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Driver shortages causing bus service chaos in NSW

Figures suggest thousands of bus trips are being cancelled in NSW daily due to driver shortages

Recent union figures supplied to the Herald suggest bus journeys being cancelled courtesy of driver shortages have happened to more than 1200 trips daily across four privatised Sydney regions on an average July weekday.

Figures provided show Transdev John Holland operated Region 9 buses covering the eastern and south-eastern suburbs had 280 cancelled trips on one day due to a staff shortage of nearly 100 drivers.

Other services, like the Region 8 northern beaches and lower north shore buses run by Keolis Downer, average 360 trips cancelled per day due to a shortage of 60 drivers, while inner west buses in Region 6 have had an average of 280, with Transit Systems having a driver shortage of 100 according to the Australian Rail, Tram and Bus Industry Union.

Bus NSW executive director Matt Threlkeld says COVID-19 and an older workforce is responsible for the shortage, with reports saying NSW has 3000 less bus drivers than in 2020.

RELATED ARTICLE: Keolis Downer targets all profiles in recruitment campaign

A Transport for NSW spokesperson says workforce shortages are impacting other industries too.

“Currently bus services are impacted due to an increase in COVID-related driver absences and an industry-wide driver shortage,” it says. “Private operators are working to minimise the impact on customers by preserving service coverage across the network and limiting trip cancellations to high-frequency routes during short windows in the morning and afternoon peaks.”

Keolis Downer says it is doing everything possible to maintain a full timetable.

“We are making every effort to promote and encourage recruitment to support our driver workforce over the coming months,” Keolis Downer says.

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