For publication: Authorised by Damien Haas, Deputy Chair PTCBR – 0400 962 920
NO MORE EXCUSES: TIME FOR BETTER WEEKEND BUSES
Passenger benefits must flow from bargaining outcomes between the ACT Government and Transport Canberra bus drivers, says the Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR). PTCBR Deputy Chair, Damien Haas is skeptical about the latest enterprise agreement for Transport Canberra drivers, saying that the ACT Government must now demonstrate that its decision not to require changes to rules about working weekends won’t undermine the much-delayed restoration of better weekend bus services.
PTCBR Deputy Chair, Damien Haas, said that “the ACT Government appears to have missed an opportunity to modernise work practices to ensure Transport Canberra can deliver a seven day bus network for a seven day city.”
“We’ve had 4 years of terrible service on weekends because Transport Canberra can’t find enough drivers”, said Mr Haas. “We’ve heard excuses about there being not enough drivers, COVID-19 and industrial arrangements. Since then we’ve had 4 years of recruitment campaigns, over 100 extra drivers, unplanned workplace absences are back to normal, and now they’ve made a new enterprise agreement. If Transport Canberra agreed to keep the current weekend working arrangements, this clearly means that it thinks it has the tools it needs to deliver hourly services on weekends, which Transport Canberra has failed to do since 2019.”
Mr Haas said there could be no more excuses: “Either Transport Canberra moves quickly to implement a new weekend timetable with at a minimum an hourly local bus service all Saturday and Sunday, or the Minister needs to start finding new leadership for Transport Canberra. Thousands of Canberrans rely on weekend buses to get to where they need to be. It’s not acceptable to leave these people waiting at bus stops for up to 2 hours.”
Every Transport Canberra bus driver receives a 25% composite allowance on top of their base salary, which accounts for payment for public holidays, shift penalty rates, overtime rates and related allowances. Mr Haas said it was important that ACT ratepayers were getting value for money out of this arrangement. “If Transport Canberra is paying an allowance for drivers to work weekends, but we can’t find any weekend drivers, then it’s worth questioning whether we should have the allowance at all.”
Damien Haas is the Deputy Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra region’s peak public transport lobby group.