The NSW bus drivers’ union has warned the public that services in the Ryde area could be next in line for privatisation, as the campaign against the sell-off of inner-western Sydney bus operations continues.
In May, the state Coalition government put services from four bus depots — Tempe, Kingsgrove, Burwood and Leichhardt — out to private tender, provoking widespread outrage from workers and the community.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW Bus secretary Chris Preston said the government was now setting its sights on more sell-offs: “Commuters in the Ryde region deserve to know what’s at stake. That’s why we're hitting the streets, talking to as many commuters as we can,” he said on October 13.
“If commuters think the buses in and out of Ryde are late and crowded now, just wait until the private sector gets its hands on them.” He said profit-driven operators would inevitably provide services with fewer stops and services and longer travel times.
Bus drivers and supporters crowded into the public gallery of the NSW Legislative Assembly on October 12 to hear the debate on the bus service sell-off. Following the presentation of a petition opposing the privatisation which had 25,000 signatures, Labor and Greens MPs condemned the sell-off, while government ministers and backbenchers vainly attempted to justify the move.
Speakers against the sell-off pointed out that the alleged reason for the move, that complaints about late running of buses in the inner west were much higher than other regions, were untrue.
The size of Region 6 and number of passenger trips taken in the inner western suburbs, meant that the rate of complaints per 1000 trips was comparable or lower than other regions. MPs speaking against the sell-off explained that, by comparison, the rate of complaints for some outer-suburban areas, which were already privatised, were higher than in the inner-western suburbs.
This showed that the government’s real reason for the sell-off was ideological and it was part of the government’s neoliberal “obsession” with privatising state government assets in the interests of its big-business mates, they said.