Report: Australian Bus and Coach Industry & COVID-19

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On April 2, 2020, the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) released an issues report detailing recommendations for support and assistance that would be of great benefit to operators Australia-wide. The report went to:
  • Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister, Michael McCormack
  • Assistant Minister for Transport, Scott Buchholz
  • Transport and Infrastructure Ministers
  • the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
You can download the full copy of the report from the BIC website. You can also read excerpts from the report below.
Government contracted public transport services include route or commuter services in our cities and regions that involves high and low volume passenger services related to where the services are provided and the time of day/night and school bus services. Key proposals for safe service operations of buses:
  • Temperature testing of drivers and staff
  • Drivers offered to wear effective masks
  • No cash payments
  • Rear and middle door entry where available
  • A conductor to be introduced as a temporary measure on all city services and peak town services to manage passenger numbers and seating and cleaning of hard services on bus.
  • Suspension of the Road User Charge (RUC) component of fuel excise for buses and coaches. Industry asks that government continue with the proposed suspension of the RUC during any period disrupted services due to COVID-19, and for an agreed period (no less than 6 months), after return to normal services.
  • Suspension or waiving of government fees and charges (mainly state based) such as registration fees and certificates of insurance fees.
  • Suspension of road tolls for buses and coaches for an agreed period.

Temporary working arrangements (principles) could be considered to enable bus operators and relevant authorities to be responsive to changing scenarios. The continuation of services in the context of COVID 19, based on patronage and social distance measures, could mean:

  • increasing bus services in peak commute periods, where patronage levels are still high, by running more frequent service or another bus on the same timetable to split passengers per bus/social distance
  • in the case of patronage decline, maintaining peak hour commute timetable and reducing frequency of off-peak services
  • considering holiday or weekend timetables based on declining patronage (as a last resort)
  • continuing to operate school services until such time as schools are shut down.

The following temporary working arrangements (principles) could also form the basis for discussion between state associations, bus operators and relevant authorities. Review and agree the processes required to:

  • implement restrictions, alterations and cancellations of services
  • deal with circumstances where a bus operator is unable to deliver services due to COVID-19 related issues
  • provide ongoing support by the Authority for bus operators and their employees who may otherwise be adversely affected through loss of income
  • establish arrangements for ongoing consultation with bus operators and monitoring, including any proposed temporary arrangements put in place
  • implement temporary arrangements consistent with the requirements for variations under Bus Service Contracts.
  • consider an agreement by the parties to treat the COVID-19 Emergency as though it is a Force Majeure Event under the Contract on a state-by-state basis.
  • more flexible work conditions that give to employers the ability to keep their employees gainfully employed whilst experiencing a downturn in service requirement.