Bus drivers to avoid danger zones after attacks

Release date: 10/03/2011

Bus drivers are threatening to ban travel on certain western Sydney routes following another spate of attacks against drivers this week.

Jacob Saulwick, Sydney Morning Herald 

Delegates from the Transport Workers Union were last night conducting a safety audit of bus routes around Mount Druitt after two drivers were set upon on Tuesday night.

One Busways driver was held at knifepoint and forced to hand over cash and his mobile phone at Jersey Road, Emerton.

Another driver, from Westbus, was robbed about two hours earlier at the nearby Leftridge Park shops.

Jim Bowman, a Busways driver from the Glendenning depot, said employees came under attack about three or four times a week.

Robberies were relatively rare, Mr Bowman said. But at least one windscreen a week was broken by objects being thrown.

Only last week a driver in Bidwill narrowly avoided serious injury for himself and his passengers after being pelted with bottles and veering into a bus stop.

''It's not isolated to us,'' Mr Bowman said of the area that takes in Blacktown, Campbelltown and Camden. ''But it is extremely dangerous.''

Following a meeting between TWU delegates, Westbus, Busways, and Blacktown police, the TWU has insisted on diversions on a number of routes. The affected Busways routes are the 755, 758, and 750, and the affected Westbus route is 759.

Mr Forno said drivers would not return to the routes until they were satisfied their safety audit had been acted upon. The audit is likely to recommend more lighting at bus stops, as well as cleaning UP areas that have a lot of rocks or bottles lying around.

The union could also call for plain-clothed security to accompany the buses, Mr Forno said.

However, Mr Bowman said he would be concerned about having security guards on buses, because they could lead to situations turning more violent.

''We don't want to inconvenience the public and change or ban routes,'' he said.

''But if there is no alternative and the attacks keep happening, we will have to look at either changing routes or banning them altogether, after dark.''

Click here to read it on the SMH website

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