Attacks and abuse against bus drivers in and around the Rutherford NSW shopping precinct have escalated in recent weeks.
TWU members have met and are concerned enough with the increasing attacks that driver bans on servicing the Rutherford Shopping Centre after 5pm are being put in place.
Mick Forbes, TWU Newcastle Sub-branch Secretary is concerned that this is only a band aid solution. TWU members are seeking more police involvement in the area and are seeking the NSW Transport Minister genuinely address the issue of bus driver safety locally and across NSW.
TWU members have advised that those taking part in the abuse and attacks on Drivers and their buses are teenagers. Drivers fear that attacks are set to get much worse with school holidays not far away.
Bus Company, CDC have been supportive of drivers, working with them to find solutions and through provision of funding for extra security to assist in protecting drivers and buses.
On Tuesday night, 24 September, drivers reported three incidents between 10 and 11pm. Teenagers were seen to be standing on a median strip near the Arthur Street lights with backs turned. Once buses approached, the group threw rocks directly at the windscreens.
A TWU bus driver member was punched in the face on Friday night 20 September whilst outside their bus at the layover point at the Rutherford shopping centre. There are two drivers currently off work because of these attacks and abuse.
Incidents around buses have been escalating over the past couple of months and include:
- General verbal abuse,
- Youths paying “chicken” and people standing in front of buses to stop them departing,
- Opening the doors of the buses or attempting to open doors of the buses as they drive off and Youths repeatedly holding open bus doors for extended periods up to 30 minutes until Police arrive,
- Drivers being spat on
- Youths boarding the bus and refusing to leave unless the driver hands over money,
- Break ins and attempted theft of unattended buses,
- Projectiles thrown at drivers and buses both moving and stationary parked in layover area, objects include, ice, cans of soft drink and rocks
For Media inquiries / Interviews with Mick Forbes, TWU Newcastle and Northern Sub-branch Secretary – contact Colin Henderson on 0405625208