Busways is a transport solution provider that partners with Government agencies to operate innovative, reliable and flexible public transport services to Australian communities. The company provides school, route and on demand bus services along with expertise in transport operations, scheduling, customer experience, asset management and marketing and communications. An Australian family-owned company, Busways has grown from humble beginnings in 1942, with one car servicing one suburb, to a major transportation service provider delivering over 26 million passenger journeys per year. A focus on customer experience, quality service and employee development, combined with an ongoing commitment to innovation, has been the driving force underpinning this remarkable journey.
In March 2020, Sydney-based Busways was announced as the new bus operator of Adelaide’s Outer South network (covering Lonsdale and Seaford regions) in South Australia. It was the company’s first inter-state expansion and made Busways Australia’s largest privately owned bus operator.
Busways managed a seamless transition of the contract’s 125 buses and two depots and managing the engagement and recruitment of the transferring workforce of 248 personnel while working under the significant impediment of Covid-19 restrictions. Managing change proactively and thoughtfully was a key priority as the transition involved the implementation of new shifts and rosters, training requirements, industrial relations agreements, IT infrastructure and systems, workshops equipment and processes, and a new local and national management team. Importantly, this significant task had to be completed in just four months from contract award to commence service on 5 July 2020.
Busways’ rigorous approach to the project included a suite of tools, a detailed timeline management approach, appointed sub-group accountability and a resourcing strategy leveraging local and remote personnel. The South Australian government was so impressed with Busways plan for managing change while accommodating COVID-19 restrictions that it formed the template for other organisations.
In an environment of transition where staff were concerned about their future, a comprehensive and nuanced approach was required. Busways’ transition strategy was to listen and observe, learn and collaborate, refine and systemise, and negotiate and cooperate, with core change management workstreams across seven disciplines.
Under incredibly difficult conditions, Busways successfully transitioned an enormously complex operation and its extensive infrastructure in just four months despite Covid restrictions. Busways hit the ground running, successfully commencing operation of Outer South in Adelaide in July, with 100% of shifts departing the depots on time still to this day. The key to success was ensuring the company had the right people available at the right time and robust systems and tools to support change management activity.