Vica Bayley MP | Greens Transport spokesperson
A Metro Tasmania decision to permanently cancel over 150 bus services would exacerbate existing pressures on commuters and bus drivers and should be reversed.
The issues facing Metro and its drivers have been growing for years now, with clear warnings about the impact this would have on the workforce and its ability to deliver safe, reliable and efficient bus services. But despite these issues coming to a head in recent months, Transport Minister Michael Ferguson has barely lifted a finger to address them.
A decision to permanently cancel so many buses each day would make it clear the Minister has now given up altogether on trying to fix the issues affecting Metro drivers and their passengers. This is unacceptable for drivers and a terrible outcome for the community. We need to see immediate Ministerial intervention to ensure this decision is not made.
It might be necessary to suspend some services in the short term while other work is underway, but permanently cancelling buses is a step in the wrong direction. After all, with traffic congestion, a growing population and the cost of living continuing to rise, the demand for Metro is only set to grow.
We should be looking at funding options so we can add more bus services, not cutting ones that already exist.
There are the things the Liberals could be doing to improve things at Metro, but they have so far refused.
Improving pay and conditions would help with driver recruitment and retention. Making bus services free would not only deliver a great benefit to the community, it would also help drivers by reducing the anti-social behaviour associated with fares. And a long-term workforce plan is crucial to make sure we plan for the future and grow, not cut the bus services available to the community.
Public transport is an essential community service and its well past time Minister Ferguson recognised this and took the necessary steps to make sure this service can delivering more, not less, transport options for everyone.