TWU 'appalled' at bus operators' safety response

A bus safety committee convened this week by the TWU’s Hughie Williams and Queensland Transport Minister Rachel Nolan attracted 40 people at its first meeting – but some drivers were told not to attend

TWU 'appalled' at bus operators' safety response
TWU ‘appalled’ at bus operators’ safety response

By David Goeldner | October 7, 2010

Bus drivers met with Queensland Transport Minister Rachel Nolan this week expressing their concerns at a spate of violent attacks on drivers, offering suggestions on how to improve bus safety.

The Bus Safety Committee meeting convened by Nolan and the Transport Workers’ Union Queensland secretary Hughie Williams called for submissions from drivers and interested stakeholders to form a set of safety guidelines.

"It’s very important that we get down to the grass roots, take submissions from the drivers and make sure passengers get to their destinations in a safe manner," Williams says.

"Over the last couple of years we’ve had an enormous amount of incidences on buses where people have been seriously assaulted."

Williams cites examples of drivers targeted with water bottles and other objects – the worst case being a gun pulled to the head of a female driver.

"I spoke to the Transport Minister Rachel Nolan and we both agreed to put in place a Queensland Bus Safety Committee and we invited anyone with an interest in the bus industry to attend," he says.

About 40 drivers attended the parliament house meeting, which Williams says is a good turn-out but he was ‘appalled’ that some operators refused to allow their staff time to attend.

"I was astounded when I was told at least four major bus companies said they would not release their drivers to attend the meeting," he says.

"That means they are not interested in their employees and not interested in the welfare of the passengers they transport – which is their business."

Williams says having the Transport Minister sanctioning the meeting placed importance on the issue of bus safety and the TWU’s role in coordinating the new committee.

"I would have thought this alone would have enticed the operators to allow their people to attend," he says.

Williams says he would recommend to Government that they look at the companies concerned.

"Particularly if they are still having incidents in a bus where people are being injured," he says.

"With buses travelling at 60 kilometres an hour and passengers on board, one of these days if we don’t rectify this problem we will be confronted with a major accident where many people could lose their lives."

Williams says the invitation is still there for operators to be involved in the bus safety committee initiative.

"We need to hear from the grass roots so we can eliminate these problems."

Williams wants to ensure that the bus safety guidelines prepared by the committee is suitable for use across the bus industry in Queensland.

The next Bus Safety Committee meeting will be held on 22 October.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ABC e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook