Opinion, QBIC

QBIC on the general state of play

From the newest trends relating to zero-emissions buses to workforce issues and disability access standards, QBIC is working across the board to serve the industry

The talk on everyone’s lips at the moment is zero-emissions buses, whether it be battery electric or hydrogen electric. But we should not forget hybrid, Euro 6 and bio-fuels. All can play a role in reducing pollutants, assisting in our transition to achieve our zero emission targets. We need to examine the region, its ability to provide the required infrastructure and charging capability and capacity. Then, our industry can adopt the fit for purpose vehicle that delivers the best outcome for the environment and customer experience. Moving to a green energy environment is not going to happen quickly, as we need to further develop these technologies and roll them out in a cost-effective manner, ensuring certainty in recharge availability and sustainability.

As an industry, we are fortunate. We’re fortunate to have a national body, the Bus Industry Confederation of Australia (BIC). The BIC provides us with a national presence, to voice our needs and our concerns, not only from a bus company’s perspective, but also from a manufacturing and supply point of view. This is clearly demonstrated through the BIC ZEB Committee, chaired by Stephen Lucas. Given Stephen’s vast experience and knowledge, we could not be in a better position at a national level as we pursue uniformity in training and standards, just to name one movement.

The workforce is not only a problem in Queensland, but also nationally. It’s a problem that we are collectively pursuing through the Australian Public Transport Industrial Association (APTIA), led by Ian MacDonald. Through representation via our Industrial Working Group (IWG), Ian prepared an APTIA submission to the Treasury Employment White Paper. Ian’s submission on behalf of our industry included:

  • That public transport should be considered an essential service
  • The need for more flexible working arrangements, which includes our older demographic of worker, involving a relaxation of pension and superannuation measures restricting this older employment group
  • Protecting the right of our workforce to remain in casual employment, whilst at the same time enabling flexibilities, including banking of wages
  • Providing a better pathway to employers to recruit bus drivers from overseas.

We remain hopeful that the Treasurer adopts the recommendations put forward in the submission.

Looking back, 2022 was a busy year in Queensland, with significant changes in our Prescribed School Service Contract (PSSC) sector, driver shortages, pilot commencement of the Tracking and Ticketing Solution (TATS) for school bus Operators and the launch of our 100-year history booklet to name a few. The Queensland Bus Industry Council (QBIC) can be proud of what is has achieved in partnership with Minister Bailey, Deputy Director-General Sally Stannard and their respective teams, such as:

  • Seven-year contract terms for kilometre-based operators and three-year extensions for fares-based operators
  • A new payment model and simple indexation for school bus operators
  • Engagement with the state in developing the new Cluster Prescribed School Services contract, or Cluster contract model, which should start to rollout in 2023

QBIC will continue to work with the BIC and APTIA to address driver shortages, Skilled Migration and the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations. QBIC will work to ensure the industry’s position and concerns are tabled as part of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT) review.

We have a great industry here in Australia – an industry that supports and represents above its weight. If you are not a member of your respective state-based association, now is the time to consider coming onboard. These are changing times and we are stronger when we come together as a unified industry.

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