BOAS constricted

A data matching exercise reveals a higher than acceptable number of operators employing staff with suspended or cancelled drivers authorities

BOAS constricted
BOAS constricted

By David Goeldner | March 4, 2011

Transport NSW will increase the frequency of data matching with police records to weed out bus drivers in breach of their driver’s authority.

The move comes as part of ongoing Bus Operator Accreditation Scheme (BOAS) audits.

Transport NSW Compliance Schemes and Community Transport Director Barbara Wise says 218 audits showed operators couldn’t provide evidence of a system in place to ensure drivers had a valid driver’s licence and driver’s authority.

"This worries me because I don’t want to be in a position of having more information about employees than the operator who works with their drivers every day," Wise says.

"We have data matching with NSW Police and the RTA and we find it very effective to identify drivers who have committed offences."

In 2010, 1093 bus drivers in NSW had their licences suspended.

"It happens more than I realised," Wise says.

"We will take this further because at the moment data matching is occurring on a weekly basis."

Wise says from July Transport NSW will shift to daily data matching.

"It will be a much quicker turn around with daily data from the police as soon as charges are laid."

The BOAS audit has identified levels of improvement in compliance in the past 12 months, as well as deficiencies.

"One of the greatest levels of improvement over the past 12 months has been fatigue management, but an area in need of improvement is drug and alcohol management," Wise says.

Of the 3,064 audits of safety critical deficiencies, 719 showed inadequacies in record taking for drug and alcohol requirements.

Wise plans to publish aggregated BOAS data on the Transport NSW website.

She says the publishing and release of data improves accountability and is the ‘right thing to do’, and has the backing of the Government Information Public Access Act to release information about BOAS audits.

A new independent transport safety regulator will also assist Wise and her team to enforce safety legislation under the NSW Passenger Transport Act.

"ITSR officers will be authorised to conduct audits and safety inspections as well as drug and alcohol testing," Wise says.

"The majority of bus and coach operators are meeting their obligations under the Act, but there are a small number doing the wrong thing."

Compliance officers spoke to the drivers of 5566 buses in 2010, resulting in 118 penalty notices, mainly for touting and leaving vehicles unattended, particularly at Sydney Airport.

"The international and domestic precincts of Sydney Airport are a major focal point for our operations – touting and soliciting being the main concerns."

Wise says she is aware that Sydney Airport Corporation, which is responsible for ground transport arrangements, has recently introduced a number of changes that affect bus transport at the airport.

Some changes include the redevelopment of a larger bus holding area and a reorganisation of the transport information desk at the international terminal.

Wise says it’s important to consider why the accreditation scheme – BOAS – was introduced just over five years ago.

"It’s intended to increase safety in the bus industry and to ensure bus and coach operators comply with the requirements of the NSW Passenger Transport Act," she says.

Wise believes the introduction of BOAS has strengthened the relationship between government and the bus industry.

"I personally believe that it is providing better outcomes for passengers and the community.

"Most operators do a fantastic job, but there are still things we need to improve."

The BOAS operator audits will continue.

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