Emerson ropes in TransLink - job cuts to follow

Queensland transport bureaucracy goes into temporary flux as two agencies merge, with job cuts announced

Emerson ropes in TransLink - job cuts to follow
Emerson ropes in TransLink – job cuts to follow

By David Goeldner | July 31, 2012

The bus industry association appears to be for it, the union against it, and the public stuck with it as Queensland’s Transport Minister Scott Emerson announced today the end of TransLink as a statutory authority, soon to become part of the public service and responsible for all state-run public transport.

While the change means several job losses, a saving of $287 million over the next four years has been forecast which Queensland Bus Industry Council Executive Director David Tape says should go towards improving services with more government support for bus operators.

"We were expecting some form of restructure but as to what it was going to be we were unsure," Tape says.

Emerson says under the restructure all Queensland Government transport services will be integrated for the first time under the TransLink banner.

TransLink now becomes a division of Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads, headed by Director-General Michael Caltabiano.

Emerson says TransLink will no longer operate as a statutory authority nor confined to Queensland’s south-east corner.

"Instead it will become part of the department and will oversee the Qconnect bus network, TravelTrain services and school bus services, along with subsidised regional airline, coach and ferry services," he says.

"The TransLink board will be removed and the department will remain in five divisions with the number of senior executives slashed by almost half from 37 to 21.

"There will be a targeted staff reduction of 18 per cent or 1,970 full time equivalent corporate and support roles from the department and TransLink."

Tape sees having all Queensland public transport administration under one umbrella as an efficient way forward.

"It will allow the head of the department and the minister to look at efficiencies within the passenger transport network, deliver better quality services and hopefully any savings will be re-invested back into Queensland’s public transport system," he says.

But Transport Workers Union (Qld) passenger transport coordinator Bob Giddens doesn’t see it as such.

Giddens says the merging of departments will bring on an erosion of bus services as the state Government looks for savings, cutting bus routes with low patronage.

"Runs will be cut that the department doesn’t believe work," he says.

"They won’t cut the runs into the city, but its people catching buses after peak hour – seniors, the unemployed and casual workers that will be affected."

Giddens says Tran slink’s absorption into Queensland Transport would also see reduced numbers of senior network officers across the network, which he says are the ‘frontline’ of TransLink, protecting drivers and protecting revenue.

"I also see this re-amalgamation will impact on the bus industry, and will affect the bottom dollar of smaller companies that don’t have a huge amount of TransLink revenue coming in," he says.

"We need money put back into this industry for infrastructure, driver training and driver protection."

Giddens also believes experienced and essential senior public transport ‘experts’ will leave the industry, if not immediately as positions go under the ministerial axe, then in the near future as job descriptions become less specialised across several transport functions – from passenger services to road building.

"We will lose a lot of good staff," he says.

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