Buses in the Sunbus depot at Marcoola.
Buses in the Sunbus depot at Marcoola. Warren Lynam

Coast a hot spot for bus assaults

BUS drivers reported almost 2500 assaults while working in regional Queensland last year, official figures reveal.

But the drivers' union estimates that at least 10% of attacks go unreported.

"The Gold Coast is by far the worst," Transport Workers Union Queensland secretary Peter Biagini said last night. "The Sunshine Coast and Cairns come next."

His comments came after a Cairns bus driver was hospitalised following an assault.

The driver's arm was cut when glass from a screen was smashed by an angry passenger.

The driver had told the man that eating on the bus was not allowed.

Mr Biagini said 9000 buses, including public transport, charter and school transport, were on Queensland roads every day.

He said 11,000 drivers from throughout regional Queensland were involved in the industry.

TWU media officer Mick O'Brien said TransLink figures, obtained through Freedom of Information, revealed that last year an average of 47 assaults a week - 2444 - were reported by drivers.

"The Sunshine Coast, with Cairns and the Gold Coast, are definitely the hot spots," he said.

He said specific figures for the Sunshine Coast were not available. Mr Biagini said the Government should introduce mandatory sentences for people who attacked drivers, similar to laws that existed when a police officer was assaulted.

In the Northern Territory, a three-month minimum mandatory sentence applies to anyone found guilty of attacking a person while they are working.

However, a spokeswoman for Queensland Transport Minister Scott Emerson said the Government had no plans to introduce such laws.

The spokeswoman said between March 2012 and February 2013, driver assaults had dropped by 20% on the previous 12 months.

The TWU's calls for tougher penalties this week come as bus drivers in Adelaide threaten to strike on Australia Day because of safety fears and a low pay-rise offer.



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