Privatized busing comes to San Francisco
Sydney bus privatisation plan sparks accusations of betrayal from drivers
The NSW government will privatise the running of scores of bus routes in Sydney's inner west, risking a major dispute with thousands of heavily unionised bus drivers.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance has justified contracting the tender for bus region six – covering suburbs from Kensington in the city's south-east to Strathfield and Olympic Park in the west – out to the private sector by citing poor performance.
A report by Australian Automobile Association reveal the average family from western Sydney is paying around $22,000 a year in transport costs.
The inner-west region is one of four in NSW in which buses are run by the government-owned State Transit Authority. The other 11 regions are in the hands of private operators such as Transdev and Hillsbus.
The bus union said drivers were furious about the decision and accused the Transport Minister of betrayal following guarantees just six months ago from his department about extending the contracts.
Rail Tram and Bus Union divisional secretary Chris Preston said workers had been told as recently as December that STA's contract for bus regions in Sydney would remain after a restructure that included the axing of 200 back-office staff.
"This is the biggest betrayal this Minister Constance can do to these workers. The rest of Sydney's bus drivers will be furious as well," he said.
About 1200 bus drivers are affected by the latest decision to privatise services. In all, STA has about 3700 drivers in Sydney and 12 bus depots.
STA-run Sydney Buses still carries the majority of the city's passengers, including those on routes on the northern beaches, the CBD and the eastern suburbs.
...The minister said the inner-west region had the highest level of complaints, which included claims from customers of buses speeding past them at stops.
"For too long, customers have suffered," he said.
Labor transport spokeswoman Jodi McKay said the Opposition feared the latest plans were merely a prelude to a wholesale sell-off of Sydney's transport network.
"This is a government that is rapidly getting out of the business of running public services. Buses should be run for the public benefit, not for private profit," she said.