The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) has made a plea to operators as hundreds of bus services are being cancelled across Sydney every week as the city faces a critical bus driver shortage.
9News has reported that private bus operator Keolis Downer cancelled 489 bus services in the Northern Beaches in just five days at the end of last month.
Bus driver shortages recently encouraged a Bus Industry Taskforce Interim Report that called for action to support driver recruitment and retention to avoid such instances.
The report recommended workers to be provided with free Opal cards to support the industry and improve services by incentivising more drivers to get behind the wheel.
Wages of up to $100,000 to get behind the wheel are also being advertised with many saying this is not necessarily achievable without working plenty of overtime.
Tram and Bus Division President of the RTBU Peter Grech says “companies need to be able to be honest with their drivers when they’re recruiting”.
“I will say it’s achievable, but to do that, you must work 24 out of 28 days and probably around 12 hours a day, which is at fatigue limits,” he says.
“They’re putting in large sums that obviously for a bus driver is extremely hard to earn.
“People have a major expectation when they’re walking through the bus depot, and they don’t seem to be getting that money for many, many weeks after they start on the job.”
The RTBU claims a major issue is with the privatisation of the bus network.
“When operators took over from state transit, the government-owned body, the sponge was dry, now they continue to squeeze the sponge and the sponge is falling apart,” Grech says.
“Every day it gets worse and worse for my members.”
Grech claims that the issues are fixable, and that with support from Transport for NSW, a simple solution can be made.