| 21.07,09. 04:48 AM |
Sydney bus drivers busted for bad driving
SYDNEY'S buses have been involved in 2073 crashes in 18 months and more than half have been the fault of State Transit Authority drivers.
Figures given exclusively to The Daily Telegraph revealed an alarming rate of almost four crashes a day from January 2008 until now.
With only 1900 buses in the STA fleet, bus drivers have been blamed for hitting 1107 vehicles.
In the past nine months, 488 claims have been made against State Transit, costing NSW taxpayers $1.61 million.
Opposition transport spokeswoman Gladys Berejiklian said yesterday the figures highlighted "an issue of public safety".
"Lives are at risk and not just the other people on the road or commuters but the drivers themselves are at risk," Ms Berejiklian said.
But Transport Minister David Campbell played down the issue.
"I'd prefer it if there were never any accidents but as these figures show, the (incidence) is relatively low," Mr Campbell said.
He went on to praise the state's public bus drivers.
"Our bus drivers do a great job delivering services for around 600,000 commuters every week day. Buses operate 24 hours a day in the busiest city in Australia and travel around 69 million km since October last year," he said.
He said State Transit's "rigorous training is second to none".
"Bus drivers must be highly competent in all aspects of driving, the public deserves it," he said.
The Opposition accused the Government of "sticking its head in the sand" and pretending that the problem didn't exist.
"It's staggering they're claiming these accident figures are low," Ms Berejiklian said.
A spokesman for State Transit claimed the rate of bus-driver-caused crashes was reducing.
"The reduction in claims coincides with a targeted campaign encouraging bus drivers to be more careful and fuel efficient," he said.
"State Transit has a clear and specific procedure for managing drivers accidents. The action taken when drivers' cause a vehicle accident includes targeted retraining and official written warnings, leading to possible dismissal for serious or repeat offences."
State Transit could not provide a breakdown on the seriousness of the crashes but the spokesman said there had been no fatalities involved in the 488 claims against bus drivers since a new insurance company was contracted late last year.
The new figures follow revelations by The Daily Telegraph in March that 230 bus drivers were caught speeding and running red lights in the previous 12 months.
The Daily Telegraph