Sunbus 09 038Transport Minister Rachel Nolan today announced the acquisition of 24 new urban buses to service the Cairns region.

Ms Nolan said the Queensland Government contributed about $4.9 million towards the Transit Australia Group purchase – the parent company that operates the Sunbus brand in Cairns.

“I have made it clear from the start that my priority as Transport Minister is simply to make public transport better – more accessible and sustainable,” she said.

“It is intended that these low-floor, wheelchair accessible, air-conditioned buses will be deployed on the qconnect network.

“Twenty four buses will be deployed in Cairns to service urban areas stretching from Palm Cove in the north, taking in Trinity Beach, Machans Beach through to Cairns City, taking in Lake Placid, Redlynch through to Gordonvale in the south.

Member for Barron River, Steve Wettenhall welcomed the announcement, “All the buses are being built in Queensland by an Australian-owned bus building company and are expected to be progressively rolled in Cairns from next month until June next year,” he said

Mr Wettenhall said the buses would provide additional capacity by replacing smaller sized buses which had a seating capacity of 27 to 29 passengers.

“By contrast, the new buses will have a capacity of between 43 and 57 passengers depending on the size of the new bus,” she said.

“As well as boosting passenger capacity these new buses address issues previously raised about the inefficient air conditioning on some buses in the existing Sunbus fleet.”

Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt said this exciting evolution of the existing fleet was also a timely response to the significant passenger demand experienced in recent years on qconnect networks.

“The level of passenger demand has been further boosted by the introduction of new qconnect fare zones and fares,” he said.

Since 1 July last year, about 2.74 million people have travelled on Cairns qconnect services, an increase of about 9.2 per cent on the previous year.

“This is yet another example of the effectiveness of the Queensland Government’s qconnect initiative to provide improved public transport as well as greater connectivity and accessibility of services throughout regional, rural and remote Queensland,” Mr Pitt said.

“The State is continuing to work with councils and private operators to improve the integration of services, making it easier for passengers to get to their destinations,” Ms Nolan added

“These new buses represent a significant and enduring upgrade to the fleet capacity for the Cairns qconnect urban network.”