Contract bungle

Bus drivers in NSW stopped work yesterday after concerns about the implementation of Sydney’s controversial Region 3 contracts

Contract bungle
Contract bungle

By Amie Hickland | November 1, 2013

Bus drivers in Sydney stopped work yesterday for a meeting after concerns about the recently awarded Region 3 contracts, but Transit Systems say they are confident the transition will be successful.

The company started operating in Region 3 on October 13 replacing Busabout, Metro-Link, Westbus and Hopkinsons.

Although these operators still exist in other parts of the city, Metro-Link is now a charter-only operation as a consequence of Transit Systems winning the tender.

Bus drivers in south western Sydney stopped work for a Safety Meeting yesterday in response to the Transport Workers Union’s serious concerns
what they believe has been a poorly planned and ill prepared takeover of the contract this month.

TWU Bus Official Mick Pieri says drivers are infuriated over the company’s bungling of new bus schedules, a lack of transparency and accountability and its reckless disregard for the wellbeing of bus commuters and bus driver safety.

TWU New South Wales State Secretary Wayne Forno says the union repeatedly warned the Government Transit Systems was not preparing properly for the handover.

"Until our bus drivers are able to do their jobs properly and safely, the problems in Region 3 are far from over," he says.

Transit Systems Chief Executive Officer Clint Feuerherdt (pictured) says the transition is openly recognised as complex as it is the only region with the requirements to reduce from five bus operators to one.

He says the company is confident of their ability after recent experience with the Transport for London network.

"We worked closely with Transport for NSW during the transition phase and had the resources in place to prevent, identify and rectify any problems as they arose, including a buddy system for new drivers so that they could best follow scheduled routes and timetables."

Feuerherdt says in preparation of the new timetables, they proactively engaged in a series of communication methods to alert the local community to upcoming changes.

"We did experience some initial adjustment issues but overall, we are well on our way to a successful transition that will ultimately provide a better transport service to the community with Sydney's first large scale fully accessible bus fleet, all air-conditioned buses and improved connections with the implementation of the new timetable," he says.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson says since May 2012 eight new bus contracts have gone to tender and been awarded – saving $45 million a year for taxpayers.

"Transport for NSW had a transition team working closely with Transit Systems to help them prepare for the start of operations," he says.

"If new bus operators do not meet the standards outlined in their contract, action can be taken against the operator under the relevant clauses of the contract."

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