Win for Commuters, Bus Drivers as State Government Says It Will Provide Air-conditioned Substitute Buses

Release date: 8/01/2013

The State Government says it will strive to provide air-conditioned substitute buses for the rest of the week between 4pm and 6pm.

Alice Higgins and Sam Kelton, AdelaideNow

The commitment is likely to be extended to weekdays next week as well.

The Government met with the Transport Workers Union yesterday over concerns drivers and commuters are being forced to travel in non-airconditioned substitute buses during extreme temperatures during upgrades to the Adelaide Railway Station and the Noarlunga, Tonsley and Belair railway lines.

TWU union organiser Ian Gonsalves, who attended the meeting, said Mr Conlon committed to providing airconditioned substitute buses from 4pm to 6pm.

The airconditioned buses would operate on all routes except North Adelaide.

"They are definitely making sure ... there will be airconditioned buses between 4pm and 6pm," Mr Gonsalves said. "It is a great step forward. The drivers will love it and so will the travelling public."

Mr Conlon earlier said he would catch an non-airconditioned substitute bus - but refused to turn it into a media stunt.

"What I said was I would talk to the union and if they want me to (catch an non-airconditioned substitute bus), I'll do it," he said.

"If the union wants me to go and talk to them on buses, we will go and do that.

"But what I'll guarantee you is there will not be any cameras there, it will not be a media stunt."

Mr Conlon's comments come a day after he turned down a TWU challenge to catch an non-airconditioned bus, saying "empty stunts" would not help the situation.

However, Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond yesterday accepted the challenge, catching an non-airconditioned substitute bus from King William St to Noarlunga as temperatures peaked at 41.2 degrees outside.

Mr Conlon said the Government was doing all it could to manage the situation.

"It is not possible for any earthly power to make travel cool on a 45 degree day," he said.

"We have got all the buses with airconditioning that we can source.

"We cannot manufacture buses that do not exist."

Ms Redmond joined sweaty commuters yesterday for an hour-long bus ride in 41.2C heat without airconditioning.

She caught a bus from King William St to Noarlunga, taking up a Transport Workers Union challenge.

Thousands of commuters have been sweating on free substitute buses organised by the State Government while Adelaide Railway Station and the Noarlunga, Tonsley and Belair railway lines are upgraded.

The temperature peaked at 41.2C at 4.24pm yesterday.

The Advertiser boarded the N3 substitute bus from King William St to Noarlunga with Ms Redmond and commuters.

It came a day after SouthLink chief executive Ashley Barnes admitted several of his company's buses lacked effective airconditioning and told passengers they had to choose between a hot bus service or none at all.

"I don't think it's unreasonable for commuters and the union to ask the Transport Minister to experience this first hand," Ms Redmond said yesterday.

Christie Downs woman Kelly Martisius said the buses were very hot.

"They need more air conditioning," she said. "Some people get really hot and sweaty."

Kevin Phillips of Seaford Rise said a bus without airconditioning was his only option.

"During the morning run, it's not so bad, but the late ones are pretty hard work," he said.

TWU branch secretary Ray Wyatt said the Government needed to experience the extreme conditions.

Click this link to read the orginal article on AdelaideNow.

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