Some ACTION bus drivers are speeding and ignoring road rules to get to bus stops on time, with the whole service a ”schemozzle”.
A driver, who did not want to be named, said he had been with the service for more than 10 years and in that time had seen the service go from bad to worse.
He decided to contact the Sunday Canberra Times after reading last week’s article on the increase in accidents in the ACTION fleet, to provide his own reasoning why this might be.
He thought tight timetabling was to blame and said the ”pressure” drivers felt to get to stops on time had seen some drivers become ”cowboys”.
”There are some drivers who do go through give way and stop signs so they run on time,” he said. ”While they [ACTION] will just say ‘well we didn’t tell them to speed or drive like that’, it almost seems like you have no choice to make it on time.
”Drivers are under pressure all the time.”
He said the timetables needed to be altered by ”two, three even five minutes” to allow drivers more time to get to stops.
Morale was also low within the service and new drivers were becoming increasingly disillusioned by the job.
”Even the new guys come in and shake their heads,” he said.
Other concerns he raised were:
Buses still being over-crowded on some routes.
Some drivers running so far behind in timetable schedules they had no time for ”comfort stops”.
Drivers still concerned about the security at bus interchanges.
Road rage directed from other road users towards buses, with rocks, eggs and other projectiles being thrown.
Tension existing between bus drivers and supervisors.
Transport Workers Union ACT official Ben Sweaney said low morale within ACTION was a concern for the union, as was pressure on timetables.
”We will be working with the [ACT] Government and the Department to ensure everything is done to increase morale,” he said. ”We are also working with ACTION to ensure there are no unnecessary pressures placed on drivers or unrealistic expectations.”
ACT Shadow Transport Minister Steve Pratt said ACTION bus drivers had also approached him with concerns about ”increasing pressure on them to meet extremely tight deadlines” and security at bus interchanges.
A spokeswoman for Territory and Municipal Services said ACTION was ”committed to providing a safe and harmonious work environment” and was not aware of any issues between staff.
”Drivers are regularly reminded that ACTION does not condone exceeding the speed limit or ignoring regulations in order to meet timetables,” she said.
”All bus services have been timed to ensure drivers are able to meet scheduled timetables.
”If this is not the case, drivers are encouraged to provide feedback to our Network Planning Division.”
The spokeswoman said ACTION ”did not support” the comment that there was general disorganisation or low morale within ACTION.
By Emily Sherlock
10 Aug, 2008