NSW GOVT REVIEWS BUS SEAT-BELT PROGRAM

Photography by: Fabian Cotter + Getty Images


THE NEW NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, The Hon. Paul Toole MP, announced a review of the Government’s rural and regional bus seat-belt program at the BusNSW annual Conference, held in the Blue Mountains, recently.

NSW GOVT REVIEWS BUS SEAT-BELT PROGRAM
Minister Toole had taken a pragmatic approach to the program and recognised the need for a review, according to BusNSW.

A joint industry and government task force will be set up to undertake a review of the current program, which involves a large seat-belt retrofit project in addition to the inclusion of seat-belts on all new buses.

In July, 2013, the NSW Government announced that seatbelts would be mandatory, and standing would be phased out, on school buses operated in rural and regional areas within 10 years. In June 2017, a second announcement expanded the scope to all buses operating under rural and regional contracts in NSW through a combination of replacement and retrofitting.

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There have been a number of issues with the retrofit project and only approx. 65 buses have been retrofit since they commenced late 2018. It is unlikely that the NSW Government can meet its targets, which involves retrofitting another 500 dedicated work school buses by December 2019, and an additional 985 school and route buses by December 2021, according to BusNSW.

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TASK FORCE ESTABLISHED

The project has created a number of unforeseen engineering and capacity issues that are impacting on customers, operators and government. The inclusion of ADR68 compliant seats on new low-floor buses has created some engineering challenges and a government policy for authorised standees is still outstanding, the organisation states.

The task force – which will include Transport for NSW, BusNSW and operator representatives – will undertake a prompt review of the seat-belt program, and will not impact on retrofit work that is in progress, it states.

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BusNSW executive director Matt Threlkeld said he was pleased that Minister Toole had taken a pragmatic approach to the program and recognised the need for a review.

"The task force will consider changes which provide customers with the best experience possible, give the NSW Government and taxpayers value for money, and ensure that safety remains the number one priority", Threlkeld said.

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"We are hoping that the task force can make recommendations that deliver a better result for all concerned and a realistic timeframe for government and industry to work with," Threlkeld said.

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