Illawarra bus drivers pushed to meet 'unrealistic' timetables

Bus drivers in the Illawarra are under pressure to meet ‘‘unrealistic’’ timetables set by the NSW government, according to a NSW trade union.

The state branch of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) on Monday released a survey involving drivers from the Illawarra, Newcastle and Sydney.

Among the findings were that  55 per cent of bus drivers reported vehicle maintenance not being carried out and  90 per cent said they felt pressured to drive unsafely by the government-implemented schedules.

Wollongong TWU secretary Nick McIntosh said timetable stresses were more prevalent than maintenance issues.

‘‘The reasons partially relate to competitive tendering and partially to the key performance indicators that the state government has introduced with all these new contracts,’’ Mr McIntosh said.

‘‘They want to have 95 per cent on-time running of buses. It sounds reasonable but along with that they’ve introduced all these unreasonable timetables.’’

 According to the survey, 78 per cent of drivers experience abuse from passengers because of the timetables.

‘‘If a bus driver thinks they’re under pressure to meet some unrealistic deadline it means that anyone who uses the road or goes near the road is at risk,’’ Mr McIntosh said.

A Transport for NSW spokesman said the new bus contracts did not include any timetable changes imposed by the government.

‘‘Operators submitted tenders to win the new contracts based on existing bus timetables which have operated safely for some time,’’ he said.

‘‘Private bus operators regularly meet with drivers and unions to discuss concerns.’’

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