NTC fatigue package not built for bus industry: say BIC

By: Chris Smith

The Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) has come out strongly against the National Transport Council’s truck oriented fatigue management package. BIC executive

The Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) has come out strongly against the National Transport Council’s truck oriented fatigue management package.

BIC executive director Michael Apps says the industry agrees with the principle of managing fatigue, although the package put forward doesn’t reflect the needs of the bus industry.

"BIC has, from the beginning of this project, argued that the bus and coach industry is not the trucking industry, and that a specific national Bus and Coach Industry Driving Hours Package should be developed for the industry," Apps says.

"The BIC is disappointed that the process has allowed the detail of the driving hours package to be completed despite our objections.

"The NTC package that has been delivered is a bus driving hours package in name only and for all intents and purposes (except for a concession to long distance 28 day tours) is the truck driving hours package."

Apps explains as an example the proposed requirements for route bus operators in Victoria are probably unworkable and, if implemented, will result in severe dislocation to operations and a very large cost to Government.

"BIC is calling on each of the States and Territories to institute a transition period of at least 12 months on the proposed driving hours requirements for the bus and coach sector," he says.

"This will allow time to develop a specific Bus and Coach Industry Driving Hours Package that can be adopted as consistently as possible in each jurisdiction.

"The BIC does not believe the changes required are difficult to achieve and will provide an overall better fatigue management outcome," Apps argues.

The BIC has argued that the:
  • route and school passenger transport task is very different from the freight task in that the rosters used are fixed and do not require drivers to travel long distances or work long hours.
  • bus and coach industry already operates within a (State based) compliance framework that regulates who can be a bus and coach operator and the requirements for meeting that accreditation. These requirements include fatigue management, driving hours, driver training and occupational health and safety.

The key for the Bus and Coach Industry Driving Hours Package would involve:
  • acceptance of the different driving task undertaken by this sector, and development of a Bus and Coach Fatigue Management System that is coordinated with other regulatory requirements. It would accommodate arrangements for both the long distance, tourist and charter operations as well as the contracted route and school operations
  • acceptance that work diaries are not required for school or route services and are only required when operating outside a radius of 100km or 200km (depending on the State) from base
  • acceptance that regular contracted night work needs parameters suitable to the sector
  • development of a Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) (Bus) module delivered as part of existing accreditation requirements in each State and Territory
  • the relevant State or Territory bus and coach industry accreditation regulator being responsible for compliance and enforcement

"The industry believes that an appropriate BFM (Bus) module would be taken up by the majority of operators as a tool to manage fatigue even if they were not required to do so," he says.

"BIC believes this will provide the best safety outcome."

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