Government releases action plan to fix weekend bus services

Lachlan Roberts 18 September 2019 34
weekend bus network

Mr Steel said the “roadmap” sets out 10 measures that will improve the reliability of the weekend bus network. Photo: File.

ACT Transport Minister Chris Steel believes a new recruiting program will help fix the shortage of weekend bus drivers which has thrown the service into disarray.

The recruitment drive is one of 10 strategies outlined in the ACT Government’s action plan designed to make the weekend service more reliable.

The action plan recommends the Government provide longer shifts to drivers to make weekend work more attractive, spread workloads between the Belconnen and Tuggeranong depots, as well as increase the number of stand-by drivers to cover unexpected absences or vehicle breakdowns.

According to the action plan, Transport Canberra recruited an additional 60 drivers before the new network was introduced with the expectation that they would help deliver a consistently reliable weekend service. But due to a high rate of drivers “unaligned” with the new network and other factors, Transport Canberra was “unable to meet our expected level of reliability”, the plan said.

Mr Steel acknowledged that the reliability of weekend bus services operated by Transport Canberra does not meet the expectations of Canberrans, but he said the action plan will make the service more reliable.

“The action plan outlines a range of adjustments to improve recruitment efforts which will help deliver incremental increases to the frequency of local services,” Mr Steel said. “This includes transitioning from an annual recruitment campaign to a continuous campaign, as well as prioritising candidates interested in weekend work.”

Previously, Transport Canberra undertook recruitment drives once a year but with the growing demand for additional drivers, Transport Canberra has now implemented an improved continuous recruitment program.

Since 29 April, a total of 68 new drivers have signed up for training, with 36 now on the road driving buses. A further 250 applications have been received since mid-July.

In the medium to long term, Mr Steel said the ACT Government will consult with staff and unions to identify potential changes and incentives in the drivers’ enterprise agreement to deliver a reliable, weekend public transport network.

The current agreement does not force drivers to work weekends, and if they choose to they are not paid weekend penalty rates.

Mr Steel said the interim weekend timetable, which will launch on 28 September, will be released later this week while they incrementally increase weekend services to meet the Network 19 plan.

Mr Steel said the new timetable will retain frequent Rapid services – which make up 70 per cent of boardings – as well as extended hours of coverage with some reduction to local services.

“We know that if Canberrans plan a bus trip, they expect that bus to turn up. We listened to the community and we have developed a roadmap that sets out 10 measures to improve reliability for public transport users,” Mr Steel said.

“I am confident these range of short-term, medium-term and longer-term actions will deliver an improved weekend bus service while also providing a range of improvements which will benefit future weekday bus services as well.”

Click here to read the ACT Government’s action plan in full.

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34 Responses to Government releases action plan to fix weekend bus services
Matt Casey Matt Casey 8:48 pm 19 Sep 19

It’s a mystery to me

Aldith Graves Aldith Graves 7:42 pm 19 Sep 19

Recruit more drivers specifically for weekends & evenings on penalty rates separate from the current cadre of drivers

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 6:33 am 20 Sep 19

    Aldith Graves they can’t do that ... you can’t half half the work force on seperate EBA’s

Peter McArdle Peter McArdle 1:53 pm 19 Sep 19

This article about ACTION plans to fix the buses reads like an episode of the Chaser’s “Utopia”.

When the consultants who ran the policy analyses, the steering committees, the task forces, the implementation teams, painted the buses a different colour and set the KPIs have left, you then move on to the next step.

The next step is to make the !&$#@! mess work. When you realise that it is a monumental stuff up, you move onto the next step.

The next step is to develop an ACTION plan (or plans). Such ACTION plans, of course will be written by consultants, probably the ones who caused the mess. But it delays anyone taking responsibility for the stuff up.

(The solution is obvious but, with a solution, the consultants would not make as much money. As any person with any knowledge of running a 7 day a week service will tell you, you have to roster staff to run the service 7 days a week. Even the new tram service has drivers on 7 day rosters. But, for the bus drivers, weekend work is optional and overtime. Wtf 😳.

Of course the TWU has enormous power in the ACT ALP. Ministers etc would lose preselection if they upset the TWU.

Any bets on how many years (decades?) it will be before Canberra gets a reliable weekend bus service?)

    Peter McArdle Peter McArdle 7:43 pm 19 Sep 19

    Colette Robinson The current bus drivers’ EBA was only agreed recently, while the tram line was being built. It has years to run. Buses have run 7 days per week for generations. Why was it not fixed decades ago?

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 9:54 pm 19 Sep 19

    even if the EBA ran out next month, they wouldn’t and couldn’t renegotiate a worse deal than they currently have. The unions and drivers wouldn’t vote for it.

    Whoever’s idea this EBA was and agreed to it, is a fool.

Tracy Hancock Tracy Hancock 6:59 am 19 Sep 19

In March, I wrote to the minister for disabilities about people with disabilities having difficulty accessing particular services and facilities in Canberra and how will the government address this etc. Public transport, frequent changes, cut services and closed bus stops were issues I raised. The minister for disabilities did not bother to respond. Chris Steel responded instead (just 2 weeks ago - that’s took 6 months) and only talked about more frequent services and cctv cameras. It was a standard response that did not even attempt to address any difficulties for people with disabilities. This government is either full of complete morons who have no idea what they are doing OR they just don’t care. Take your pick which one you think it is when you vote in next years election 😡

Ben Jones Ben Jones 6:39 am 19 Sep 19

Pretty simple. You need a new EBA with gives the drivers penalty rates on weekends and nights.

But in saying that, then the weekday drivers who are cruising through on higher rates of pay will never sign off or agree to such a change. So that EBA change will never get through.

Just admit it , whoever came up with a flat rate idea for all hours worked never themselves worked after hours or weekends in their life and they just didn’t understand

maxblues maxblues 1:17 am 19 Sep 19

Reliable weekend Public Transport like other Australian cities would be a welcome change.

Stas Idowu Stas Idowu 7:24 pm 18 Sep 19

Times up! ACT Election next year

Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 5:38 pm 18 Sep 19

Will the new drivers be on the same contracts where working weekends is optional?

    Steve Hegs Steve Hegs 7:11 pm 18 Sep 19

    Shane Jasprizza it’s a joke! Why would anyone want to work weekends if you don’t have to?

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 7:21 pm 18 Sep 19

    Steve, hence the current cluster-f....

    Dave Lenihan Dave Lenihan 8:53 pm 18 Sep 19

    I bet the new drivers wont be on that little workplace agreement, that will only be for the old guard.

    Michael Egan Michael Egan 9:09 pm 18 Sep 19

    I wouldn't work weekends for no penalty rates either

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 6:40 am 19 Sep 19

    Ian McLeod you cant have one rule for new drivers and one for the old ones.

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 8:43 am 19 Sep 19

    Ian McLeod just sort it out ... ha, great suggestion 🤦🏻‍♂️

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 9:06 am 19 Sep 19

    Ben Jones , why not?

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 9:20 am 19 Sep 19

    Shane Jasprizza do you understand how unions and EBA’s work ?

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 9:37 am 19 Sep 19

    Ben Jones, which is why the current completely unacceptable situation exists...

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 11:32 am 19 Sep 19

    Ian, because: Unions.

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 1:58 pm 19 Sep 19

    Shane Jasprizza you are both delusional thinking that this an easy fix 🤦🏻‍♂️

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 3:21 pm 19 Sep 19

    Ian McLeod just get the unions into a room to fix it .. again; do you understand how unions work ?

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 7:44 pm 19 Sep 19

    Ian McLeod oh dear god 🤦🏻‍♂️

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 8:21 pm 19 Sep 19

    Ian McLeod you’ll need all the current drivers to give up on their current rates , take a pay cut on their Monday to Friday rates to then offset the penalties on weekend...

    No union is going to their members to offer such a deal.

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 8:44 pm 19 Sep 19

    Ben, or they could just hire new drivers willing to work weekends?

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 9:35 pm 19 Sep 19

    Shane Jasprizza and how long does that last ? Working weekends with no penalty rates ...

    Have you ever worked weekends, night shifts or public holidays ? It doesn’t sound like you have.

Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 3:50 pm 18 Sep 19

How serious and well researched is this Action Plan when it has spelling and grammatical errors. No surprise that it's yet another bus problem avoidance document (hey Canberra we'll definitely fix things later, but we are going to take away the extra services we promised before fixing things). We have had all these promises about better bus services over the last year or so, but the lived experience is that the buses have not lived up to the Governments continuous promises. We were promised faster routes, but many trips have proved to be more winding and slower. We were promised more buses, but many people have less buses. We were promised faster travel times, but many people have slower travel times.....

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 5:10 pm 18 Sep 19

    Jeff Smith do they use paragraphs correctly thou?

    Glenn Hayman Glenn Hayman 7:25 pm 18 Sep 19

    They didn’t promise that for everyone. Technically they didn’t lie.

    Gerard Dwyer Gerard Dwyer 5:40 am 19 Sep 19

    Jeff Smith improved for me substantially

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 12:23 pm 19 Sep 19

    Gerard Dwyer Thats great that you have a much better bus service, unfortunately I'm like so many others in the much worse off category.

Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 2:30 pm 18 Sep 19

Ministers to start driving busses on weekends would be a good start.

    Ken Owers Ken Owers 5:24 pm 18 Sep 19

    Peter McDonald if they drive buses like they drive the government then I think I'll walk thanks :-)

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