Anger as Sydney buses face privatisation

The number of state-run public bus regions in New South Wales is set to reduce to just three in July, following transport minister Andrew Constance’s announcement that inner west bus services will be sold to Transit Systems.

He boasted that the news marked “a great day for people who travel by bus”.

Constance should tell that to the 1,200 State Transit Authority drivers whose jobs, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, will be threatened by this development – almost a third of STA bus drivers face the sack. While Constance has given lip service to job offers and 18-month employment guarantees, the issues with privatisation don’t stop at job security.

Chris Preston, divisional secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, told the Herald that the privatisation will result in fewer stops, fewer buses and longer wait times. “That is exactly what has happened in Newcastle after the government sold off their buses. It will certainly happen here”, he said.

Commuters in Sydney are already angry. Just weeks ago, more than 1,000 people marched in a Fix NSW Transport rally, bringing together 28 community groups concerned about a range of issues. These included the Liberals’ WestConnex development, a road infrastructure project that has resulted in hundreds of western Sydney residents being evicted, and the outlawing of a planned RTBU strike that had garnered major public support.

Greens transport spokesperson Mehreen Faruqi is quoted in the New Daily as saying: “It’s clear [the Liberals] want to run it down … they’re punishing people … for not voting Liberal”.

This is more than just a petty electoral punishment, however. It’s part of a well-established pattern of privatisation, which will be most felt by working class people.