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Union defends Sydney bus drivers -

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Union defends Sydney bus drivers

Lindy Kerin reported this story on Sunday, September 20, 2009 12:43:29

PETER CAVE: Watch out for New South Wales buses. Their drivers are under attack today, after the
release of new figures showing they were involved in more than 2000 crashes over the past year and
a half. The State Opposition is calling for action saying it's a public safety issue.

But the union representing drivers has hit back, saying it's not always the drivers who are at
fault.

Lindy Kerin reports.

LINDY KERIN: Every day Sydney buses get more than 600,000 commuters from A to B. For many it's the
quickest and easiest form of transport in the country's biggest city.

But new figures show that over the past 18 months Sydney buses have been involved more than 2,700
accidents. Of those, more than half have been caused by Sydney Transit Authority drivers.

The State's Opposition transport spokeswoman is Gladys Berejiklian.

GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: I think this situation is extremely bad. These figures demonstrate what a
terrible situation we do have with a number of incidents involving Sydney buses and we need to
ascertain the reasons behind this.

The State Government has an obligation to determine whether this is driver education, whether it's
motor education, whether it's the condition of the roads - there could be a number of factors
contributing to these high figures.

LINDY KERIN: Gladys Berejiklian says the New South Wales Government must address the situation
which she believes is a public safety issue.

GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: It's concerning the State Government is failing to acknowledge firstly that
there is a problem and secondly not taking any action to actually determine the causes of a number
of accidents. This affects everybody using the roads. It affects anybody in and around the roads.

LINDY KERIN: But the New South Wales Transport Minister David Campbell says the figures need to be
put into perspective. He says since October there has been a reduction of 21 per cent in the number
of accidents caused by bus drivers.

DAVID CAMPBELL: We have buses operating 24 hours a day. They've done 69 million kilometres since
last October. They have completed 4 million trips and just 0.01 of one per cent of those trips has
resulted in an accident. Every one of those is one too many. I accept that but it is only the
Opposition who would seek to be hysterical about this.

Overwhelmingly, people have a safe journey on Sydney buses and it is a Government expectation, a
Sydney Buses management expectation and from my discussion with bus drivers, it is their
expectation that they would operate as safely as is possible.

LINDY KERIN: Today David Campbell is defended State Transit Authority drivers and the level of
training provided.

DAVID CAMPBELL: Only the NSW Opposition would be stupid enough to suggest that there is not
training of bus drivers. There is a very rigorous program before they join the job and there is
ongoing training.

Where a bus driver is unfortunately involved in an accident, there is obviously some refresher
courses in some instances. In other instances, they are stood aside but you would only expect the
stupid, whinging, whining, carping New South Wales Opposition to suggest that there is no training
of bus operators by State Transit.

LINDY KERIN: Raul Boanza from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union has also weighed in. He says the
majority of the 2,000 accidents have been minor and it's not always the drivers fault.

RAUL BOANZA: We're not really talking about crashes. I mean the majority of them are small
incidents such as mirrors being knocked off by trucks and you know, very minor damage to buses and
vehicles that gets reported because of the environment in which the buses work.

I mean we got bus lanes in Parramatta Road where the bus is bigger than the bus lane and the buses
sticks out so what happens is that you know, moving vehicles and semi-trailers, they come over and
they hit the buses, they knock the mirrors off.

They count as accidents but they are the majority of the accidents that the buses are involved in
so it is an environmental issue more than anything else.

PETER CAVE: Raul Boanza from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union speaking to Lindy Kerin.