by Matt Sweeting, Director of Project Implementation, Transport for NSW
Transport for NSW’s current road maintenance contracts for Sydney will come to an end in mid-2021, with new contracts set to be awarded before the end of this year. Here’s what TfNSW is looking for to ensure the city’s road asset maintenance services are part of a holistic network-based approach.
This is an exciting time to be involved in transport infrastructure across Australia and in NSW. The next edition of the Sydney road maintenance contracts is fixed squarely in that bold landscape.
The contracts, known as the Sydney Roads Asset Performance Contracts, are designed to be forward-thinking, innovative and with a strong focus on the customer.
The vision challenges proponents to adapt to the demands of maintaining thousands of kilometres of state roads, bridges and other assets across Sydney with a set of objectives that help deliver economic growth and sustainability.
It’s very much an evolution, rather than a revolution, on the strong contracts and results from recent years.
Overall customer satisfaction with the road network has remained around 85 per cent for private motor vehicles since the Stewardship Maintenance Contracts were progressively introduced in 2013 and 2014, with the aim of delivering better value for money and improved services for customers.
Efficiencies driven by our contracts have seen savings of more than five per cent and, as part of the contracts, the NSW Government directly or indirectly employs more than 2,000 people.
The journey continues
With the current contracts coming to an end in mid-2021, the next 12 months are critical as Transport for NSW looks to get the contracts awarded before Christmas 2020.
Early on in 2020, organisations can express their interest in being a part of the process. The NSW Government will produce a shortlist of proponents and then issue those shortlisted with requests for tenders.
That means mobilisation of the contracts can start in January 2021, giving service providers six months to prepare to hit the ground running on day one.
But before any of that happens, it’s been important to allow industry to have their say and provide input as part of a conversation.
Engagement sessions have been carried out as an opportunity to present the vision for these contracts to industry, and respond to a whole range of questions on how the process will work.
A network-based approach
Ultimately, the contracts will be part of a holistic network-based approach aimed at improving connectivity, integrating services and making better use of capacity.
The contracts have a central focus on the needs and expectations of customers. Work under the contract should ensure assets operate effectively for the customer and align with the community use of that part of the network.
For example, in a place where people like spending their leisure time, it’s important to focus on the amenity aspects such as grass cutting and graffiti removal. As Transport for NSW addresses how to develop enjoyable places, our maintenance contracts will too.
Contractors will have freedom to innovate within clear guidelines and service standards to ensure the best minds and ideas from government and across industry are applied to our Sydney roads network.
The contracts will encourage innovation – they’re specifically set up to allow more creativity and new ideas – to achieve the strategic outcomes we’ve identified. This will result in intelligence from the private sector benefiting customers, road users and Transport for NSW.
The Concept of Operations for the Greater Sydney Road Network supports a pivot from “road network owner or operator” to an integrated provider of “transport as a service” considering all users and modes of transport.
It establishes customer-focused performance standards for our road network by corridor type (network function), mode, time of day, and day of the week. Every road corridor within Greater Sydney will be classified by its desired or required function by time of day and day of the week.
Global, local, past and future
The vision of the new contracts outline is consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals – making the best use of available resources and assets, and ensuring a resilient transport system that contributes to the NSW Government’s objective of net-zero emissions by 2050.
The goals also inspire the contracts to promote reduced consumption, better environmental outcomes and innovation to deliver asset maintenance services in a sustainable manner.
That includes an integrated approach to addressing issues such as diversity and inclusion, equal opportunities and reduced inequalities.
Transport for NSW also recognises that industry has a role to play in broadening opportunities for Aboriginal people, including through the supply chain of NSW Government contracts.
Under the Aboriginal Participation in Construction policy, a minimum of 1.5 per cent of project spend must be dedicated to Aboriginal participation for construction contracts worth more than $1 million.
There are also mandatory Aboriginal participation requirements to deliver increased employment opportunities for Aboriginal individuals and improved engagement opportunities for Aboriginal businesses.
Effective contract management also relies on good communication based on mutual respect, trust, understanding, openness and accountability.
For example, keeping the relationship between you and your supplier open and constructive, resolving or easing tensions and identifying issues early.
Key values include fairness, integrity, transparency, impartiality, confidentiality, value for money and equality.
Driving it home
The new Service Providers will be asked to produce Tactical Asset Management Plans detailing their routine, pavement, ITS, corridor, bridge and tunnel maintenance works for the next three years.
In developing these tactical plans they will need to use the Concept of Operations to ensure that the works and their outcomes meet social and place-making requirements for the network.
An Industry Briefing was also held on 5 February 2020 – another key part of securing effective Sydney Roads Asset Performance Contracts into the future. With an important 12 months coming up, Transport for NSW would like to thank everyone involved in the process so far.
For more information, and a video interview with Matt Sweeting, visit the website https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/srapc