QBIC WELCOMES QLD GOVT’S BUS DRIVER SAFETY INITIATIVE

By: Fabian Cotter


IN WHAT PROMISES TO BE better protection for the State’s bus drivers, the Queensland Bus Industry Council (QBIC) has positively endorsed Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey’s initiative to provide a safe working environment, as announced recently.

QBIC WELCOMES QLD GOVT’S BUS DRIVER SAFETY INITIATIVE
The Queensland Bus Industry Council (QBIC) has positively endorsed the State Government's initiative to provide a safe working environment for bus drivers.

QBIC executive director David Tape says the Palaszczuk Government’s five-point plan will hopefully improve bus driver safety and reduce the risk of violence and unacceptable behaviour on the State's buses.

"Our public transport network needs to be safe for all and we commend the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to work with industry and the public to tackle this issue on identified high-risk routes," Tape said.

"This is a positive step in the right direction and we look forward to a continued working relationship with the Minister to ensure safety on our buses," he added.

"There have been incidents that have caused concern among bus drivers, particularly in recent years, and any additional safety improvement for drivers is good news," Tape said.

His comments follow the Palaszczuk Government’s plan to roll out a five-point safety package for bus drivers across Queensland - including grants for driver safety barriers - under its final response to the Bus Driver Safety Review. 

Minister Bailey said the comprehensive plan would tackle unacceptable violence against bus drivers with long-term benefits for both public transport staff and passengers.

"No one should be afraid while simply doing their job," the Minister said.

"Everyone deserves to be safe and secure on our public transport network and this package demonstrates we are serious and committed to working with bus operators, drivers, and the public to improve driver safety and reduce risk."

The Government’s five-point bus driver safety plan is said to deliver:

  • Physical safety measures: $3.93m for protective driver safety barriers to be installed in buses, $1.54m for anti-shatter window film installation on all Queensland buses, and reinforce contractual requirements for operators to provide on-board CCTV, duress and radio systems.
  • Targeting high-risk areas and building a safety culture: Consistent and simplified incident reporting in order to ensure resources aimed at improving driver safety are deployed where they are most needed.
  • Policy and procedure changes: Introduce a code of conduct for passengers, improve incident reporting procedures and provide customer service cards to drivers to assist with de-escalation of potential incidents.
  • Education and increased safety awareness: Develop a public awareness campaign promoting safe travel behaviours and expand the Step Up school safety education programme.
  • Sharing best industry practice: De-escalation training, recruitment and training processes, and fare evasion awareness.

Minister Bailey said Queensland bus operators would be able to apply for 50:50 Government grants to install driver safety barriers in buses, which travel in high-risk areas.

"Operators will be able to apply for the bus driver barrier grants, which will give them flexibility to install their choice of a full or partial barrier, in consultation with their workforce," he said.

"Anti-shatter film and targetting Senior Network Officers, where they are needed most, will improve physical safety. Meanwhile, the public awareness campaign and expanded school education programme will help raise awareness about the impacts of bus driver abuse."

A code of conduct for passengers, developed in consultation with industry, has been published on the TransLink website and on-board signage will be rolled out progressively from this month, it’s stated.

This final response follows the Government’s interim response released last year that identified 20 initiatives that were in progress or required further investigations.

 Related article: TWU says bus driver abuse needs harsher penalties
Related article: TWU says bus driver abuse needs harsher penalties

Minister Bailey said the final response was built on safety measures already underway, including an anti-shatter film trial, Step Up education programme and customer service cards so passengers could find more information.

"This response is about creating safer work environments and respecting our bus drivers and the important job they have of keeping Queensland moving," he said.

"We continue to meet with bus drivers and transport workers through the Bus Safety Forum and I look forward to working with the industry and the broader community to implement the Government’s plan in the coming months."

Transport Workers Union QLD Branch secretary Peter Biagini said he welcomed the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to working with bus drivers and operators to improve driver safety.

"No one deserves to feel threatened just for doing their job, and these initiatives will go a long way improving the working lives of Queensland bus drivers," Biagini said.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union Bus Division secretary Tom Brown said his members looked forward to working with the Government and operators to ensure these safety measures were implemented.

"We are acutely aware of concerns held by drivers concerning their safety, and we welcome these steps by the Palaszczuk Government," Brown said.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Code of Conduct for Passengers: https://translink.com.au//tickets-and-fares/code-of-conduct (external site)

The Bus Driver Safety Review, Interim Government Response and Final Government Response: https://translink.com.au/about-translink/projects-and-initiatives/bus-driver-safety-review (external site)

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