Day in the life of a bus driver – David Babineau on FBI radio
The RTBU Tram and Bus Division’s Secretary David Babineau spoke out last month on the radio about being a bus driver and the current difficulties with bus privatisation.
Having driven buses for over six years, he’s familiar with the working conditions and the issues most drivers face.
Bus drivers do a lot more than just drive the bus. They’re an authority and can help if there’s any trouble on the bus. It’s a thankless job.
Typical working days can be up to 12 hours long with many drivers stuck at depots between peak hour shifts. During peak hours, some bus drivers even have to pass on bathroom breaks to ensure their buses run on schedule. It’s just expected and companies take advantage of drivers who are invested in the smooth running of the public transport system.
The introduction of privatisation in Newcastle and Sydney’s inner west has been a blow and the government’s reasoning for this has been unsatisfactory. It has meant that a lot of bus drivers are worse off. The company who employs new people gives them longer working hours and less penalties. Meanwhile, the company employing the drivers working before privatisation has started giving their rostered hours to newer drivers who cost less for the system and essentially puts people out of a job.
The government has been smart in using these private companies. They take over the operating of the buses but use the existing infrastructure so the government can create political distance when things go wrong. However, the government can also say taxpayers aren’t paying for any of the operating costs without mentioning that taxpayers are paying so much for infrastructure they already own.
He encourages everyone to speak out against privatisation by joining the union and taking action on the Our Transport site.