Dollars and sense at STA
Tell us what is REALLY going to make STA more efficient.
All members will be aware that STA CEO Peter Rowley has done a tour of depots trying to convince drivers to accept changes to the Enterprise Agreement he negotiated with drivers not one year ago – all in the name of “efficiency”.
Mr Rowley says drivers must accept cuts to wages and conditions to stop the future privatisation of State Transit. But some drivers have their own ideas about what would actually make STA more efficient.
At one of the depot meeting a member asked what Mr Rowley would be doing to stop the huge amount of money lost to STA through fare evasion every day. The member wanted to know why drivers were being asked to take a hit while this continued to happen. All Mr Rowley could say was it shouldn’t be drivers’ concern.
It’s true, it shouldn’t be drivers’ concern, but when they are being asked to accept cuts to hard fought wages and conditions to “save” themselves from privatisation it becomes their concern.
We know slashing wages and conditions is no way to make bus services better or more efficient. This is just short term thinking.
Drivers know the bus network better than anyone. And we know how it could be improved. Actually improved.
So give us your ideas! We have already received information from a member on how much could be saved if STA dealt with fare evasion on buses, but what else could be done?
Comment below to have your say.
When good faith turns bad
In 2011 the RTBU negotiated a new Enterprise Agreement with the State Transit Authority.
Both parties came to the table in good faith to find an arrangement that would shape the next three years at STA. Both parties negotiated hard but in the end an agreement was put to members and they voted with a resounding yes.
But now STA wants to go back on that Agreement. It says efficiencies have to be made and it wants them to be made by drivers.
STA CEO Peter Rowley says reform must come or we face a “very real chance that our bus services could possibly be put out to tender in the future”. He says we need to “identify areas that are seen as inefficient compared to the private bus industry” and reform them.
With these as a rationale Mr Rowley wants to introduce what have become known as the Rowley Reforms; seeking to introduce more casual workers and part time broken shifts.
Mr Rowley wants to introduce these without the consent of drivers, arguing they do not constitute Award variations. The union strenuously opposes these changes and will fight any attempt to introduce them.
He has also outlined a number of other reforms he wishes to pursue which have been outlined to members in recent correspondence from the union, one of the worst being the abolition of accumulated days off (ADO).
The union has discussed this with delegates and just as members voted with a resounding yes to the current agreement, they have come back with a resounding no on these variations.
Drivers will not be pressured into accepting lesser conditions particularly when STA can’t guarantee services won’t be privatised in the future. The union has made this clear to Mr Rowley and will continue to stand firm against this attempt to backflip on the Agreement that was made in good faith in 2011.
Bus tunnel flagged as solution to CBD congestion
Infrastructure NSW released its 20-year strategy for NSW last week, identifying what it felt the infrastructure priorities should be for the state.
One of the major projects identified by the body is an underground tunnel for buses in the CBD. It recommended:
A CBD Transit Improvement Plan that involves construction of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) bypass tunnel for CBD bus services to take most peak buses off congested streets, delivering better travel times for passengers. It would also involve providing bus/rail underground interchanges at redeveloped Wynyard and Town Hall stations.
You can read more about the Bus and Tram plans here.
Divisional President Gary Way said details for the project were still unclear but if it was done properly and with consideration for future capacity needs, it would be welcomed by drivers struggling every day with CBD congestion.
What do you think? Are these good ideas or just another transport pipe dream?
Government announces CBD congestion cure
Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian announced this week that the NSW Government would implement a number of initiatives to reduce congestion and improve reliability for buses coming into the Sydney CBD from the north.
The Minister says the changes will be implemented from early next year and that work was already underway to see some of these delivered.
To begin with the Government will re-direct more than seven per cent of current morning peak bus services coming across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and entering the city by York Street.
This will see around 60 morning peak buses from the North West enter the city by the Cahill Expressway and travel down Bridge, Pitt, Hunter and Castlereagh streets before terminating at Market Street.
Other initiatives already in progress to deal with congestion include:
- The formation of a dedicated Police motorcycle team for the CBD of Sydney, to specifically deal with congestion and avoid traffic stopping in intersections
- Sydney Harbour Bridge toll booth removal
- Double decker bus trial
- Introduction of bus marshals
- Traffic signaling and parking changes.
What do you think of these initiatives? Will they work? What else needs to be done?
Calling all bus drivers: Share your story
Bus drivers provide around 15 000 services every day to the people NSW and this number is set to grow.
They drive buses under a variety of conditions. They often face extreme traffic congestion in the city, they provide services to communities that would otherwise be left stranded and they deal with the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with transporting people at all hours of the day and night, seven days a week.
But transport services are under the microscope. We’ve all heard about the plans to “fix” public transport in NSW. And we’ve all heard the talk about privatising services being the answer.
There is no doubt that NSW commuters deserve safer and more frequent services but is privatisation really the answer?
Just this week two bus breakdowns near Wynyard created mass delays for commuters with no other way to get home.
This comes hot on the heels of a speech given by Anthony Albanese in which he told an anecdote about the 19th Century horse-drawn (?)bus now housed at the Powerhouse Museum:
By 1910, the plodding pace of the horse buses, the increasing cost of feed and intense competition from cable and electric trams brought the horse-bus era to an end.
But what’s interesting about this particular omnibus is the time it took to plod the route from the Quay to Woollahra—40 minutes.
If you check the Sydney Buses web-site, you’ll see that the modern day equivalent along that same route—the 333 express bendy-bus—manages the same route in 36 minutes—a saving of just four minutes.
Certainly this can’t go on. Bus services face increased traffic and transport patronage in partnership with reduced spending on the sorts of infrastructure that would address congestion problems.
But despite the challenging environment in which bus drivers are working we know that commuters still have generally positive attitudes to bus services.
This is in no small part due to the hard work of drivers. Drivers take pride in their work and do everything they can to provide a quality service.
Tell us your story
We know that drivers do a great job but now we want to give you the chance to tell us all about it.
We want to hear all about your story of going above and beyond. Tell us about your regular passengers, the routes that you drive and why they are important or anything you think adds to the service that STA provides.
Get sharing in the comments section below!
Let’s make sure we are ready
After the Kingsgrove BBQ the RTBU recently held, we received a great letter from one of our members. It said:
Thank you to you, Chris & David for coming to our depot & extending a very welcome gesture through a simple BBQ.
I think we have made a few giant leaps towards building unity (at Kingsgrove at least)…..something we will desperately need in the months ahead.
Many thanks to all three gents for your efforts today.
It’s a great letter, not because it thanks the union (though we are glad he enjoyed the BBQ), but because it recognises something important.
It recognises that our union strength comes from working together. And it recognises we have a fight ahead.
There are big changes coming for transport in NSW. Some of those changes have already started.
It started with Barry O’Farrell’s attack on public sector workers, capping our pay at 2.5% and reducing the powers of the Industrial Relations Commission.
Now we have had the recent announcement of competitive tendering for private bus operators and 750 voluntary redundancies and a restructure at RailCorp.
These changes leave us in no doubt about this government’s attitude towards transport workers as it rolls out its plans to “fix” NSW transport.
But when RTBU members come together we are a force to be reckoned with and we won’t tolerate attacks on fellow transport workers.
So let’s make sure we are ready to work together.
Confirm your details with the union now by updating them in the right-hand column of the website and make sure you come along to the next BBQ at your depot, meet your RTBU officials and have some lunch with your workmates.
Union slams STA accident policy
How dare State Transit penalise us when someone crashes into our bus!!
If you are being hassled by management for NOT RESPONSIBLE ACCIDENTS, the union needs to know.
Tram & Bus Division President Gary Way says,”We will not tolerate State Transit’s policy of penalising bus drivers for not responsible accidents”.
Members who can provide an example of this practice are asked to advise their local delegate who will forward the details to the Union Office in Redfern. If suitable examples are obtained, it is anticipated that officials will be well positioned to instigate a “State Transit-Wide” dispute.
“This is the most unfair policy ever written,” said Mr Way, “and enough is enough, we will fight State Transit to the bitter end.
If you have had an experience with this, tell us about it below and be sure to contact your local delegate straight away.
It’s enough: More violence on Sydney Buses
Yet more footage has come to light showing the behaviour that drivers are having to cope with from unruly, rude and violent passengers, after this story ran earlier in the month about the worst bus routes in Sydney.
Divisional President Gary Way appeared on Channel 9 last Monday after this footage was discovered by the news team there
Gary explained how driving a bus is a difficult and sometimes dangerous occupation. It was clear from the footage that the bus driver did the right thing – he stayed calm and followed emergency procedures ensuring the safety of passengers on the bus.
But doing the right thing came at a cost to his own personal safety and this shouldn’t be the case. A more visible security presence is needed on buses. The union is extremely concerned about the lack of security personnel and prominent security cameras available on buses.
Have you had a similar experience to this driver? Are there routes that you don’t like driving because they are particularly bad?
Share your story with us below.
Dude, what’s up with your bus?
Bus drivers know, however, that mouldy seats are only the tip of the iceberg.
Things that don’t work, maintenance problems that never get fixed, gas buses that spontaneously blow up …
There are issues out there that need to raised, and Bus Express is the place to raise them.
So let loose and tell us what’s up with your bus. Leave a comment below now!
Who knows, we might even be able to get it fixed!
Boss for a day: Tell us how you would improve Sydney bus services
When it comes to public transport, everyone has an idea about how it can be improved.
The State Government says it’s willing to listen to everyone’s ideas.
What’s more, it has promised to deliver a Long-Term Transport Masterplan for the NSW public transport system over the next 20 years.
The Minister for Transport will be releasing a discussion paper in February, before conducting a series of regional forums around the State.
A draft version of the Long-Term Masterplan is due to be released for public consultation in the middle of the year, before the final version is released in November.
This could mean big changes to the operation of Sydney’s bus services, and to the future of our jobs.
It’s important that we get involved in this process and have our say – otherwise we could be stuck with all sorts of changes thought up by people who don’t understand how bus services work.
Already, people are making suggestions about radical changes. Transport consultant Jarrett Walker, for example, made some interesting suggestions that were featured in a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald.
What do you think? How would you go about improving STA bus services?
If you’ve been keeping some ideas in your head, then it’s time to set those ideas free.
Now’s the time to tell us your ideas for improving STA bus services!
Just write your comments below to get the ball rolling.
Welcome to Bus Express!
Divisional Secretary Chris Preston & Divisional President Gary Way
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Dollars and sense at STA
Tell us what is REALLY going to make STA more efficient.
All members will be aware that STA CEO Peter Rowley has done a tour of depots trying to convince drivers to accept changes to the Enterprise Agreement he negotiated with drivers not one year ago - all in the name of "efficiency"....
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