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Auditor gives ACTION a failing mark

johnboy 29 August 2010 52

[First filed: Aug 26, 2010 @ 17:58]

ACTION bus in Civic

The ACT’s Auditor-General has delivered her report “Delivery of ACTION Bus Services” and it is not pretty.

From the media release:

    The audit concludes that TAMS has not coordinated and managed bus services delivered by
    ACTION in an effective manner.

    Governance and management

    • The delivery of bus services and associated infrastructure involves ACTION, other business units within TAMS (particularly Roads ACT and Transport Regulation and Planning) and other ACT Government agencies such as the ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA). The various activities were not well coordinated and lacked proper planning.
    • TAMS has not fully complied with key legislation including the ACT Road Transport (Public Passenger Services) Act 2001 and Regulations, the Minimum Service Standards for Bus Services, the ACT Discrimination Act 1991 and the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992.
    • ACTION collected a significant amount of data but poor data management practices undermined the completeness and integrity of the data. This is likely to impede ACTION’s ability to improve services and provide the ACT Government with sound advice on meeting current and future needs for public bus services in the ACT.

    Timeliness and reliability of bus services:

    • There were no performance indicators or standards established for the reliability of bus services to guide ACTION’s operations and to increase its accountability.
    • ACTION has considerable fleet management knowledge, but this knowledge was not
    supported by approved policies and procedures. For example, there were no approved guidelines for relevant staff about which bus runs should be cancelled. This was addressed mostly through the corporate knowledge of the staff involved.
    • Each bus depot and interchange produced the daily Service Delivery Reports that identified which runs were dropped each day from bus routes. The data used for these reports was inaccurate and incomplete. As a result, the rate of bus failures reported to, or used by, ACTION management was likely to be under-estimated.
    • Of the 500 cancelled services reviewed by Audit, cancellations were due to either a shortage of drivers (83 percent), or of buses (16 percent). There was no evidence of ACTION having developed and implemented strategies to effectively address these on-going issues.

    Safety

    • ACTION did not report bus accidents to the Road Transport Authority as required by legislation. Bus accidents increased by 39 percent from 157 in 2008-09 to 219 in 2009-10. The rate of collision in bus depots (10 percent) and on roads in which liability was accepted by ACTION (23 percent) suggested that there was scope for improved safety through reducing preventable collisions.
    • The Road Transport (Public Passenger Service) Regulations 2002 requires pre-departure bus checks to be undertaken daily. ACTION was unable to supply documentation to confirm that such safety checks were conducted by bus drivers.
    • There were no formal processes or policies in place to provide scheduled refresher courses for ACTION’s drivers to update their knowledge and driving skills, or to refresh and develop their skills in other aspects of safety, security and customer services.
    • ACTION has not prepared procedures for operations of its CCTVs on buses, to ensure protection of the privacy of the individual and prevention of possible misuse of the CCTVs.
    • There were inadequate policies and procedures to address complaints about drivers with unsafe driving practices.

    Ticketing

    • Problems with ACTION’s current Automated Ticketing System have been documented for several years. Plans to introduce a replacement system have been frequently delayed. This has led to:
    – the collection of inadequate and unreliable data on types of passengers and their travel patterns;
    – a lack of reliable data to better plan, develop, fund and deliver services;
    – substantial losses of revenue; and
    – additional financial costs for maintaining outdated equipment.
    • The ACT Government has announced a new ticketing system to be trialled in 2010. This system should be capable of capturing a substantial amount of data, for example, passenger travel patterns and fare types. Until this system is fully operational, there will be continued loss of revenue and a lack of reliable data for ACTION and the ACT Government to better plan, develop, fund and deliver services.

    Bus infrastructure and services

    • Coordination between various business units within TAMS and other relevant ACT Government agencies for bus infrastructure and services was inadequate.
    For example:
    – there was no overall master plan to coordinate the planning and provision of bus infrastructure; and
    – there was no robust governance and accountability structure to clarify responsibilities for construction, maintenance, performance and reporting mechanisms for the management of bus infrastructure.
    • Much of the bus infrastructure did not meet standards prescribed under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the ACT Discrimination Act 1991.

    Customer service

    • ACTION provided a good front portal through Canberra Connect for receiving complaints and feedback
    • ACTION responded to the majority of complaints on a timely basis. However, responses to complaints and feedback were not always accurate and appropriate actions were not followed.
    • ACTION did not have a customer service charter that outlined the nature and standard of services, rights, and responsibilities of ACTION and passengers.

Audit report cover


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52 Responses to Auditor gives ACTION a failing mark
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Deref Deref 2:15 pm 11 Sep 10

PaulM said :

With this myWay GPS thingo, pay drivers a bonus for being on time (ie: arrive not more than 2 min late, do not leave before the correct time) at each marked stop in the timetable. Make it worth their while.

I’ll bet the union will oppose it: the usually hate performance monitoring.

Or better – dock them for doing the opposite without good reason.

PaulM PaulM 9:46 am 10 Sep 10

With this myWay GPS thingo, pay drivers a bonus for being on time (ie: arrive not more than 2 min late, do not leave before the correct time) at each marked stop in the timetable. Make it worth their while.

I’ll bet the union will oppose it: the usually hate performance monitoring.

STOLEN CAR STOLEN CAR 9:37 pm 09 Sep 10

How about a Bus service to OAKS ESTATE ????

max4073 max4073 7:52 pm 05 Sep 10

Let me get this right, being a senior member of police allows you to do want you want without recourse…..

fgzk fgzk 4:59 pm 05 Sep 10

If it was a police car that wasn’t “speed certified” then this could happen. Apparently you should ask to see the “speed certification” of the police vehicle. Was the bus driver also a senior police officer? They also get a dispensation. You really need to get the facts before you jump to any conclusions.

max4073 max4073 1:17 pm 05 Sep 10

Amomgsts other things, i have heard of bus drivers being detected for traveling in excess of 40km ove r the limit and getting away with simple caution notices. Must be a Canberra thing!

merlin bodega merlin bodega 10:08 am 02 Sep 10

I too have been on the buses since the early 1980’s except for when I needed private transport to manage child care and the early school years. The ACTION buses are too unreliable if you really have to be somewhere at a certain time. The service is not what it was and with bus routes that go huge distances the chances of creating a manageable service are getting harder. All the things that people have written here are likely to be ignored by the Chiefly Minister who at my bus stop we know as Mr 30 per cent. That’s how much bus fares have gone up by in his latest term, while he muses provocatively about having free rides.
We saw the colour of his money when the Barton Highway bridge collapsed. The first thing he did was close down the bus lane on Flemington Road making it even more difficult for the bus travellers from Gungahlin to get to work than it was already with services that don’t turn up, a lack of adequate shelters and infrequent services. His lack of effort in setting up accountabilities and governance at ACTION has created this mess. It’s time for him to go.

Bussie Bussie 12:47 pm 31 Aug 10

astrojax said :

that said, does the number of spare drivers usually adequately cover contingencies? if so, how are the route cancellations explained?

There are usually enough spares but I’ve got no idea of a figure. Cancellations explained to whom?

Even if there are spares available routes are still cancelled. Say a bus breaks down as it departs Fairbairn. It will take at least 30mins for another bus to get there from either depot. There are also sometimes shortages of buses, typically around 0730 and 1530 when nearly all the shifts for the respective peaks have started.

Bussie Bussie 12:39 pm 31 Aug 10

MJay said :

dvaey said :

essfer said :

2. We’d all whinge if we knew there were people getting paid tax dollars to sit around with their thumbs up their arses.

I hope those people dont find out what firefighters do during down time between call-outs. Sometimes its worth paying someone for a full shift, even though they might only be needed once or twice, or even not at all on occasion.

Don’t firefighters do training drills, run education programs, maintain their equipment/vehicles, workout to stay fit aswell as yes get some rest whilst on shift? (and of course attend any emergency calls during that time)

Maybe the bus drivers who are on standby could follow suit. Perhaps a little customer service training followed by road safety and road rule training? 😀

AFAIK firies have training and other scheduled activities on their day shifts but nothing on their night shifts except emergency callouts should they arise.

Funky1 Funky1 1:24 pm 30 Aug 10

Martlark said :

The Auditor’s report did not reveal any great failing on Action’s part. Not fully complying with some minor red tape and form filling is not a substantial fault. For the most part the buses in Canberra do a good job with dealing with the awfully spreadout city and the low number of people who need public transport.

So you regard not complying with safety regulations, the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the ACT Discrimination Act 1991 as minor red tape??

Dracon388 Dracon388 9:12 am 30 Aug 10

If I could have one wish for ACTION as I rely upon them – it would be for the bloody Sunday buses to run later then 7pm – makes it impossible to do anything on a sunday evening – or even return home late from interstate without having to rely on cabs.

Eirlys Eirlys 12:39 am 30 Aug 10

Martlark said :

The Auditor’s report did not reveal any great failing on Action’s part. Not fully complying with some minor red tape and form filling is not a substantial fault. For the most part the buses in Canberra do a good job with dealing with the awfully spreadout city and the low number of people who need public transport.

I am sorry but I am sick of the “spread out city” remark. I read not long ago that Zurich is a spread out city but manages public transport quite well. Canberra may have new suburbs but all suburbs should have reasonable access to public transport to “encourage” users of public transport, plus don’t build the suburbs if you don’t have the infrastructure to support them.

And the “low number” of people using public transport- from what I read any statistics gathered are not reliable because ACTION has no way of producing reliable figures. So how on earth can that all encompassing statement be made? I would say that the majority of Canberrans use private transport to get to work, yes I agree with that- that does not mean a “low” percentage of people use public transport. The other question would be why?

The auditor general’s report definitely strongly told the ACTION management that they are not managing the system well, if at all. From my reading of the report there was hardly a nice thing to say about ACTION at all in the report.

Martlark Martlark 5:44 pm 29 Aug 10

The Auditor’s report did not reveal any great failing on Action’s part. Not fully complying with some minor red tape and form filling is not a substantial fault. For the most part the buses in Canberra do a good job with dealing with the awfully spreadout city and the low number of people who need public transport.

ML-585 ML-585 12:12 pm 29 Aug 10

astrojax said :

ta bussie – your representative didn’t seem to know / indicate this in his appalling interview and was keen to blame sickies… perhaps someone ought to up him (am sure a transcript of ross solly’s show wouldn’t be hard to get hold of to find the perpe-traitor..?

that said, does the number of spare drivers usually adequately cover contingencies? if so, how are the route cancellations explained?

Although I didn’t hear this radio interview myself, I am reliably informed that the ACTION “Representative” was none other than Tom Elliott – former ACTION General Manager and now the TAMS Director of Transport and Infrastructure Division (which includes ACTION and Roads ACT). In other words, the person to whom the Auditor General’s report was directed.

It is appalling that he would seek to shift the blame onto drivers when what was being criticised was how management responds to driver absences, not the absences themselves. It is a fact of life that drivers get sick and that more are likely to get sick during winter. (And before anyone asks – ACT Government does provide free flu vaccinations for bus drivers.)

The question that needs to be answered is how many extra drivers are ACT taxpayers willing to pay for to cover these absences vs how many dropped bus runs are they willing to put up with.

MJay MJay 7:05 pm 28 Aug 10

dvaey said :

essfer said :

2. We’d all whinge if we knew there were people getting paid tax dollars to sit around with their thumbs up their arses.

I hope those people dont find out what firefighters do during down time between call-outs. Sometimes its worth paying someone for a full shift, even though they might only be needed once or twice, or even not at all on occasion.

Don’t firefighters do training drills, run education programs, maintain their equipment/vehicles, workout to stay fit aswell as yes get some rest whilst on shift? (and of course attend any emergency calls during that time)

Maybe the bus drivers who are on standby could follow suit. Perhaps a little customer service training followed by road safety and road rule training? 😀

dvaey dvaey 10:28 am 28 Aug 10

essfer said :

2. We’d all whinge if we knew there were people getting paid tax dollars to sit around with their thumbs up their arses.

I hope those people dont find out what firefighters do during down time between call-outs. Sometimes its worth paying someone for a full shift, even though they might only be needed once or twice, or even not at all on occasion.

rodneyrooster rodneyrooster 9:53 am 28 Aug 10

We all should remember that this is a bus service. It operates on the same roads that motorists use everyday. The same roads that are subject to peak hour congestion, that are subject to road work delays, accidents etc. Ask any motorist if they are finding it’s taking them longer to get to work every day, if so, then expect the bus to also run late. And here we have the Greens securing a deal to provide a 3 month trial of a late night bus service (to get the drunks home over summer) in exchange for support to a change to liquor licencing rules. Surely these funds would have been better used in paying for more mechanics to keep the “day time” buses on the road or more “spare” drivers to cover breakdowns or sick leave?

Ryan Ryan 10:20 pm 27 Aug 10

sepi said :

In the 80s ACTION had an after hours ‘area bus’ system, whereby 2 bus routes were combined, and those hopping on the bus told the bus driver where they lived. The bus drove to those stops only to drop everyone off. Many bus drivers drove a bit closer to people’s homes if time allowed. It was a great system. (NB I also lived in Torrens – maybe it only worked there…)

It didn’t work back then, and it didn’t work when they revived it a few years ago as “Flexibus”

One could theoretically expect the area bus concept to be revived again in or around the year 2024..

Hells_Bells74 Hells_Bells74 10:03 pm 27 Aug 10

Oh damn three post nutbag here but I should add I remembered peak hour mornings there may’ve been a few more than max one on the bus. Been a while since I’ve caught a pre-8.30am bus.

Regardless, I wouldn’t question if it was a busy run that day, just couldn’t work out the previous run could totally affect it. Makes sense to me now.

Shanski_Dee Shanski_Dee 9:03 pm 27 Aug 10

I get the bus every day to work, I live in Weston, and work out at Brindabella business park.

For the last 3 days, the bus that takes me from Woden to Brindabella hasn’t shown up. The bus normally leaves Woden at 7:28, the next bus doesn’t appear until 8:15, Which means i will be late to work because of the no show.

Something must be done about this, It costs $40-50 one way from Woden to Brindabella in a taxi, and driving is not an option.

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