Metro Tasmania’s move to axe bus services to address bus service cancellations is a case of what happens when public services start to head down the road to privatisation.
It’s putting responsibility at arms’ length from the State Government, who can shift the blame and act as a bystander while critical services are cut up and sold off.
As ABC Reporter Adam Langenberg writes: “Buses that are never scheduled to leave the station can’t be late or fail to arrive.” Hardly the the kind of certainty Tasmanians are asking for.
Rather than addressing bus drivers’ safety concerns, or improving pay and conditions to enable Metro to recruit and retain workers on the job, Metro’s response has been to axe services.
Public services are a crucial safety net and cuts to public transport disproportionately impact those who rely on it most. As the Secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) Ric Bean put it:
“Fewer services will particularly hurt young people, people on low incomes, and other disadvantaged Tasmanians who rely on public transport to get around.”
Ric is right to point out that Metro has a well-documented record of ignoring workforce issues. Cancellations to services are a direct result of this failure to act: “Now this failure has come home to roost in a big way.”
Former Metro driver Kara Browning told the ABC about the issues that were impacting workers for years:
Kara: “Wages are a major issue … Metro don’t look after their staff, the mental anguish that the staff suffer from lack of support when incidents do happen, assaults, spitting, it’s horrendous.”
ABC: “Why would you [work there]?”
Kara: “I had a rock thrown in my face, I’ve had one of my very good friends get punched in the face by someone, I’ve had rocks through the window, I’ve had food trashed throughout my bus, this is not a new thing, this happens day in, day out.” “Now this failure has come home to roost in a big way.”
Let’s Stand up for Services: Public Services Watch
If the service you’re working in or rely on is experiencing cuts or vacancies or heading towards privatisation, make a confidential report to the CPSU’s Public Services Watch tool.
Let’s not be quiet about service cuts – that’s how governments can cause the services Tasmanians rely on to slip silently away, until they’ve disappeared without us even realising.
Make a confidential report: https://www.cpsu.com.au/pswatch/