Nearing the last days of horse transport, passengers board J. Hill & Co. coaches outside the Windsor Castle Hotel, Franklin Street, Adelaide, about 1903.
Image by Francis Gabriel, courtesy State Library of South Australia

and leads the way in new modes of transport 


ADELAIDE HOSTED THE FIRST ON-ROAD TRIAL IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE OF A DRIVERLESS CAR (2015) and it produced the first wholly Australian-designed, -engineered and -made electric buses for trials on the city's transport network (2017). 

Aside from being the last Australian city to give up on horse-drawn trams (after being the first to adopt them), Adelaide has been a trailblazer in new transport modes. It took on the bicycle revolution from the 1860s-70s with gusto. Its bicycle makers – and its horse-carriage builders – rapidly switched to building motor cars and motor cycles at the turn of the 19th Century. Adelaide became a major centre for car body building until factors such as the Depression and the greater scale of associated American car companies overtook them.

Adelaide motorists led Australia in the rate of ownership of motors cars at the start of the 20th Century just as they have with the proportional takeup of electric cars in their nascent stage in the 21st Century.

South Australia further led the nation in embracing autonomous vehicle technology by introducing Australia's first legislation to allow for on-road trials of autonomous vehicle. In 2018, Adelaide’s world-leading autonomous vehicle technology company Cohda Wireless was able to test two driverless Lincoln MKZ sedans in the city’s CBD.

The fastest (30km/h) driverless vehicle to hit Australia's roads was unveiled in Adelaide in 2018 in a five-year trial to transport university students in the southern suburbs. The Flinders Express shuttles between Flinders University, a train station and Flinders Medical Centre

Also in 2018, Transit Australia Group and French company EasyMile signed an intent with the state government to deliver autonomous vehicles into South Australia and Asia Pacific markets. Transit Australia Group’s would set up a national operations control centre to manage autonomous vehicles in Australia-New Zealand region. Its autonomous electric buses would be built in Adelaide for domestic and export markets.

Partnering with the City of Playford, and using $350,000 from the state government’s Future Mobility Lab Fund, EasyMile would test its autonomous vehicles on northern suburbs roads, leading to shuttle service between Lyell McEwin Hospital, Elizabeth shopping centre, bus and train hubs.



as the colony awaits proper railways network in the 19th Century

Aboriginal network of tracks used, in absence of roads, by first South Australian colonists

Colonel William Light's plan for Adelaide didn’t provide for roads to and from the city square mile and North Adelaide. The first European settlers used much of the well-developed network of tracks used by Aboriginal people because they were the best routes in the absence of roads. Farmers moved their wheat from farm to market and miners their ore from mine to port in bullock drays. Two-wheel drays were manoeuvrable and well suited to rough tracks. But the heaviest dray hauled by four or six bullocks carried only about two-and-a-half tons at four miles per hour. Even after the first few log bridges, travel remained slow and expensive. The European settlers’ earliest transport corridors were from the city to Glenelg and Port Adelaide where ships carried most goods and people. On Light’s original 1836-7 map, there were only four roads out of North Adelaide across the parklands. The 1839 Arrowsmith map of Adelaide district shows more roads but, until the late 1850s, they were little more than dirt tracks. Until 1878, there was no public transport in the city or between the city and suburbs. Private transport services were too costly for most citizens. Transport was easy for the wealthier who owned riding horses or a horse and carriage or workers who used them in employment. Some city hotels provided coach services to the inner suburbs and even to McLaren Vale. The Royal Admiral Hotel ran a service from Hindley Street to Port Adelaide from the early 1840s and there was a regular service between the Red Lion Hotel in Rundle Street and the Rising Sun Inn in Kensington from 1849. 

South Australia's only toll, on road to Mount Barker, survives for a few years in the 1840s

The toll house at Glen Osmond was built in 1841 to collect fees to fund a road linking Adelaide and Mount Barker. For generations before Adelaide was founded, Aboriginal people had travelled the gentle slope of Glen Osmond. With European settlement, it became the favourite track between Adelaide plains and agricultural land to east of the Hills. Early Mount Barker settlers agitated for a road to replace dangerous track used by drays and wagons going to Adelaide markets. In 1841, governor George Gawler paid 200 men at British crown expense to turn it into the Great Eastern Road. This went against the orders of the South Australian colonial commissioners in London that settlers had to pay for all infrastructure. Work was about three quarters complete when Gawler was replaced by governor George Grey, who immediately halted the unauthorised project. With Mount Barker settlers angry, Grey created a trust, comprising all JPs and 25 landowners who would benefit from the road, to finance it through a toll. A small hexagonal building at Glen Osmond, with a garden, housed the tollkeeper. The tolls didn’t even cover road maintenance. After a year, the trustees were £1,179 in debt. The toll was generally unpopular, especially with struggling farmers. Grey bought out the trustees with land grants in 1844 but he kept the toll and auctioned the right to be toll collector. Samuel Davenport successfully argued in the Legislative Council in 1847 for an end to South Australia’s only toll road. Since the trustees’ had departed, tolls collected were £742 while road maintenance cost £3,739.


The 'mosquito fleet' of ketches vital to South Australia's earliest city-country colonial trade

A “mosquito fleet” of mainly ketches was integral, essential and unique to South Australia's early transport history. The small vessels (ketches, schooners, cutters) were the only link between city and country before road and rail arrived. They carried grain and minerals to the city and anything from machinery to groceries to rural ports. The fast and handy ketch adopted in South Australia was a shallow-draught rigged sailing ship, sailed by a small crew (three being common). Most ketches came from timber-rich Tasmania, where they varied Thames barges with centre boards instead of lee boards, and had a large sail area across multiple sails. The wooden ketches were flat bottomed, for South Australia’s shallow tidal gulf ports. The ketches benefited from factors such as the 1860-75 Wallaroo and Moonta copper mines boom and the breakup of large pastoral properties on the peninsulas that increased settlements, ports and landing places. Railways before 1879 were eight unconnected systems linking inland regions to the coast. During the 1880s-90s peak, more than 70 ketches and schooners traded out of Port Adelaide. The smaller ketches became the Gulf Fleet, trading in St Vincent's Gulf.  The larger and more seaworthy Coastal Fleet went all over South Australia and interstate. They also worked the grain ports in Spencer Gulf and joined up with windjammers at Port Victoria and the other larger ports. Rail and road competition cut the ketches fleet in the 20th Century but six still operated in 1970: motor vessels Accolade, Troubridge, Ulonga and Nelcelbee, and sailing ships One and All and the Falie.


South Australia starts River Murray steamers with William Randell's Mary Ann in 1853

South Australia started the use of the River Murray and the Murray-Darling basin as a transport system for trade, with paddle steamers, in the early 1850s. South Australian governor Henry Young decided, with the young colony struggling from the impact of gold rushes in Victoria and New South Wales in 1851, to secure it a stake in the inland trade. He offered £4000 for the first two boat owners to navigate the Murray from its mouth to the Darling junction in iron-clad steamers of not less than 40 horsepower and drawing not more than 61cm of water when laden. William Randell, who came to South Australia from England as a 13 year old with his family in 1837, had got to know the lower end of the Murray River and experienced steam power at his father’s flour mill at Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills. Excited by stories of fortunes made by taking supplies to the goldfields, Randell and his brothers Thomas and Elliott began building a steamboat in 1852, even though none of them had seen a paddle steamer. They carefully selected timber around Gumeracha and prefabricated the boat’s hull that they carted by bullock wagon, in sections, 48 kilometres across the Adelaide Hills and the Murray flats to the riverbank, where they put it together, at Noa-No, a few kilometres upstream from the present town of Mannum. The boat, named Mary Ann after their mother, and was powered by “a fearsome wood-burning engine of 8 horsepower” built by German engineer Claus Gehikin in Hindmarsh, Adelaide. Randell became the first to put a steamboat on the River Murray with a trial run of the Mary Ann in 1853.

William Randell, Francis Cadell in 1853 steamboat race up Murray, opening the way for river trade

The second steamboat captain – after William Randell in his Mary Ann ­– on the River Murray was Francis Cadell, who'd spent many years at sea and studied river navigation in the USA. He wanted to win the South Australian government’s £4000 bonus for the first two boat owners to navigate the Murray from its mouth to the Darling junction in iron-clad steamers. Cadell first sailed down the Murray from Swan Hill in a small boat to check the river could be navigated by a larger vessel. He commissioned a Sydney shipyard to build an 80-ton 32-metre vessel with two engines each 20 horsepower. At Goolwa on the Murray mouth, he built a barge, the Eureka, to carry 100 tons of cargo. When completed, the Sydney vessel was sailed to Goolwa. Cadell named it the Lady Augusta, after the South Australian governor's wife, and he invited distinguished guests on the maiden river voyage that started at Goolwa in August 1853. Not far past Murrumbidgee junction, Lady Augusta passed Randell’s smaller Mary Ann. The Lady Augusta arrived in Swan Hill 23 days after leaving Goolwa, a few hours ahead of the Mary Ann. The Mary Ann took the lead, with Gannawarra being Cadell’s end point. Randell went on to Maiden’s Punt (later Echuca), 1068 miles from Goolwa. Neither Mary Ann nor Lady Augusta met conditions for the government bonus but, while Randell received £300, the full prize went to Cadell. Cadell formed the River Murray Navigation Co. and Randell secured backing for his Murray River Company. They were part of rapid growth of river trade, moving key commodities such as wool.

Bullocks giving way to horses: James Chalmers runs Adelaide city's first cab and cart to the Port

Bullocks had their heyday in South Australian transport when the Burra copper mines, discovered in 1845, needed them to pull 600 creaking drays. In winter, the drays' heavy wheels sank into the soft ground and two extra bullocks were needed to haul a reduced load. It took bullock teams a three-week round trip to reach Port Adelaide. When Port Wakefield, opened in 1850, and the railway to Kapunda opened in 1860, bullockies quickly chose those shorter routes. James Chambers provided the colony's first public conveyance: a spring cart drawn by two horses taking people to and from Port Adelaide. He also owned the colony’s first cab from a stand in Hindley Street. Chalmers later ran coaches to Gawler and, in 1846, started a service to Burra’s “monster mine”, with passengers staying the night at Calton's Old Spot Hotel in Gawler. In the late 1850s, South Australia had its first hansom cabs (two-seat enclosed carriage with a driver outside on a high seat at the back). Unlike Sydney where hansoms were very popular, in Adelaide they were generally considered  “unholy” because they gave flirtatious couples privacy and were to be avoided by “any young man of character …wary of coquetting with ill-fame”. Instead, Adelaide’s most common cab was the four-wheeled six-passenger waggonette, with a box seat for the driver and ample room for luggage. Other cabs – more like carts; rickety, dirty and open to wet weather –  were available to take on the difficult access to the city across deep creeks that could be crossed only via slippery logs and fords.

Thomas Elder makes first mass import of camels to Australia to link his pastoral empire

Adelaide’s Thomas Elder arranged the first mass import of camels into Australia in 1865 to cart supplies between the huge network of outback pastoral properties he started with partner Robert Barr Smith in the outback extremes of South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia. South Australia’s first camel had arrived at Port Adelaide in 1840 but was shot in 1846 after it caused the death of explorer John Horrocks. The push for camels to be imported continued but a Camel Troop Carrying Company was unable to get government funding in 1858. Elder, who saw camels as the answer to the outback transport, sent Samuel Stuckey to India in 1862 to look for camels, and chartered the Blackwall in 1865 to load camels at Kurrachee in India. The first 121 camels landed at Port Augusta in 1866 and went to Elder’s Umberatana station before his Beltana Station in the Flinders Ranges became a centre for camel breeding. Thirty-one “Afghans”  arrived with the camels to manage them. Soon, camels and their drivers were transporting materials and supplies to Elder's stations at Blanchewater and Murnpeowie. For the next 50 years, studs bred a camel superior to the thousands imported. Camels also were vital to opening vast parts of arid inland Australia. Explorers such as Ernest Giles used them, as did  J.W. Lewis, surveying north east of Lake Eyre in 1874-75. A hundred camels were used for the Adelaide-to Darwin telegraph line in 1872. Rail and road superseded camels in the 20th Century when many were released into the outback where they have bred up to numbers estimated to be near a million.

Bicycles banned from Adelaide footpaths in 1874 as the popularity of cycling sweeps the city

Bicycles were so popular in Adelaide by 1874 that they were banned from footpaths. South Australia first experienced North American and European velocipedes or “boneshakers" in the 1860s. After the penny farthings, the first safety bicycle – smaller wheels and pneumatic tyres – arrived in the 1880s. Penny-farthing riders formed racing and recreational clubs, with members wearing military-like uniforms. By 1888, Adelaide had four racing clubs, including the South Australia Bicycle Club and the Norwood Cycling Club. The cycling craze grew in the 1890s many clubs affiliated with South Australia League of Wheelmen, including Adelaide, Arid, Gawler, Norwood, Great Northern, Mount Gambier, Naracoorte, North Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Railway, Holdfast Bay, Northern Areas, Red Bird, Jamestown, South Australian, Mannum, Parkside, Southern Districts, Melrose and West Torrens. The League of Wheelmen’s magazine, the SA Cyclist, started in 1896, described social cycling events such as the Monster Cycle Parade to Henley Beach in May 1897 involved 11 clubs and visitors.Cyclists left in club order from North Terrace, Adelaide, at 2.45. Sports at the beach included tug of war. Tea at 5pm was a shilling a head. A hall was booked for an evening of music. North Adelaide club’s annual strawberry picnic involved a run from North Adelaide via Norwood to Glen Osmond and then to Smiths Garden. A paper chase in 1897 took in Gilberton, Medindie, Botanic Park, Norwood and Marryatville.

John Hill & Co., largest of Adelaide horse coach firms, as railways and motor cars arrive

John Hill & Co. was Australia’s largest and oldest surviving horse-coaching transport company by the end of the 19th Century, with 1000 horses used daily in its peak year. John Hill began work in the goods department of his father’s business, Henry Hill & Co, that had a South Australian Railways contract. In 1866, John Hill was put in charge when the South Australian independent affiliate of Cobb & Co. bought the stagecoach business from 1844 of Willliam “Ben” Rounsevell. Cobb & Co. sold this business, in 1873, to John Hill & Co., owned by Hill, Henry Fuller and George Mills. In 1882, the firm, based on Pirie Street, Adelaide, was restructured as John Hill & Co. Ltd as it expanded but it was always only a few years ahead of railways on the most profitable long routes. Initially, the company ran Serpent buses between Adelaide and Kensington then took over Mr McDonald's Rose and Shamrock Scotch coaches traversing Glenelg Road (later Anzac Highway) where “the traffic became so great that 20 coaches per day were required to cope with it”. The longest northern route went to Yudnamatana, via Kapunda, Melrose and Nuccaleena, where a packhorse completed the final 100 miles of a 400-miles journey. After seven years as a railways commissioner, in 1888, Hill returned to manage Hill & Co. and, with former competitor Henry Graves, founded Hill, Graves & Co., in 1911, with a huge stone bulk store at Port Adelaide, and Australia’s largest stables in Pirie and Grenfell streets. The company ceased trading in 1920 but with the business rationalised as H. Graves & Co.


overtaken in 20th Century by competition from road transport 

Australia's first public iron railway, horse-drawn, from Goolwa, services river trade

The Goolwa-Port Elliot railway, from 1854, was the first railway in South Australia – and Australia’s first public iron railway, although horse-drawn, single track and only seven miles long. A railway (or canal) had been first proposed in 1849 to carry River Murray cargo to ships berthed at Port Elliot, avoiding the treacherous  river mouth. Governor Henry Young strongly advocated steam navigation on the Murray and harbour master Thomas Lipson praised the harbour at Port Elliot, preferring it to Victor Harbor. Adelaide and Port Adelaide businesses were strongly against this, believing they would lose trade. Steam navigation of the river by William Randell and Francis Cadell in 1853 hastened the rail project and, despite labour and materials shortages, it went ahead and was finished in 1854. Goods from river properties could now be offloaded at Goolwa, transported by rail to Port Elliot, and shipped to the world. Port Elliot’s lack of shelter and shallow anchorage, with seven ships wrecked between 1853 and 1864, meant the port was moved to Victor Harbor with the rail line extended. The broad gauge line was extended north from Middleton to Strathalbyn in 1869. Two horses at a time, changing at intermediate stations, continued to pull trains on the line until 1884. Records from 1875 show 29 horses travelling 7000 miles a month. The Adelaide-Morgan rail line opened in 1878 but 28,000 bales of wool were still shipped from Goolwa that year. A steam railway line from Adelaide to Strathalbyn was completed in 1884. Steam locomotion replaced horses pulling the train to Victor Harbor in 1885.

Adelaide to Port, first government-owned steam railway in British empire, starts network

The 12km broad-gauge railway between Adelaide and Port Adelaide, opened in 1856, was the first government-built and -owned steam railway in the British empire. By 1860, a railway had been built to Kapunda where copper was first discovered in 1843 – and it soon became South Australia’s largest wheat receiving station. An extension, branching off at Roseworthy, was completed in 1870 to serve mines at Burra. The Kapunda line was then pushed through to Morgan to capture Murray River paddle steamer trade from upstream. During the 1870s, South Australian rail lines were short and disconnected, built from wheat-growing areas to the nearest port such as Port Broughton to Mundoora (horse drawn), Port Pirie to Crystal Brook and Port Wakefield to Balaklava, Port Augusta to Quorn, Port Pirie to Peterborough, Port Broughton to Mundoora, Wallaroo to Snowtown, Port Wakefield to Hoyleton, Goolwa to Strathalbyn, Kingston to Naracoorte, Beachport to Mount Gambier. Surveyor general George Goyder influenced the policy to link all lines into a network centred on Adelaide during the last 20 years of the century, even though all lines except Adelaide to Terowie were narrow gauge.  In 1865, Goyder also had declared the north-south limit of rainfall reliable enough for cropping. The Great Northern Railway, built from Port Augusta to Quorn in 1879, reaching Marree in 1883, and Oodnadatta in 1891, went far before above that line. The same applied to lines in mallee country to the east and the Eyre Peninsula lines, starting with the link between Port Lincoln and Cummins in 1907.

Port Pirie-to-Cockburn line most significant of 19th Century South Australian rail links

Mining and agriculture pushed the colony’s government, with its South Australian Railways corporation formed in 1854, to build lines from Adelaide into country areas. By 1860, a railway had been built to Kapunda where copper was first discovered in 1843 and it became the colony’s biggest wheat receiving station. A line branching off at Roseworthy was completed in 1870 to serve mines at Burra. The Kapunda line was pushed through to Morgan to capture Murray River paddle steamer trade. This affected the need for the Goolwa-to-Victor Harbor line. Early short lines such as Port Broughton-Mundoora (horse drawn), Port Pirie-Crystal Brook and Port Wakefield-Balaklava were built to the nearest port. During the 1880s, the system was centralised and all lines, except for Eyre Peninsula, linked to Adelaide. To serve mining and pastoral needs, the Great Northern Railway was built from Port Augusta to Quorn in 1879, reaching Marree (1883) and Oodnadatta (1891). The Port Pirie-to-Cockburn line, completed in 1886, was a great South Australian Railways achievement. It transported ore from Broken Hill mines to the Port Pirie smelter and opened the vast northeast of the colony.  A line through the Adelaide Hills opened to Aldgate in 1883 and extended to Nairne (1883) and Bordertown (1886). In 1887, the Adelaide-Melbourne Intercolonial Express was the first inter-capital journey without a change of trains at a break-of-gauge station.


South Australian rail broad-narrow-broad swap adds to state's three-gauge confusion

South Australia became the epicentre of the Australia’s problem with railway line gauges’ three sizes: broad, narrow and standard. By 1917, South Australia had lines with the three different gauges. The Irish broad gauge was initially adopted by South Australia, along with Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. New South Wales’ lone choice, to use European standard gauge, meant a disjointed national link. But South Australia created its own disconnect between broad and narrow gauges. It started with broad gauge for lines out of Adelaide and the railway between Adelaide and Melbourne (1887). Broad gauge tracks could carry trains at higher speeds and greater comfort for passengers than narrower gauges but they were more expensive. This cost factor influenced South Australia to follow Queensland and switch to narrow gauge. Port Wakefield line (opened in 1870) changed from broad to narrow gauge while being built. Because narrow gauge started on isolated lines from independent ports at Port Wakefield, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Port Broughton, Beachport, Kingston SE, Wallaroo and a private tramway from Whyalla, the problems of disconnected gauges were not immediately apparent. But when the broad and narrow systems met at Hamley Bridge, Terowie, Wolseley and Mount Gambier, complaints started. Longer lines to Cockburn (on the South Australia-NSW border) and Alice Springs were also narrow gauge. As it was realised that lightly-laid narrow lines couldn’t support large tonnages, South Australia stared converting to broad gauge. 

William Webb brings big locos, modernises South Australian rail systems, Islington workshops

William Webb, the American appointed South Australian railways commissioner by the state government in 1922 to revive the system from the brink of collapse, brought in an era of big power. In 1926, two 500 class Mountain locomotives – the strongest in Australia – were unloaded at Port Adelaide. Within 10 years, a fleet of large modern locomotives had been imported or built at the South Australian Railways’ modernised Islington Workshops. Webb's program also included larger freight vehicles, new and stronger bridges, diesel railcars, expanded Islington workshops, duplicated tracks and modern depots. Converting narrow gauge lines to broad gauge began throughout the mid-north in the 1920s to carry much larger trains. Road delivery vans and trucks, to compete with the private sector, new administrative procedures, refreshment services, train control, the South Australian Railways Institute and electric signalling were other Webb innovations. Besides the Islington railway workshops being modernised, a large new round house was built at Mile End, near Adelaide, and turntables were installed to handle larger locomotives. Webb also saw the beginning of the end of the steam era. In 1924, he introduced Model 55 rail cars, known as tin hares, built by the Brill Company in the USA for country services where passenger numbers were too low to justify steam trains. A single Model 75 rail car arrived . in 1926 and others were built at Islington. The “Barwell Bulls”, as they were nicknamed (after premier Henry Barwell), mostly operated over country branch lines until 1971.

End of South Australian Railways country trains with federal takeover; a win for road transport

After American commissioner William Webb left in 1930, the old hierarchy returned to the South Australian Railways and dismantled his reforms. But railways were struggling against other forces that were eroding their freight and passenger numbers. In the 1930s, the state government had stemmed one threat to railways through the Road and Railways Transport Act that imposed costs on road transport freight carriers. That act was repealed in 1963. Meanwhile, rising car ownership was cutting the number of passengers using trains. South Australian Railways commissioner Ron Fitch warned of the mounting financial losses. To arrest declining passenger numbers in the 1950s-60s, airconditioned Bluebird rail cars were introduced on country services in 1954 and, next year, Red Hen rail cars began operating on Adelaide suburban lines. The last steam engines ran in South Australia in 1970, ending a history that began in 1856 at the Port Dock station at Port Adelaide. In 1975, South Australian Railways was sold to a federal government agency and all its country passenger services ended. In 1978, Commonwealth Railways, South Australian Railways and the Tasmanian Government Railways merged to form Australian National railways. Australian National took over operating all federal and non-urban South Australian railway lines. The State Transport Authority of South Australia (later TransAdelaide) was created to run all Adelaide suburban rail lines for the state government.

South Australian rail freight and interstate passenger services privatised in 1990s

After its takeover of South Australia’s railways (except the Adelaide suburban services run by the state government), the Australian federal government moved towards privatise those assets int the early 1990s by creating National Rail. This started the era of private rail companies running their own trains over commercial, state or federal government-owned tracks. In 1997, private company Great Southern Rail took charge of ex-Australian National passenger services, while Australia Southern Railroad (now Genesee & Wyoming Australia) took over Australian National’s locomotives, wagons and branch lines. Great Southern Rail (a consortium including British GN Railways, Legal & General, Macquarie Bank, RailAmerica) brought The Ghan, Indian Pacific and The Overland (Adelaide-Melbourne) interstate train services out of Adelaide. The deal included mainly stainless steel carriages and the Adelaide Mile End and Alice Springs stations. While The Ghan and Indian-Pacific are profitable, The Overland has been subsidised by the Victorian state government since South Australian government's stopped its subsidy in 2018. Genesee & Wyoming Australia (a subsidiary of the the American/international Genessee & Wyoming and Australia’s Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets) provides the locomotives for the passenger services plus its extensive freight haul interests in South Australia and interstate. In 2019, American-Canadian company Viterra, that runs most of South Australia’s silos, didn't renew its contract with Genesee and Wyoming that had been moving 30-40% of its grain on Eyre Peninsula.

Six Adelaide suburban train services tagged for privatisation by state government in 2019

Adelaide’s suburban network – Belair, Gawler, Grange, Outer Harbor, Seaford and Tonsley lines –  were the part of South Australian railways operated by the state government up to 2019 when it announced plans to privatise the system. The network, run by the transport, planning and infrastructure department through Adelaide Metro, has 81 stations. Only the Seaford and Tonsley lines (with Gawler next) are electrified. In the leadup to South Australian Railways being sold as an entity to the federal government’s Australian National in 1978, country services operating from Adelaide were lost, including: Bute-Moonta, Port Pirie Junction, Hamley Bridge-Balaklava, Blyth-Wilmington, Riverton-Terowie, Kapunda-Robertstown, Nuriootpa-Truro, Murray Bridge-Wailerie, Naracoorte, Kingston SE, Mount-Barker-Milang, Morphett Vale-Willunga. Australia National’s longer-distance trains continued to use Adelaide station for several years until its Keswick passenger terminal opened in 1984. Adelaide station, now only serving suburban trains, saw big changes in 1985-87 with the Adelaide Station and Environs Redevelopment (ASER) refurbishing much of its exterior and converting the interior to a casino, building the-then Hyatt Regency hotel over its northern end and removing platforms 12 and 13. The track layout in the station yard was modified with new signals in 1987-88 with a new control centre overlooking the railcar depot and station. The railcar depot was moved to Dry Creek in 2008 to make way for the new Royal Adelaide Hospital and signal controls also moved to Dry Creek in 2018.

Adelaide's horse trams Australia's first – and last; run by private firms from the 1870s

Adelaide was the first Australian city to have horse trams and the last to discard them. South Australia’s first horse tram was used in 1855 on the Goolwa-Port Elliot rail line but the wider impetus came in the 1870s when Edwin Smith and William Buik, of Kensington and Norwood Corporation but both later mayors of Adelaide, inspected tramways in Europe. Back in Adelaide, they promoted the concept leading to a prospectus being issued for the Adelaide and Suburban Tramway Co.. Despite Adelaide council objections over licensing and control, the South Australian government was lobbied by private commercial interests to pass an act in 1876 for a horse tram network. Services began in 1878 from Adelaide to Kensington Park, with trams from John Stephenson Co. of New York. Until 1907, private companies ran all horse tram service with the government authorising the building of lines. Adelaide and Suburban Tramway Co. started with six trams, expanding to 90 and 650 horses by 1907 with its own tram-building factory at Kensington. Eleven companies were operating within six years but three failed before constructing tracks. The Adelaide-North Adelaide line opened in 1878, one from Port Adelaide to Albert Park in 1879, Adelaide to Mitcham and Hindmarsh in 1881, Walkerville 1882, Burnside, Prospect, Nailsworth, Enfield in 1883 and Maylands 1892. There were 74 miles of tramlines with 1062 horses and 162 cars by 1901 with isolated lines from Port Adelaide to Albert Park and Glenelg to Brighton  Most streets with trams were unsealed to absorb the horses’ urine and give hooves traction.

Government buys all of Adelaide horse trams in 1906; forms MTT to run electric trams network

By 1901, Adelaide’s horse trams were a blot on the city. They were too slow and small for a population of 162,000. The unsealed roads needed were either quagmires or dustbowls where each horse left 10 pounds of manure daily. The first experiment with electric-powered trams was on an Adelaide and Hindmarsh company’s tram to Henley Beach with “Julien’s Patent Electric Traction” in 1889. The trial was ended by the fitted batteries’ poor capacity and the promoter’s deaths in a level-crossing accident. Commercial interests pursued government support for electric tramways. Most influential was Francis H. Snow, largely on behalf of London companies British Westinghouse and Callender’s Cable Construction. His scheme involved buying major horse tramways and merging them into an electric tramway company with 21 years exclusive running rights. Laws for this scheme were passed in 1901 and a referendum held in 1902 but the required funds had been spent and the scheme collapsed. Adelaide’s council proposed its own scheme backed by different companies but it couldn't raise the capital and J.H. Packard promoted plans that went no further. Under pressure, the government negotiated with the horse tramway companies and in 1906 announced its takeover of all tramways for £280,000. The government created the Municipal Tramways Trust (MTT) to build electric tramways. The government’s purchase included 162 trams, 22 other vehicles and 1056 horses.  Buying the tramways was funded by treasury bills and construction costs capped at £12,000 per mile of track. 

End of the line for the tram network in 1958 after MTT's big losses and royal commission

In 1945, Adelaide's Municipal Tramways Trust trams operator was collecting fares for 95 million trips annually, representing 295 trips per head of population. But in 1951-52, the MTT lost £313,320 and it decided to convert the Erindale, Burnside and Linden Park tram lines to electric trolleybuses. The last trams ran in 1952 on these lines that were pulled out in 1953. A 1953 royal commission inquired into the MTT’s finances, resulting in a completely new board being appointed. Late that year, with concerns about the clash of trams with increasing traffic on the road, the Glen Osmond line was temporarily converted to motor buses. The line was never converted back to trams. The Glenelg line, with its Type H trams, was the only survivor of the ongoing closure of the Adelaide tram network. An F1 Type tram (with the F the most common used in Adelaide) was the last to see service on the rest of the main Adelaide street tramway system. F1 Car 269 made the final run to Cheltenham and return in November 1958. Trolley buses also gradually made way for motor buses in July 1963. Except for the Glenelg Type H, all the trams were sold or scrapped. Some were used as shacks, playrooms or preserved by museums such the one at St Kilda. In 1975, the services of the MTT became the bus and tram division of State Transport and the MTT ceased to exist.

Glenelg line extended in 2007 but trams ADELink halted and privatisation announced in 2019

Glenelg line remained Adelaide’s only tramway from 1958 until 2007 when it was extended from Victoria Square in the city to North Terrace and onto the Adelaide Entertainment Centre at Hindmarsh, in 2009. Sections down to Adelaide Festival Centre/Adelaide Oval from King William Street and from Adelaide Railway Station eastward down North Terrace to the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site were added in 2018. Government proposals back to 2013 envisaged an AdeLINK tram network to include: • CityLINK –  a loop along the Morphett Street, Sturt Street, Halifax Street and Frome Street. • PortLINK – converting Outer Harbor train line to a tram to Outer Harbor, Port Adelaide and Grange, and tram lines to West Lakes and Semaphore • EastLINK − a tram line along The Parade, Norwood, to Magill. • WestLINK –  along Henley Beach Road to Henley Square, with a branch to Adelaide Airport. The line to Glenelg would be part of WestLINK • ProspectLINK − from Grand Junction Road along Prospect Road and O’Connell Street • UnleyLINK –along Unley Road and Belair Road to Mitcham. Six French-made Alstom Citadis model 302 trams  from Madrid in 2017 added to the German Bombadier Flexity Classics that replaced Type H trams on Glenelg line in 2006. The Liberal state government elected in 2018 put AdeLINK plans on hold. It also was unable to fulfil a promised right-hand turn from King William Street, Adelaide, for the tram running down the eastern end of North Terrace, Adelaide. In 2019, the government announced plans to privatise the trams along with Adelaide suburban trains network.


with registration, number plates and genesis of RAA soon in play

South Australia leads other Australian states in adopting motor cars, especially in the 1920s

South Australia took up the motor cars quicker than other Australian states. By 1921, there were 24 motor vehicles (excluding motorcycles) per 1000 South Australians. Victoria, with 16 per 1000, was next in Australia. Some initial antagonism was directed at cars’ noise and smell scaring horses, still the main means of transport.  Speeding cars also threw up dust. But cars were rapidly appreciated by groups such as farmers in reducing isolation and medical practitioners for speedy house calls. The Automobile and Motor Cycle Club of South Australia (later to become the RAA, Royal Automobile Association), formed in 1903, boosted motoring and a framework for competitions. Hill climbs and reliability trials were favoured over racing, and were strongly supported by the Lewis Cycle and Motor Works. Vivian Lewis, Tom O'Grady, Bill Courtney and Murray Aunger were regular competitors from among its staff, while Norman Jackson and master builder Walter Torode were keen early competitors on Lewis motorcycles. Lewis Cycle and Motor Works also ran hire cars. Newspapers reported in 1905 that, “following the practice that has been adopted in some Government departments, (the Premier) engaged a 12hp De Dion Bouton motor car from Mr V. Lewis' establishment” to visit the ailing former attorney-general in Mount Barker 22 miles away. This was praised as efficient use of the premier’s time compared to using a train. Lewis hire cars also provided sightseeing tours of the hills or to visits to country shows and race meetings. The cars’ general impact on South Australians began in the 1920s. American cars, such as the Model T Ford, became more practical and cheaper but remained the preserve of the affluent. Motor cycles with sidecars were common.

Dr John Gunson No.3 in first South Australian car owners; a founder of what became the RAA

John Gunson (registration plate No.3) was one of a clutch of doctors among Adelaide’s first car owners. Dr. Gunson was a founding member of Automobile and Motor Cycling Club of South Australia in 1903 and a life member of what became the Royal Austomobile Association (RAA). Born at Angas Street, Adelaide, in the house where his father, Dr. J. M. Gunson, had practised, John Gunson graduated in medicine from Adelaide University in 1893, after earlier education at Christian Brothers’ College, Adelaide, and in Paris. Dr. Gunson was one of the first men to use X-ray apparatus at the Adelaide Children's Hospital where he was honorary physician more than 25 years. He was also honorary assistant physician at Adelaide Hospital (1909-16) and honorary consulting obstetrician at the Queen's Home, Adelaide. As honorary secretary of the South Australian branch of the British Medical Association, he arranged the association’s congress in Adelaide in 1905. Also heading the list of first South Australian car registrants were: 1 –  Hargreaves, W.A. Woodville;  2 – Waite, Peter Glen Osmond;  4  – Cudmore, Dr. A.M. North Terrace;  5 –  Swift, Dr. H. Victoria Square; 6  – Ayers, F.G. Waymouth Street;  7  – Morgan, Dr. A.M. Angas Street;  8 –  Ayers, A.E. King William Street;  9 – Waterhouse, A. East Terrace; 10 – Rymill, E.S. East Terrace;  11 – Rymill, A.G. Glenelg;  12 –  McFarlane, A. Wellington East;  13-14 –  Lendon, Dr. A.A. North Terrace;  15  – Harris, F.J. Gawler ; 16 – Florey, J. Malvern; 17 Smith, T.E. Barr Currie Street; 18  – Scarfe, A.A. Burnside; 19 –  Marsden, Dr. W.C. Willunga; 20  – Meikle, Dr. A.J. Yankalilla.

South Australia first Australian state with car registration in 1906; plates become valued

South Australia brought in Australia’s first motor vehicle registration and licensing during 1906. In 1904, with the first “mechanically propelled vehicles” on Adelaide streets, the Motor Traffic Regulation Act had been legislated. By 1910, 1350 cars (and many motor cycles) were registered. Registration plates were first issued in South Australia in 1906 for three classes of vehicles: motorcycles, motor vehicles and trailers. This led to historic plates, with the same number, on each of these three classes. Thus No.1and so on was issued to a car, motorcycle and trailer, at the same time. Unlike the United Kingdom, historic plates could be transferred by registered owners from vehicle to new vehicle. Owners could retain their historic number and transfer it to a new car off an old one or they could transfer the historic number to a new owner when a car was sold. This has led to generations of family members retaining their historic plates. This changed with new rules around the alpha numeric plates in 1966 (starting with RAA-000). The ability to transfer and retain a plate off a car was ended and new cars were issued with new plates. The 1985 historic plate auction changed the rules again, with plate owners needing to get “proprietary rights” to a number to transfer it from car to car or from owner to owner. “SA” became mandatory on South Australia’s number plates in 1931 to distinguish from other states’. Before this, vehicle owners supplied their own plates with no set design or type. Some were painted onto radiators, some were affixed to wood blocks and some cars had elaborate cut-and- polished plates.



as buses become the first part of public transport to be privatised

Sylvia Birdseye becomes a legendary driver of early South Australian country bus services

Legendary South Australian bus driver Sylvia Birdseye introduced a vital overland mail and passenger service between Eyre Peninsula and Adelaide in 1928 and drove about four million miles during 43 years behind the wheel. Born near Port Augusta as daughter of stationhand Charles De Witt Merrill and his wife Elizabeth. Her parents were friends of the family of Alfred Birdseye, who’d started South Australia’s first bus service: Adelaide to Mannum. When the Birdseyes moved to Adelaide in 1919, Sylvia, aged 19, followed them to work in the Birdseye office. She soon learned, along with Alfred Birdseye’s daughter Gladys, to drive Birdseye buses. After three years, she became the first woman in South Australia to gain a commercial driver’s licence. In 1923, Sylvia married Alfred Birdseye’s son Sydney, who drove his father’s buses while studying automotive engineering. When Alfred sold the Adelaide to Mannum service in 1926, Sydney and Sylvia started a service from Adelaide to Port Augusta, extended to Port Lincoln in 1933, Streaky Bay in 1938 and eventually Ceduna. For many on Eyre Peninsula, Sylvia’s bus runs were the only real link with the outside.  Early Eyre Peninsula roads were often just horse tracks and buses before World War II were standard motor cars with extended bodies.Sylvia Birdseye earned repute for driving skill and toughness: wearing overalls, she changed her own tyres, did most bus repairs, and negotiated the toughest creek crossings and sand banks. She drove around 3000 kilometres a week, tackling floods and the hardships of the Depression and World War II. Sylvia never ceased mourning the death of her husband Sydney in 1954, and eight years later, before heading to Port Lincoln, she suffered a fatal stroke.

MTT tries trolley buses as competition mounts; finances halt Adelaide tram line extensions

From 1915, the South Australian government's Municipal Tramways Trust (MTT) had to compete against unregulated private buses that often travelled ahead of the trams on the same route to steal fares. The MTT countered by opening its own motor bus routes from 1925. The South Australian government began regulating buses within the state in 1927 but some private operators used a line in the Australian Constitution to their advantage. By notionally marking each ticket as a fare from the pickup point to Murrayville, Victoria (but allowing passengers to board or alight sooner) companies avoided having to abide by the regulation. Up until the end of World War I, most Adelaideans depended on public transport for daily journeys but the growth of private cars decreased passenger numbers. The MTT tried novel enterprises to bring in revenue. In 1929, tram cars 274 and 275 were fitted with additional air brake pipes to allowing them to haul horse transport cars between the city and Morphettville racecourse on the Glenelg line. From the Depression until closure of the network, only one batch of trams was bought by the MTT. During the Depression, the MTT needed to expand services but lacked finance to lay new tracks. It decided to try trolleybuses and a converted petrol bus ran on the Payneham to Paradise tram line during offpeak in May 1932.  The trial was judged a success and the MTT planned its first permanent trolley bus line. In 1937, the trolley bus service started from Light Square in the Adelaide CBD to Tusmore. In 1938, services extended to Port Adelade, Semaphore and Large Bay. Petrol rationing during World War II boosted passenger numbers again. Patronage remained higher than before the war until rationing stopped in 1951. 

O-Bahn guided busway a novel addition in 1986 to Adelaide transport via a tortuous decision path

O-Bahn guided busway, opened in 1986, from Adelaide’s city centre to its north-eastern suburbs, had a torturous gestation. With rapid growth in suburban Tea Tree Gully (2,500 in 1954; 35,000 by 1971), land along River Torrens, originally bought for the Modbury freeway under the abandoned MATS (Metropolitan Adelaide Transport Study), was proposed as the route for a branch of Adelaide rail network. A North East Adelaide Public Transport Review chose light rail or a busway as more viable. The state government decided to extend Glenelg tram beyond Victoria Square and through parklands to the Modbury corridor. Adelaide City Council joined broad opposition to the project, saying it interfered with the city layout. The government altered the plan to put the line underground at big cost. Residents in inner suburbs such as St Peters had concerns about noise and disrupting Torrens Gorge. The light rail project was halted in 1980 after premier David Tonkin appointed an opponent, Michael Wilson, as transport minister. The government sent experts to look at an innovative O-Bahn (omnibus/bahn or path) guided bus developed in West Germany by Daimler-Benz for tram tunnels in Essen. State Transport Authority engineers saw O-Bahn’s advantages (less land, less noise, faster, cheaper). Plans were drawn up for 12 kilometres (initially, only three). A new government in 1982 brought uncertainty but premier John Bannon continued with Stage 1 (City to Paradise) and in 1986 Stage 2 (Paradise to Tea Tree Plaza). The O-Bahn had more than four million passenger trips in Stage 1 in 1986. 

Adelaide Metro brand for all bus services with handover to private firms completed in 2000

All state government-run Adelaide bus services were privatised by 2000, the same year as the Adelaide Metro brand was created for the whole urban public transport system. Buses, the largest element of Adelaide public transport, had been run from 1975 to 1994 by the government’s State Transport Authority (STA) that also oversaw the metropolitan rail operations of the former South Australian Railways and buses and trams of the Muncipal Tramways Trust (MTT). In 1995-96, the government’s TransAdelaide took over from the STA and it ran only three bus services and other area services were tendered out to private operators including Serco in its first Australian bus operation. Services were run and marketed under each operator’s name, presenting a disjointed network to the public. The 2000 round of tenders for private operators to take over saw the end of TransAdelaide's (and the state government’s) direct operation of bus services in Adelaide, although it retained tram and rail services. Adelaide Metro brand was created across all publc transport (bus, train, tram), with common livery, timetable designs and a city information centre. Contracts for private operators of bus regions have changed and shuffled but in 2019 they were operated by Torrens Transit (North-South, East-West and Outer North East, including Free City Connector and O-Bahn) and SouthLink (Outer South, Outer North, Hills). A large fleet of diesel and natural gas-powered buses operates services that mostly terminate in Adelaide city centre or at a suburban railway stations or shopping centre interchange. 


amid ongoing debate over safety concerns and speed restrictions 

Centre keeping 24-hour watch and control of traffic movement in Adelaide metro area

Every moment of Adelaide metropolitan car traffic is being watched and controlled from a high-tech centre in suburban Norwood. The Adelaide Metropolitan Traffic Management Centre operates 24 hours of every day, controlling more than 700 sets of traffic signals across the state. It uses the Sydney Co-ordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS) that decides the timing of signals according to demand. SCATS traffic signal software operates in more than 100 cities around the world, notably Singapore, Dublin, Shanghai and Mexico City. The traffic management centre at Norwood has 315 cameras, including 130 in the metropolitan area them relaying images of the traffic flow.  The centre’s monitoring has been boosted its network of Bluetooth receivers which track Adelaide traffic in real time. The receivers pick up Bluetooth signals from devices on board passing vehicles, such as stereos and mobiles phones, allowing the traffic management centre to monitor and display travel times. The Bluetooth data allows the centre to change traffic signals immediately in response to incidents and can be used to predict travel times between destinations. Travel times are broadcast on more than 47 electronic signs around metropolitan Adelaide to give motorists a choice of routes. Both the Bluetooth network and the world-first AddInsight app have been developed in-house by the state government department for planning, transport and infrastructure at a low cost and with a view to exporting it to the world.

RAA of South Australia expands services but roadside help stays central beyond century

The Royal Automobile Association (RAA) of South Australia responds to hundreds of thousands of calls for emergency roadside help each year, with more than 90% of problems fixed at the roadside. Emergency roadside help has remained the core of ever-expanding RAA services. The early 1950s saw a massive increase in car ownership and spiralling RAA membership, soaring past 75,000. Road service changed with the familiar motorcycle outfits replaced by vans. Guides became patrols and used two-way radio, operating 24 hours a day out of new premises in North Adelaide. As motoring and membership kept growing, the RAA moved into larger headquarters, built technical premises, began office and vehicle inspection centres in the suburbs, set up staffed offices in major country areas and started its march into the computer age. In the 1980s, the mapping department moved from pen-and-ink drawing to scribing and on to computer mapping. RAA was the first motoring organisation in the world with a battery replacement service and Australia’s first to produce a computer CD with touring information. Such innovations built on established services: 24-hour emergency breakdown, vehicle inspection, motoring advocacy, road safety, legal services, technical advice, travel services, security, tour planning, accommodation booking and insurance. Since RAA’s 100th anniversary in 2003, it has continued to improve and modernise, with new headquarters at Mile End. In 2009, the city branch returned to its historical and sentimental home in Hindmarsh Square.

Overall downward trend in South Australian road casualties despite deaths spike in 2014

South Australia recorded the highest rate of road deaths of the mainland Australian states in 2014. Among the 108 killed, 13 drivers/riders had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit. But the South Australian government department planning, transport and infrastructure (DPTI) figures since 2004 show a dramatic drop in serious injuries and crashes. In 2004, serious vehicle crashes in South Australia were at around 1600. Since then, the fall has been dramatic to around 600 from 2012. Going back to 1995, all vehicle road crashes fell by more than half from 39,290 to 16,775 in 2016. Road crash deaths in 1995 were 182, compared to 80 in 2018. The DPTI breakdown on those 80 deaths showed a disproportionately high number – 56 – were from rural and regional areas. Other elements of the 80 deaths in 2018 were: fatality rate per 100,000 of population 4.6, car drivers 39, heavy vehicle drivers 2, vehicle passengers 16, motorcyclists 10, cyclists 7, pedestrians (including gopher and wheelchair users) 6, older road users (70+) 15, young road users (16-24) 17, deaths in the greater Adelaide region 24, drivers and passengers killed not wearing a seatbelt 16%, speed as a contributing factor in fatal crashes 20%, drivers/riders killed with an illegal blood-alcohol content 18%, drivers/riders killed testing positive to drugs 24%. Serious injuries also went down from 622 in 2017 to 586 in 2018 – the lowest recorded total in a year and 18% lower than previous five years average. Yet the first months of 2019 saw an above-average spike in road deaths.  Despite overall downward trends, the financial cost of road fatalities and injuries is about $1 billion each year for the South Australian community.

Motorists' compulsory third party insurance privatised by South Australian government

Compulsory third party (CTP) insurance for South Australia’s more than one million motorists was privatised in 2016. Previously, all compulsory third party insurance was handled by the state government’s Motor Accident Commission (MAC). Under the change, compulsory third party initially was allocated to private providers QBE Insurance (Australia), AAMI, SGIC and Allianz Australia Insurance. The state government department of planning, transport and infrastructure continued to issue complusory third party insurance renewal notices with vehicle registration. Compulsory third party prices were fixed to CPI-like increases for the first three years (about 3% on average annual premiums). After that, compulsory third party would move to a fully competitive market with other approved insurers able to enter the market. In the fourth year, motorists could stay with their allocated insurer or choose to shop for better offers. An independent Compulsory Third Party Insurance Regulator was appointed to oversee all insurers, protecting consumers and setting premiums. South Australia’s compulsory third party scheme has had some major reforms. Before 2014, the scheme didn’t compensate for serious road injuries if there was no other vehicle at fault. For example, a car driver who became a quadriplegic after hitting a kangaroo wouldn’t have been eligible for a claim. The new compulsory third party insurance scheme provided lifetime treatment, care and support to those who suffered very serious injuries from accidents on South Australian roads, regardless of fault.

MAC (Motor Accident Commission), South Australian road safety messenger, shut in 2019

The Motor Accident Commission (MAC), South Australia’s leader in road safety behaviour change and education, was shut down by the state government in 2019. The Liberal state government said this was a “natural consequence” of privatisation by the former Labor government of the Motor Accident Commission’s core function after compulsory third party insurance was transferred to private companies from 2016. The Motor Accident Commission had taken on handing residual compulsory third party claims as a state government entity in 1959. In 2007, the MAC became responsible for road safety marketing campaigns. In that year ,125 people were killed on South Australian roads. Ten years on, South Australia achieved a record low toll of 86 deaths. The “10-year hangover” and “Creepers” were among high-profile road-safety campaigns the MAC promoted against drug driving, drink driving, speed, fatigue, mobile phone distraction, regional drivers, young drivers and seatbelts. It partnered with events such as the Santos Tour Down Under and the Schoolies Festival and sponsoed the MAC Footy Express service. It also contributed to the state rescue helicopter service from the compulsory third party insurance fund. The state government said it would move Motor Accident Commission road safety activities to the police and other government agencies such as the department of planning, transport and infrastructure and the office for recreation and sport. MAC’s funding of about $11 million and all its arrangements – including funding the rescue helicopter – would roll over at existing levels to 2020.

Lifetime support for own-fault accident victims hits lower-end claims, say lawyers

Law Society of South Australia and injury-claim lawyers have continued to complain about what they say is unfairness in changes to laws relating to accident insurance claims in 2013. The significant changes in 2013 were the Motor Vehicle Accidents (Lifetime Support Scheme) Act and amendments to the Civil Liability Act 1936. The lifetime support scheme introduced treatment, care and support of those catastrophically injured in motor vehicle accidents that were their own fault. This represented 40% of victims who were previously unable to claim under compulsory third party insurance for treatment and care for lifelong disabilities. As a result of introducing the costly new Lifetime Support Authority, the state government changed the lower end of the scheme affecting those with more minor injuries from an accident. At this lower end, drivers had to score more than 11 out of 100 points on an injury-severity scale to get compensation over and above loss of income and medical bills or “pain and suffering” payments. The state government said it made the changes to make car insurance more affordable and that the scheme had saved the average motorist $140 in car registration fees. Lawyers argued those savings had all but disappeared and, in the meantime, car crash victims who'd suffered broken limbs, a loss of vision,  even some brain damage, were being refused pain-and-suffering compensation because they scored less than 8/100 under the changes to compulsory third-party insurance. Lawyers suggested the 2013 changes anticipated the sale of the insurance system to private companies.


with Uber ride sharing presenting a big challenge to taxi industry

Taxi industry transition adjusting to arrival of Uber and other ride sharing in Adelaide

The South Australian taxi industry faced a shakeup with ride-sharing services given the OK to operate in the state from July 2016. As part of the reforms, the state government offered  $30,000 compensation for each taxi licence (selling at $300,000 in 2014), $50 a week in compensation for a maximum of 11 months for licence lessees, and a freeze on new taxi licences for at least five years. The compensation package cost $31 million, while the halt on taxi plate sales is estimated at $24 million and other measures are worth about $10 million. The assistance package will be funded by a $1 levy on all metropolitan taxi, chauffeur and ride-sharing trips. Taxis continue to have the exclusive right to work at ranks or be hailed along with having pre-booked work and cash fares.  The three major taxi companies, Adelaide Independent, Suburban and Yellow Cabs, have their own app-based booking system iHail. Other reforms announced are: better services for disabled, better rules around types of vehicles for taxi and chauffeur services, reduced credit card surcharges, fares increased on running and waiting times, a new peak and night-time tariff, more inspection and enforcement staff, new penalities, including on-the-spot fines and accredition removed, for drivers breaching rules.In 2016, there were 1,035 taxis licences and 102 access cab licences in South Australia taking about eight million taxi trips each year and supporting 4,200 jobs.

Uber and other ride-sharing app services given OK to operate in South Australia in 2016

Ride-sharing services such as UberX, GoCatch, Ungogo and Oiii were given the OK to operate in South Australia from July 2016. This followed the lead of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. All drivers and vehicles of these app-based services had to comply with driver accreditation, including police and working-with-children checks, as well as twice-yearly vehicle inspections. The app-based services were based on connecting customers with drivers who use their own cars to provide transport. They use GPS to find a customer's location and connect them to the nearest driver. Customers pay using the app and no cash is handled. The price is charged per minute or per kilometre plus a base fee, and can change depending on demand. Drivers must pass a background check, have insurance and a registered car. Uber offers a range of service levels, the two most common being UberX, using drivers with their own car, and UberBlack, using high-end” black sedans with professional chauffeurs with a commercial licence and commercial auto insurance. The new app-based services in South Australia contribute $1 a fare towards the compensation being offered to the taxi industry for the changes. Ride-booking services would have to meet stringent standards. Uber and the state government were in dispute over these introductory arrangements. Adelaide taxi fares rose by 3% from October 2016 and passengers paid an extra $2 per trip during peak periods on weekends to compensate drivers as new players entered the industry.


EcoCaddy trikes bring hybrid electric short-trip taxi experience to Adelaide city centre

EcoCaddy, a short-trip passenger service for the Adelaide city centre, using bamboo-bodied hybrid-electric tricycles, is consolidating on its challenging start in 2015.  EcoCaddy’s founder Daniels Langeberg, whose qualifications include bachelor of urban and regional planning with first class honours at the University of South Australia, worked in Shanghai, helping design green cities. While racing fixed-gear bikes in China, Langeberg met Chris and Florence Trees, designers and makers of Treecycle: an electric-assisted pedal trike, built from steam-pressed bamboo and aluminium, that now comprises EcoCaddy’s fleet. Besides taking on Adelaide’s car obsession, Langeberg became Australia’s first pedicab company in Australia to provide riders with a wage, rather than commission, to retain drivers who match the culture of the venture. The wage system was propped up by advertising and sponsorship on the vehicles. Courier and delivery services are other sidelines, and EcoCaddy diversified into city and parklands tours. Dovetailing with Adelaide City Council carbon-neutral goals and its own eco-friendly philosophy, EcoCaddy struck a deal with Ride, an operator of e-scooters in the Adelaide CDB, to collect and recharge its scooters with a custom-built EcoCart. These extra revenue possibilities have allowed EcoCaddy to settle more comfortably into new headquarters in Pulteney Street, Adelaide. EcoCaddy’s short-trip taxi service operates on a $10 flat fee within the Adelaide City Council zone, includes the Adelaide city centre, North Adelaide and the parklands. 

Adelaide City E-scooter trial extends to added carbon savings in venture with EcoCaddy

Two electric scooter companies, Singapore-based Beam and Melbourne-based Ride, begin operating a six-month trial across Adelaide CBD in 2019. They were chosen by Adelaide City Council ahead of Californian company Lime that run a four-week pilot program with 500 scooters used for 140,000 trips during the Adelaide Fringe. The shortlisted operators were assessed on criteria, including ability to restrict an e-scooter’s speed and braking. The council said Lime didn’t meet requirements because it wouldn't force its e-scooters to stop if they went outside the council-imposed boundaries. GPS-tracked and operated with a smartphone app, the new e-scooters operating in Adelaide were required by the council to reduce to a speed of four kilometres per hour. The new permit is limited to the CBD. If riders go beyond this (or into Rundle Mall no-go zone), Beam and Ride’s e-scooters will slow to a stop. Ride scooters has become a partner of Adelaide-born micro-mobility company EcoCaddy that operates a CBD pedal-assisted electric bike passenger service. In a deal maximising their common aim of reducing carbon emissions, Ride scooters and EcoCaddy developed a battery swapping system. Instead of a truck picking up scooters each day to move them to in-demand pickup points or to the depot for recharging, the batteries are swapped by a mechanic on an EcoCaddy bike. An EcoCargo trailer was designed to carry scooters around. The partnership worked so well that Ride scooters and EcoCaddy were looking to take it to the national level.

HandleBar Adelaide brings 16-passenger pedalling pub on wheels to Australia in 2016

The HandleBar Adelaide, Australia’s first pub on wheels, is a 16-passenger pedal-powered mobile music, fun and drinking experience, offering two-hour tours of the city centre. The HandleBar’s four-wheel open frame vehicles, devised by brothers Henk and Zwier Van Laar in the Netherlands in the 1990s, are totally powered by the pedalling passengers at just under 10km/h with the bar handler guiding its braking and direction. After the novelty was taken up in US, European and Asian cities, Adelaide gained the first of the vehicles (it now has four) in Australia in 2016. They were brought to Adelaide by Stephen Lindsay and Jason Seris who’d operated nine of the Amsterdam-made vehicles in the US since 2012. They chose Adelaide because of its smaller size where they’ve found the concept has most impact. They met extensively with the city council and state government agencies to ensures compliance in safety, food and alcohol service, waste disposal, suitable city routes and occasional stopping points. The two-hour tours around the Adelaide CBD allow passengers to enjoy a South Australian beer, cider or wine (that can be pre-ordered and prepaid online) to the background of their own karaoke playlist, with stops at other hotels along the way. A similar concept has been taken up by Glenelg Pedal Bar with an all-aluminium pedal vehicle starting and finishing at the Watermark Hotel, Glenelg (corner of Anzac Highway and Adelphi Terrace), then taking in beach tracks, visiting Moseley Square and Marina Pier bars. 

Segway Sensation tours glide around Adelaide Riverbank, Glenelg and the Seppeltfield winery

Cindy Chynoweth and Shane Camilleri brought Segway Sensation to South Australia in 2014 after falling in love with the exhilarating experience of a two-wheeled self-balancing vehicle on a Sydney tour. They started Segway Sensation SA tours at Seppeltsfield winery in the Barossa Valley, before adding Adelaide city tours in 2017 and Glenelg in 2019. They also host corporate events and team building. Tours are about one hour long plus a short training session in driving the personal transporters. The Riverbank tour starts from the Par 3, North Adelaide Golf Course, before following a 6km trail taking in major attractions including Adelaide Oval, Adelaide Convention Centre, the Riverbank bridge, Adelaide Festival Centre and Adelaide Zoo. The 6km Glenelg trail takes in the Glenelg Beach foreshore, Mosley Square, Glenelg Jetty, Patawalonga Creek, boat docks and boat marina. The Seppeltsfield Winery tour visits areas of the estate not normally accessible in one of Australia's oldest wineries, founded in 1851 by Joseph Ernst Seppelt. From the Seppeltsfield picnic grounds, the tour heads off on a trail through heritage-listed sites and 19th Century Barossa architecture, tranquil gardens and vineyard vistas.


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