Minister blamed over Sydney bus strike; drivers ‘deeply apologetic’ to commuters

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A commuter bus drives across Anzac bridge during peak afternoon traffic in Sydney August 23, 2004.
A commuter bus drives across Anzac bridge during peak afternoon traffic in Sydney August 23, 2004. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

The NSW Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) has declared a strike to protest the New South Wales government's plans to privatise bus routes. More than 1000 bus drivers in Sydney's south and inner west walked off from their jobs on Thursday.

The union issued a statement in relation to the strike, saying it was a reaction to Transport Minister Andrew Constance's "betrayal of inner western and south Sydney commuters and public transport workers." Secretary of the RTBU's bus division Chris Preston said the privatisation was announced despite the workers being assured last year that their bus routes would stay in public hands.

Preston has put the blame on Constance, pointing out that no warning and consultations have been issued. He said the minister has placed the future of 1,200 bus drivers and depot staff in limbo.

He added that drivers feel "deeply apologetic" about the inconvenience the strike would bring to commuters, but they felt the need to respond to the "outrageous attack" on public transport. The strike affected bus services from Burwood, Kingsgrove, Leichhardt and Tempe depots.

School buses in southern Sydney and the inner west were also included in the strike. Sydney residents were advised to check to know if their bus services were affected. Here are the routes affected by the strike according to the Transport Management Centre: 401, 406, 407, 408, 412, 413, 415, 418, 422, 423, 425, 426, 428, 430, 431, 433, 436, 437, 438, 439, 440, 441, 442, 444, 445, 460, 461, 462, 463, 464, 466, 470, 473, 476, 477, 478, 479, 480, 483, 487, 490, 491, 492, 493, 495, 502, 504, 508, 526, L23, L28, L37, L38, L39, M20, M30, M41, X04 and X25.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Transport Management Centre said commuters could catch trains or the light rail. It was also suggested that people make arrangements with employers to work flexibly.” "Road users and public transport customers across the network are advised to allow plenty of additional travel time during peak periods as traffic is expected to be heavier than usual and patronage on other modes of transport will be increased," Sydney Morning Herald quotes the spokesman.

Transport for NSW said students could travel for free on other forms of public transport as long as they were able to present their Student Opal Card. The union has also provided a map showing the strike will affect a huge part of the city from Sans Souci to Silverwater and from Glebe to Strathfield. For other news in Australia, see the video below.

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