Union calls for Constance to be canned

By: Chris Thompson

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union calls for swift action after the Harbour Bridge bus fire

Union calls for Constance to be canned
Image: @sydheatha on Twitter

After a spate of bus fires during the last couple of years, a State Transit Authority (STA) bus has caught fire on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The extremely visible event re-ignited concerns amongst industry leaders, who say the government needs to keep STA buses up to standards.

Bus and tram division secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union Chris Preston says transport minister Andrew Constance has been too slow to act, and is calling for him to be removed from office.

"The RTBU has been calling for this problem to be fixed for years, and the public deserves answers as to why the government is still sitting on their hands as buses burn," Preston says.

"Andrew Constance knows about this problem, this is not a new issue, and the government needs to get serious and retro-fit all buses with fire suppressant systems to ensure that passengers and drivers are safe.

"It is beyond belief that we are still seeing our public buses catching on fire on our roads putting passengers, drivers, pedestrians and other road users at enormous risk."

The RTBU also reports bus fires were up last year – 25 per cent from 2014.

"Today’s incident highlights that we need action now, not when the government gets around to it," Preston says.

Transport for New South Wales released a statement from Constance, in which he says the NSW government plans to have fire suppression equipment on all STA buses by the end of 2016

"More than 1900 State Transit buses and 400 private buses have fire suppression systems and our priority now is to complete the rollout.

"All State Transit buses will be completed by the end of this year," Constance says.

"The remainder of the program is due for completion in 2017, but I have asked Transport for NSW to see how the program can be expedited for the remainder of the fleet."

Preston says this response is too little, too late.

"The Minister needs to take responsibility for this latest bungle that saw two passengers on the state bus network taken to hospital because of his inaction on installing fire suppression systems," he says.

"It is time for the Premier to realise this saga has been going on for years and his Minister is just not taking it seriously.

Mike Baird needs to ask for Andrew Constance’s resignation."

According to numbers previously announced by Constance, almost half of STA buses are still without proper engine-fire safety equipment.

About 1800 buses are yet to be brought up to the RTBU’s expectations.

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