ACTION buses were involved in more than 270 accidents over the past financial year an 18 per cent increase on the previous year.

Figures provided by ACTION show the bus fleet was involved in 272 accidents in 2007-08, up from 231 in 2006-07.

Seven of the accidents involved injuries to passengers or the driver.

ACTION general manager Tom Elliott said the increase in accidents could be partly attributed to an increase in the bus fleet.

There were 380 large buses on the road in the ACT which travelled more than 20 million km over the past year.

While he acknowledged many of the accidents were the fault of the driver, motorists were also to blame, particularly when it came to rear-end collisions with a stationary bus. In 2006-07, there were 51 rear-end collisions and 38 in 2007-08.

While the number had declined, Mr Elliott said the community still needed to be aware that buses frequently stopped.

”Usually these kinds of accidents occur when the bus is stationary at the bus stop or the bus is stopping,” he said.

”It might be that motorists are distracted by other traffic or the sunshine but they need to be aware that the bus actually stops.

”We can work on other areas to reduce bus accidents such as [bus] driver training but this is the area we have least control.”

Mr Elliott said motorists were generally courteous to bus drivers on Canberra’s roads, but some needed a reminder that buses had the right of way when they indicated they were exiting a bus stop and re-entering a lane.

”This is so the service can run in a timely fashion,” he said.

A lot of investment had been put into [bus] driver training so they were considerate road users and additional training was to continue into the future.

Shadow Transport Minister Steve Pratt said he was not ”overly alarmed” by the statistics but called for more respect from motorists, with many bus drivers telling him they had to take ”evasive action” to prevent accidents.

This mostly occurred when they were trying to pull out into a lane.

Mr Pratt said he thought the main issues facing the bus service were a lack of security on buses although he admitted this could improve with the Government’s expected roll-out of CCTV cameras and security at bus interchanges.

He said he had been told some interchanges had gone back to only being manned by one officer at night.

”I’m deeply concerned to hear that the Government has slipped back into a situation allowing only one ACTION officer to man these interchanges after dark,” he said.

But a spokeswoman for ACT Transport Minister John Hargreaves said it was incorrect.

”ACTION advise that there are two officers rostered at each interchange, each night,” she said.

Source: Canberra Times. Written by Emily Sherlock.

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