PENINSULA Transport Assist will have its Mornington Peninsula Shire bus contract renewed for a further two years following high customer satisfaction ratings and projected cost savings.
Mornington Peninsula Shire’s sustainable transport project coordinator Rita Kontos, in a report to last week’s council meeting, that an evaluation of community bus hire outsourcing over the past 12 months had proven positive.
Four criteria were used in the assessment: increase in use against previous 12 months; diversity of users (youth, aged, disabled); customer satisfaction, and cost benefits.
Ms Kontas said the shire saved $13,000 by outsourcing the bus hire operations. “Forward projections indicate this amount will increase due to an increase in bookings and a minor increase in bus booking fees,” she said.
The shire leases two community buses for community groups, schools, and not-for-profit organisations to transport clients to activities and services.
A review evaluated the financial and social benefits associated with outsourcing the buses to Peninsula Transport Assist Incorporated (PTA), a registered charity and volunteer assisted community transport organisation.
In February the council voted to accept the recommendations of the review and evaluate results of the trial period. This has just been done.
Ms Kontos said a customer satisfaction survey of 15 user groups – a third of the total – were comfortable with the booking process, ease of pick-ups and drop-offs, and the returns process of keys and the condition reports.
“This result is especially significant in that the shire places a big emphasis on customer satisfaction and it legitimises their original decision to outsource the bus hire operations,” she said.
“The overall usage results indicate that increased demand over the last five months will result in an increase in forward revenue which will positively influence the cost benefits over the next 12 months.
“This projection will further save the shire (and residents) money in the cost of delivering this service to the community.”
Ms Kontos said the PTA’s ability to offer increased services in the form of bus drivers, larger buses and alternative buses when the shire buses were unavailable were further benefits. She said demand for bus drivers was “very high”, with the PTA recruiting drivers to keep up supply.