Driver fired over $1 fare

CCVR footage of a bus driver grabbing a student's arm has led to the rejection of an unfair dismissal application

Driver fired over $1 fare
Driver fired for grabbing student's arm

By Sean Muir | September 25, 2012

A Busways driver fired for grabbing the arm of a student who refused to pay a $1 fare has had an unfair dismissal application rejected.

A Fair Work Australia (FWA) report says Busways Blacktown dismissed William Calender after he grabbed
a student's arm
in March this year to prevent
the student
his bus without paying the fare.

According to the report, William contended he outstretched his left arm to cover the bus entrance and the student walked into his hand.

But Busways rejected William’s version of the story, stating CCVR showed the applicant clearly grabbing the student’s arm.

The FWA report’s commissioner describes the contact as ‘momentary’, but says Busways still established a valid case for conduct-related dismissal.

"I have reviewed the exhibited CCVR footage on a number of occasions in real time, in slow motion and as still images," the commissioner says.

"The footage records the student showing the applicant his bus pass as he entered the bus and then some form of discussion ensuing. The CCVR footage shows the applicant’s hand then moving, pincer-like, onto the student’s arm as he passed along the aisle of the bus and, as such, I do not accept the applicant’s more benign description of what occurred."

According to the report, prior to the incident William had expressed concern about "bad behaviour" of students boarding at the bus stop where the incident occurred.

In response to a separate incident this week in which a 57-year-old bus driver was punched in the face several times at Bondi, BusNSW Executive Director Darryl Mellish says the association is concerned with incidents affecting both drivers and passengers.

But he says, anecdotally, operators believe the increased use of CCVR, is having a positive effect.

"Operators ensure their drivers are well trained to try and prevent conflict, and hundreds of millions of passenger journeys occur per year without incident. In higher risk areas drivers screens have been implemented, and there is certainly good cooperation with local police."

"The issue often comes back to antisocial behaviour which is a broader community challenge," he says.

BusNSW has developed online customer service training for drivers which includes a module on Managing Difficult and Aggressive Passengers.

BusNSW is part of a driver welfare working group with key stakeholders (unions, police, government, and operators).

A number of initiatives like removing cash from buses, and increasing policing are part of the work program.

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