Safer buses push hots up
HOT and overcrowded school buses leaving many local students with standing room only are an accident waiting to happen, according to former bus driver Brett Ingram.
Mr Ingram, once a driver for the Clarence Valley's largest operator, Busways, was critical of his former employer's decision to send its newer buses to Sydney and replace them with older models.
But he said overcrowded school buses and a lack of adequate ventilation was not just Busways' problem, but one all operators using older buses faced.
"I think, primarily, comfortability and enough room on the buses would alleviate stress and occupational health and safety risks the drivers face," he said.
"In return, the passengers and the parents are going to feel safer."
Busways maintains the decision to replace the buses was made because they would be in use more frequently on the company's Sydney routes.
Mr Ingram's comments on bus safety came just days after the NSW School Bus Safety Working Group's report recommended seatbelts on school buses be phased in and students not be forced to stand in the aisles.
Minister for Transport John Watkins said last week he would refer the report's seatbelts recommendation to the Australian Transport Council in a push for a 'national approach' to the issue. Busways information officer Robert Henderson said any costs arising from a ban on standing on buses or making seatbelts compulsory would ultimately be paid by the Carr Government.
"It basically comes down to money, who's going to pay for all the that (the seatbelt fitting and extra buses)," he said.
"Is it the government? The bus operator?
"If it's the bus operator then presumably it's got to be passed on to the parents but the people that pay childrens' bus fares is the government. So which ever way you look at it, it's the gov- ernment."