Inner West Courier: Fears over inner west bus shortage, mass cancellations forecast, as privatisation looms
By Heather McNab and David Barwell, read the full story here.
A CRITICAL shortage of bus drivers will cause mass service cancellations and pose safety risks to commuters when bus privatisation comes into force in the inner west, a Transport for NSW insider has warned.
Transit Systems, a privately operated bus company, needs to fill 200 positions by the time it takes over the state government’s State Transit Authority on July 1, according to the source.
However, the company has denied there is a shortage. A Transport for NSW spokesman also promised: “Transit Systems will be ready to deliver services for customers in the Inner West from 1 July.”
The company won the tender to operate buses in Region 6 which services suburbs from the CBD, heading west to Strathfield and Olympic Park, in February this year.
Now, a whistleblower from inside Transport for NSW has revealed the company is facing a staffing crisis which could leave the entire region in chaos.
The source, who asked not to be named, estimated the company needed to recruit a further 200 staff to meet the 1200 required for the contract area.
He said only 12-15 were being added to the books each week.
Rail, Train and Bus Union NSW Bus and Tram Division Secretary Chris Preston said since the state government announced Region 6 would be privatised more than 70 workers have transferred out of the region into other areas.
Even though existing drivers will be offered 18 month employment guarantees under Transit Systems, Mr Preston said there was “fear” among members about moving from the public to private sector.
“The biggest concern for Transit Systems is that they’ll be given a whole lot of drivers who will quit or transfer to other STA regions before July,” Mr Preston said.
“If Transit Systems was to come in with drivers 150 short they would have to contract out the work and in the worst case scenario may have to cancel services.”