$8.1 million support package for Tasmanian bus drivers

Michael Ferguson, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport

The Rockliff Liberal Government is taking further action and a range of additional support to Metro Tasmania to help overcome its driver shortage and restore full service delivery.

“It’s been good to provide reliability, however we want full services restored as soon as possible and Metro has told us these initiatives will best assist with its bus driver shortage, and we are strongly responding,” said Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael Ferguson.

“Low unemployment is a good thing, but it’s made it harder for employers like Metro to recruit. So we need to do more.

“The estimated $8.1 million package covers a range of initiatives including personal safety, a pay rise and more attractive rosters to recruit and retain bus drivers.

“The Government is prepared to fund a pay rise of $2 million this financial year, outside of the current enterprise agreement for Metro’s bus drivers. This is subject to Metro reaching agreement with its bus operators that is reasonable and affordable.”

The plan also includes:

  • $2.1 million to introduce security screens for drivers;
  • $2 million to extend the deployment of transit officers statewide, making them a permanent safety measure and giving them more powers to deal with troublemakers; and
  • $2 million to funding a new IT system for Metro Tasmania to introduce more flexible and attractive rosters.

“Phase two of our transit officer deployment will now be accelerated, which will see individual officers authorised by the Transport Commissioner to have new, tougher powers including issuing infringement notices and removing disorderly passengers,” Mr Ferguson said.

“The pilot of transit officers in the south of the State has been met with positive feedback since their introduction in early April, bringing comfort to drivers and passengers. The deployment of body-worn cameras acts as a deterrent and provides crucial evidence when passengers do the wrong thing.”

Metro will use this mix of support and take a tougher position by banning troublemakers who flout the rules.

Metro is currently investigating security screens to provide a protective barrier for drivers, and the Government is committing $2.1 million to implement them.

The Government will provide a further $2 million to enable Metro to implement an improved IT system to replace its ageing rostering system that currently limits flexible working arrangements. This will enable Metro to offer flexible and more attractive rosters, to attract more drivers.

Metro temporarily suspended 177 weekday services on August 28 to provide certainty and reliability for passengers, with a review expected after six months.

“I have also directed the Department of State Growth to bring forward its planned greater Hobart network review to examine service provision in the currently constrained environment, which will inform future fleet requirements,” he said.

“The Rockliff Liberal Government has made huge investments in public transport, including 116 new buses, but reliability and access are crucial to ensuring more people use our buses.

“I look forward to seeing this support package implemented and a step-change in the delivery of vital bus services to Tasmanian commuters.

“This Government invests $110 million each year on general access and school bus services. In addition, we’re investing a further $81.5 million over four years on a range of initiatives including more park and ride facilities, more all-access all-weather bus stop upgrades, and a contemporary ticketing system to modernise our bus transport offering, to boost patronage and ease congestion.”

/Public Release. View in full here.