Mayor rejects union fears of $40m bus funding cut

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has dismissed as ‘‘fallacious’’ claims that $40 million in funding will be stripped from southeast Queensland bus services and up to 500 jobs put at risk.
Nanjing Night Net

The Transport Workers’ Union claimed yesterday it had received reliable information that the Newman government was poised to cut hundreds of jobs and bus services.

The union said the job cuts would be equally divided between Brisbane City Council’s Brisbane Transport arm and private operators, with similar job losses expected across regional Queensland.

However, Cr Quirk dismissed the reports as “fallacious” this morning.

“I don’t believe there’s any threat at all,” he told 612 ABC Brisbane.

‘‘We engage as part of the contract the bus drivers, as you know we do maintenance on the buses, the depots themselves, [and] the purchase or building of the buses on a joint-venture basis.

‘‘I think that is a fallacious remark by the TWU.’’

Requests for an interview with Transport Minister Scott Emerson were refused yesterday, but a spokesman for the minister disputed the $40 million figure, saying no target had been set.

However, he confirmed Mr Emerson was considering reviewing bus routes and services.

‘‘As part of a review of his entire portfolio, the minister is currently considering a proposal to review parts of the TransLink bus network to improve reliability, frequency and connectivity,’’ the spokesman said.

‘‘There has been no decision on whether this review will take place or saving or reinvestment targets.’’

Mr Emerson’s spokesman said the government had last month rolled out a $10 million package of extra bus services tied to the opening of Brisbane’s Northern Busway, delivering an extra 2000 services a week to the northern suburbs.

TransLink provides funding to transport operators across southeast Queensland to provide services under the Go Card and integrated ticketing system.

TransLink is responsible for collecting fare revenue and managing government transport funding, striking service agreements with individual operators which are paid to provide services.

Transport Workers Union bus industry co-ordinator Bob Giddens told brisbanetimes南京夜网.au yesterday he feared the impact of changes to bus routes.

“They won’t be cutting the services that are running packed with workers to get to work. They will be cutting the services they perceive as not profitable and not essential,” Mr Giddens said.

“Services that may be running every hour that carry 10 people an hour; that may be cut back to run every two or three hours, or they might decide to cut it completely, so there’s no bus service in the area and that would be very tragic and people wouldn’t be able to get to the doctor or shopping.”

Mr Giddens said Mr Emerson should reinvest any savings in the sector, for example by fixing up bus stops that did not comply with legislation or boost services elsewhere.

Mr Emerson has previously stated the Newman government would be a “passenger-focused” administration.

Premier Campbell Newman promised in the election campaign to “revitalise” frontline services, but the government is currently in the process of looking for savings as it points to the financial position left by the former Labor government.

The TWU represents privately employed bus drivers in places such as the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, but does not represent Brisbane Transport employees.

Comment has been sought from Rail Tram and Bus Union state secretary Owen Doogan, whose body represents Brisbane City Council employees.

– with Marissa Calligeros

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