Moving Australia


The Economy and the Bus Industry

The Economic value of the Australian Bus and Coach Industry


The Australian bus and coach industry is worth more than $10 billion a year to the Australian economy and employs more than 50,000 people. [1] The value of the bus and coach industry is made up of its economic contribution through the economic benefits of passenger transport, tourism and the Australian bus manufacturing sector.

Moving People

The Australian bus and coach industry services more than 1.5 billion passenger trips per year.[2] Buses move more than 6 billion passenger kilometres a year. [3] The total contribution of the bus industry’s passenger transport task can be measured in:

The Bus Industry’s passenger task is expected to double by 2050.

Figure 1: Historical and projected passenger movement, Australian total[4]


What is congestion?

Congestion is the interference between vehicles in the traffic stream and can lead to traffic jams and generally increased travelling times. In 2012 congestion will cost Australia $14 billion in lost productivity.[5]  

Congestion is predicted to cost the Australian economy in excess of $20 billion per year by 2020.[6]

Figure 2: Cost of Congestion by Capital City[7]


A 10 per cent shift to bus patronage from cars would generate[8] :


  • A reduction in passenger kilometres travelled by car of 2.1 billion per year.
  • A reduction in congestion worth almost $650 million a year to the Australian economy.
  • A reduction in the cost of traffic accidents of more than $100 million.
  • Savings to the household of $176 million in fuel costs.
  • A reduction in the health related costs of air pollution of $20 million a year.

Traffic Accidents

The annual economic cost of road crashes in Australia is estimated at $27 billion per annum.[9]

Road crash rates are reduced by:

  • Increased passenger kilometres travelled by public transport.
  • The development of transit oriented communities and locations.
  • Increases in urban density.

The figure below from Todd Litman’s 2010 research indicates that in cities throughout the world, including Australian cities, crash rates are significantly reduced when per capita public transport vehicle kilometres increase.

Figure 3: Traffic Fatalities Versus Per Capita Public Transport Miles Travelled[10]


The cost of road accidents involving cars is estimated at 8.3 cents per vehicle kilometre. The cost of road accidents involving buses is 6.1 cents per vehicle kilometre.[11] These figures suggest that a shift from cars to buses will produce significant savings in road accidents costs to the economy and health system.


The coach sector of the bus industry, comprising long distance, rural, tour, charter and express bus operators contributes more than $5 billion dollars to the Australian economy encompassing almost 16 million nights of tourism enjoyed by almost half a million international and more than 1.5 million domestic travellers. [12]

In the coach sector more than 5,000 coaches are in operation nationally, with a rolling stock value of more than $2 billion. [13]

On average international visitors travelling by coach stay for 26 nights and spend $8,246 on their trip; a contribution of more than $2.3 billion to the Australian economy and international visitors travelling on charter or tour bus services average 11 nights and spend $8,166 on their trip; more than 2.5 million nights of tourism and a contribution of almost $2 billion to the Australian economy spread mostly between the NT, QLD and NSW.[14]


Australia has a vibrant local bus manufacturing sector.

There were more than 7500 new buses delivered to the Australian market in the five years to 2011.This is a turnover of almost $3 billion.[15]

There are almost 10,000 employees in the Australian bus manufacturing sector encompassing tradesmen, technicians and sales and administrative staff.

There are almost 88,000 registered buses in Australia. Of these buses[16] :

  •  62 per cent are small (less than 20 seats)
  • 10 per cent are medium (21-40 seats)
  • 28 per cent are large buses (40+ seats)

More than 90 per cent of registered buses in Australia are manufactured in Australia. Sales are on an upward trend.

Figure 4: Trends in Australian Bus Sales (BIC, 2012)


[1] Bus Industry Confederation, 2010, Industry Survey.

[2] Cosgrove, D. 2011, Long Term Patterns of Australian Public Transport Use,   Australasian Transport Research Forum 2011 Proceedings 28 - 30 September 2011, Adelaide, Australia Publication website:

[3] BITRE, 2010, Research Report 129, "Public transport use in Australia’s capital cities: Modelling and forecasting", page 35

[4] Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics and CSIRO, 2009, Modelling the Road Transport Sector, Treasury, Canberra.

[5]  Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics [BTRE], 2007, Estimating Urban Traffic and Cost Trends for Australian Cities, Working Paper 71, Canberra, ACT.

[6]  Ibid.,

[7] Ibid.,

[8]  CRA International, 2006, Impact on the Australian Economy of Increased Bus Patronage, Kingston, ACT. 

[9]  Australian Transport Council, 2011, National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020, Department of Infrastructure and Transport, ACT.

[10]  Litman, T, 2010. Evaluating  Public Transportation Health Benefits, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, British Columbia.

[11]  Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, 2010, Social Cost of Road Cashes, Australasian Transport Research Forum 2010 proceedings. 

[12]  Tourism Research Australia, 2008, Transport Fact Sheet, Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, Canberra.

[13]  Bus Industry Confederation, 2010, Industry Survey, Bus Industry Confederation of Australia, Canberra

[14]  Tourism Research Australia, 2008, Transport Fact Sheet, Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, Canberra.

[15]  Bus Industry Confederation, 2011, Based on bus sales data recorded in Australasian Bus and Coach Magazine.

[16]  Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011, Survey of Motor Vehicle Use, ABS, Canberra.

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