Unions push for safety focus

Transport Workers’ Unions in NSW and QLD are pushing for more safety measures on buses

Transport Workers’ Unions (TWU) in two states are calling on their State Governments to step up bus and passenger safety measures.

The New South Wales branch has called on the New South Wales Government to get serious about bus driver and passenger safety on buses after a driver was violently bashed recently.

The Queensland branch of the union is campaigning for bus safety measures to be implemented, particularly on the Gold Coast, in time for the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

NSW Secretary Wayne Forno says the most recent incident was not isolated with drivers right across NSW reporting violence, abuse and racial vilification on an almost daily basis.

"Nobody deserves to get bashed, spat on or racially abused while doing their job," he says.

"It's time for the State Government as the principal contractor and private companies to sit down with drivers and figure out how we can build a safer bus industry.

"As a start we need stronger resources in the police transport command to better patrol problem routes and respond quickly to escalating situations."

A major industry survey of almost 300 bus drivers across New South Wales shows 32 per cent of drivers have been assaulted, 33 per cent of drivers have had a passenger assaulted on their bus and 31 per cent have been racially abused.

Meanwhile, the Queensland TWU is demanding Premier Campbell Newman put urgent safety measures in place on buses now using the $30 million he has earmarked for Queensland buses.

The call comes as the TWU launches the first state-wide Bus Safety Campaign this week.

"Campbell Newman has $30 million to spend on buses: our bus drivers know best where that is needed and that is on safety," says Queensland State Secretary Peter Biagini.

Some of the TWU suggestions include the penalty for people who assault a bus driver to be increased to the same penalty as that for people who assault a police officer, live streaming of incidents directly to the police through a CCTV system which is tracked by GPS so the bus can be located and full protection for drivers at night with a Perspex divider.

The TWU has stepped up its commitment to bus safety across the state with the state-wide Queensland Bus Driver Safety Survey rolled out to determine further measures the government can take to make buses safer for all.

"Newman won’t win any brownie points with Queenslanders putting a few bus services back on when he has already ripped $40 million in services away. Queenslanders are smarter than that," Biagini says. 

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