Safety on Sydney buses

Bus drivers have concerns about passenger safety since the introduction of the Opal Card

Sydney metropolitan bus drivers have reported serious safety concerns since the introduction of the electronic Opal Card system.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) bus division secretary Chris Preston says their biggest concern is passengers trying to get back on the bus at the rear after not touching off properly.

"The drivers do have rear door monitors, but they are working to tight timetables, so they can’t sit there to see if a passenger is going to try to re-enter through the rear door," he says.

Having touch-on points at the rear door encourages more passengers to board at the rear, which is a challenging scenario for drivers.

"There is no sympathy for drivers if someone gets trapped in the rear door, they get the blame," Preston says.

The RTBU has called on Transport for NSW to install flashing lights on the side of all buses, with a warning sign telling passengers not to board at the rear.

Transport for NSW spokesman Scott Warren says there is no proof that the new ticketing system has created any safety issues.

"The claim that there is an issue requiring flashing lights or signs on bus back doors is not backed up with any evidence that there is an issue or such a response would be a solution," he says.

In regard to questions about the reliability of the system, Warren says the Opal Card system works as it should most of the time.

"About 99 per cent of Opal machines are working fine and we expect that will increase to 100 per cent," Warren says.

Public transport use has boomed since the introduction of the new electronic system about a year ago.

"More than 2.6 million Opal cards have now been issued and just in the last two weeks Opal customers have taken more than 5 million trips on buses."

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