BUSTED: Brisbane’s badly-behaved bus drivers
A BRISBANE bus driver who failed to collect fares for a year, one who took his bus home on a meal break and another who was twice caught reading a book while behind the wheel are among hundreds of drivers who have been sacked or warned.
New documents released under Right to Information reveal at least 28 Brisbane City Council bus drivers were dismissed between 2016 and 2018 for a range of reasons, while dozens more were hit with warnings.
Incidents included a driver who allegedly assaulted a passenger and another who was accused of barring a woman from boarding because she was wearing a burqa.
One driver was disciplined after they were accused of distributing religious materials on their bus.
It was claimed that another bus operator was caught out driving with an expired driver's authorisation three times, while another allegedly failed to check their bus before leaving the terminus and left a passenger trapped on board.
Other allegations made about individual drivers during the period included:
● using a mobile device and driving through roundabouts with one hand;
● receiving two speeding fines in one day from the same camera, travelling inbound and then outbound; and,
● striking and injuring a pedestrian crossing the road on a green walking signal.
The documents also suggest a driver was given a final warning because he admitted to allowing elderly commuters to travel for free.
Another was dismissed over allegations they were demonstrating "unsafe driving behaviour at (a) level crossing".
Several bus operators were accused of leaving a child behind at a bus stop, speeding or running red lights.
The council said drivers were forced to pay for any fine they received while driving a bus at work.
The Rail, Train and Bus Union says, in some instances, it was obvious why a driver had been dismissed, while at other times, it wasn't.
RTBU assistant state secretary Tom Brown said the union did not condone assaults by bus drivers but said they should be able to defend themselves if attacked.
He said drivers were under workload and time pressure, claiming the council was trying to "cram more and more work into less and less time".
"What I'd say about drivers is that they're on edge," Mr Brown said.
"Every time there's even a hint of an argument on the bus, the driver's stress level goes through the roof."
The union is concerned some drivers are being performance-managed for running behind their schedules, something it says is largely out of their control with worsening congestion.
The union also says if a bus driver authorisation document has expired, it should be red-flagged on the council's system.
The council's Public and Active Transport Committee chair Krista Adams said only a small number of drivers had flouted the road rules or had acted inappropriately, but condemned bad behaviour.
"These incidents involving our bus drivers are completely unacceptable and residents deserve better," she said.
"I want to reassure residents that we uphold the highest standards for all our employees and every single one of these incidents has been investigated.
"I remind our bus drivers that they are employed as professional drivers and encourage them to maintain a strong focus on ensuring our residents and visitors get to their destination safely."
Cr Adams said every operator was made aware of their requirements to adhere to the road rules.
"Council regularly gets feedback from commuters about what a great job our bus drivers do," she said.