Transport Minister Phil Twyford has announced a Government investigation into bus safety in New Zealand following three bus crashes within 10 days. He says the Ministry of Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency will carry out the investigation.
FIRST Union is relieved the Government is concerned about the industry, but has reservations regarding a lack of action on NZTAs part in the past.
In relation to concerns the Union has raised with NZTA regarding drivers being illegally forced to work over the 5 1/5 hour drive time the authority has refused to apply any repercussions to the company involved despite the law being broken (this letter can be provided upon request).
FIRST Union Transport Organiser Emir Hodzic [E-MEER HOD-ZICH] says accidents are also overrepresented amongst the companies that treat their drivers the worst.
“We released figures a few months ago that show Ritchies for example has around 20% of buses on Auckland roads but makes up almost 50% of accidents and Go Bus, that has almost 7% of buses on Auckland roads makes up almost 20% of accidents. These two companies have far more accidents than other companies and these are also the companies that we receive the most complaints from our drivers.”
Mr Hodzic says poor bus conditions and driver wellbeing are health and safety red flags that have been ignored for a long time.
“The Minister wants to find any ‘common elements’ in these cases, I can tell you right now the common elements are bus companies that cut corners and are not willing to upgrade buses at the expense of drivers’ and passengers’ safety. These are also commonly the companies that underpay drivers and expect them to drive for far too long.”
He adds if the Minister would like a thorough investigation he should include more than NZTA and the Ministry alone.
“There needs to be an expose on the whole industry. For the sake of driver wellbeing and passenger safety I’d suggest he gives me a call.”