Keolis Downer enters Australian bus market, becomes Australia’s largest privately-owned multi-model public transport provider

Australia’s largest light rail operator, Keolis Downer, today announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire one of Australia’s biggest bus operators, Australian Transit Enterprises (ATE).

The agreement was signed by the shareholders of ATE and Keolis Downer on 10 March 2015. The transaction is expected to complete early April subject to customary approvals.

Australian Transit Enterprises (ATE) is one of Australia’s leading bus operators with established operations in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. Founded in 1974, as a family business, ATE has grown to over 1 600 employees and 930 buses. ATE operates 91 long-term regular route services and has revenue of around $190 million in FY2014.

As Australia’s largest operator of light rail, Keolis Downer operates and maintains Yarra Trams, Melbourne’s tram network, and G:Link, the Gold Coast light rail. Through these contracts Keolis Downer provides transport services to more than 190 million people per year.

“The acquisition of ATE by Keolis Downer creates Australia’s largest privately-owned, multi-modal public transport operator. Keolis Downer has a solid foundation with a strong capacity for growth and deep experience across transport modes,” said Keolis Downer CEO, Benedicte Colin.

“The acquisition of ATE provides for our entry into the Australian bus market, building on Keolis Group’s existing operations in 15 countries and including more than 24,000 buses.

“ATE’s management team share Keolis Downer’s commitment to providing world-class passenger experience. The commitment of the ATE business to providing safe, customer-focused journeys will continue.

“Keolis Downer’s international experience and credentials, combined with the local knowledge and experience of the ATE team provides a sustainable platform for further growth.”

ATE Managing Director Jonathan Cook said “This is an exciting opportunity for one of Australia’s leading public transport businesses to join with a global industry leader in order to build depth and capacity within the business and learn from world-class best practice.”

“This new phase of the business will allow for continued growth in established and new markets. The transition to new ownership includes a commitment to stable operations building on past success of a proven team.”

Keolis Downer is committed to the Australian and New Zealand transport sector including light rail, bus and heavy rail. Keolis Downer continues to consider new projects as well as acquisition opportunities.


Keolis Downer

  • Keolis Downer is Australia’s largest light rail operator.
  • Fleet of over 500 light rail vehicles.
  • More than 2000 staff in Melbourne, Gold Coast and Sydney.
  • 190 million passengers per annum.

Keolis Downer is Australia’s largest light rail operator and one of Australia-New Zealand’s largest public transport providers. Keolis Downer is a joint venture between Keolis, one of the world’s leading public transport providers, and Downer, a leader in engineering and infrastructure management in Australia and New Zealand.

Keolis Downer was established in 2009 in order to bid the Yarra Trams franchise in Melbourne.

Keolis Downer’s established operations include the operations and maintenance of the world’s largest light rail network, Yarra Trams in Melbourne, as well as one of the world’s newest, G:Link on Australia’s Gold Coast.


Australian Transit Enterprises

  • Australian Transit Enterprises (ATE) is Australia’s fifth largest bus operator.
  • Fleet of 932 buses (266 company-owned) operating on 91 long-term regular routes.
  • Around 1600 employees.
  • 21 locations in 3 states (South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland).
  • Contracts extending to 2022 and beyond.
  • Revenue of around $190 million in FY2014.


Australian Transit Enterprises (ATE) is one of Australia’s largest bus operators and is based in Brisbane. Formed in 1974 when the Mountjoy and Cook families combined two bus businesses in the Brisbane area, ATE has grown to become Australia’s fifth largest bus operator. Current operations include 21 locations in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. ATE consists of four business divisions:

  • Path Transit providing route and school bus services in the north eastern and eastern suburbs of Perth as well as other regional areas of Western Australia.
  • Southlink providing route and school bus services in metropolitan Adelaide.
  • LinkSA providing route, school, special bus and dial-a-ride services in regional South Australia (within 100km of Adelaide).
  • Hornibrook providing route and school bus services in the northern suburbs of Brisbane.



Keolis is a worldwide public passenger transport operator, with experience in bus, light rail, heavy rail and metro operations. The Group develops tailor-made mobility solutions to suit individual local requirements. Keolis, a market leader in France, is present in 15 countries throughout the world (Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Luxembourg, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, United Kingdom, and USA). Keolis generated revenue of 5.6 billion euros (AUD 7.8 billion) in 2014 and employs 60,000 people.



Downer EDI Limited (Downer) provides services to customers in market sectors including Mining, Rail, Transport, Utilities, Telecommunications and Engineering, Construction & Maintenance. Downer employs approximately 20,000 people primarily in Australia and New Zealand but also in the Asia-Pacific region, South America and Southern Africa.


Download a PDF of the press release here.

Media contact: Peter Colacino, Director of Corporate Affairs, 0402 296 544