a year worldwide
buses worldwide, including 1,600 vehicles using alternative fuels
public and school bus services in Australia in 22 locations

From Lowest Cost to Value for Money

Some public agencies currently perform multiple roles, including operator, regulator, network strategist, contract manager and procurer. Inevitably, this leads to conflicts, and moving some of these roles into the private sector on franchise arrangements can be beneficial. In countries like France, this has been common. Trust is essential for such arrangements, of course, and they will only work with experienced and suitably qualified partners.

Ten important pre-conditions to positive outcomes from franchising*;

  1. Have a clear strategy for transport delivery and the political will to follow through
  2. Have realistic expectations
  3. Be well prepared
  4. Choose the most appropriate franchise structure
  5. Create contestability
  6. Get the contract right
  7. Balance financial and other objectives
  8. Have the right people and skills to manage the relationship effectively
  9. Be flexible and willing to adapt to change
  10. Bring the community along

* These findings are based on our experience in Australia and overseas, and are consistent with research conducted by LEK for the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) in July 2012.

Keolis Downer is committed to competition and to delivering value for money. The potential savings offered by competition in the Australian market have ranged from 20% to 50% of operating costs. However, in mature markets, the rule of diminishing returns indicates that substantial government cost savings can only be achieved through significant changes to the service offer, or service standards.

In these markets, public transport authorities must take a multi-faceted view of value, moving beyond financial efficiency to consider customer service outcomes on an equal pegging. Keolis Downer seeks partnerships with public transport authorities where it is possible to refine the contracting model and deliver a shared vision of the network.

Keolis Downer has identified a deeper model for contracting. This model sees the private operator take greater responsibility for increasing public transport patronage, while at the same time being given the opportunity to tailor services through network design, marketing and product definition. This model has been used in some Australian jurisdictions and is the basis for contracting in some international markets.