Bus-specific driving hours proposal put to ministers

By: Jason Whittaker

The Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) has sent a letter to Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, and to each state and

The Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) has sent a letter to Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, and to each state and territory transport minister, calling for the development of a single national bus driving hours package.

The letter outlines concerns expressed by members of the bus and coach sector with the national driving hours package.

The letter also conveys concerns about the legislation surrounding emergency services and unplanned rail replacement services and the use of work diaries as mandatory by bus and coach drivers.

BIC has renewed its call for basic fatigue management (BFM) or advanced fatigue management (AFM) requirements to form part of existing state-based accreditation for operators who need to work outside of the standard or standard bus driving hour arrangements.

It proposes the basis of a national template, a ‘Bus Driving Hours Package’, could be developed from a group AFM application being processed in New South Wales at present – provided it is approved by a fatigue expert.

"This national template could then be used by any operator in every state, wishing to operate under AFM, as long as the company’s timetables, rosters and schedules do not exceed the parameters of the template," says BIC Executive Director Michael Apps.

"Operators could then be subject to the normal audit requirements of AFM under NHVAS.

"This would remove the need for each AFM to be approved by a fatigue expert, reduce cost for operators and streamline the process."

In the letter BIC also calls for amendments to the NTC Standard Hours prescriptions for drivers working on night services.

Citing the New South Wales Night Rider service as an example, BIC says adherence to the NTC Standard Hours requirements would see an estimated 250-300 new drivers employed to meet the existing requirements for night rider contracted services and other unplanned replacement services and emergency services.

"The current night driving requirements which require two nights off plus two consecutive nights off in a fortnight (NTC Standard Hours) will require an extensive re-rostering exercise to be undertaken and a major increase in the number of drivers to be employed and available at any given time," Apps says.

"These extra drivers in some cases, would need to be employed just for the purposes of being on permanent stand by."

BIC is also seeking an exemption from the use of work diaries, as recommended by the National Transport Commission.
"At a minimum, work diaries should be only required for any bus or coach services that travel beyond 200 kilometres from garage base," Apps says.

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