TIMETABLES for the southeast's buses are almost impossible to meet as TransLink squeezes running times to improve efficiency, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union has claimed.The union said drivers were battling increasing road congestion and being forced to take shorter meal breaks to meet tighter running times.
Drivers said congestion points on some routes flared up in peak hours, causing knock-on delays throughout the day.
Figures released to The Courier-Mail print edition show the worst buses for on-time running are from the Westside Bus Company, which operates in Ipswich, Redbank and Goodna, where only 83.26 per cent of services arrived on time last financial year.
"The whole system is geared towards efficiency as opposed to customer service," RBTU acting secretary Glenn Anderson said.
"There is no contingency time in the run.
"It is all built around efficiency and around an ideal that drivers can go from A to B in 30 minutes – if everyone has their ticket ready, every mother has her pram organised, every elderly person can get up there at the same speed.
"They see any downtime as a cost to the business."
Drivers also said yesterday they were pressured to take shorter meal breaks to make up the lost time, and time when workers could use the bathroom or check the bus for lost property was also tight.
Last year Surfside Buslines on the Gold Coast recorded an average of 85.63 per cent of services arriving as scheduled, while Park Ridge Transit, which services Beaudesert and Browns Plains recorded 90.06 per cent on time. Brisbane Transport buses, which include Brisbane City Council services, ran 89.76 per cent on time.
The figures show most bus companies continue to improve on-time running, with the majority showing only 5 per cent of buses did not meet schedules.
But the union yesterday disputed the on-time figures, saying that in Brisbane about one in every four buses were not meeting the schedule.
The union wanted bus lanes reinstated along major corridors to ensure buses could move freely through peak-hour congestion.
A TransLink spokesman said they set "high expectations" for operators to meet current timetables, but the data showed timetables could be met.
COMMENT: These figures are nothing new to local commuters who are already aware that the Westside Bus Company provides one of the poorest services in Australia, around Ipswich's eastern suburbs. Complaint after complaint is like water off a duck's back to this company. Now that these official figures have been released, it's time the State Government reviewed Westside's contract and awarded it to a company which is prepared to improve its service, stick to its published timetables and listen sympathetically to commuters' concerns and complaints. The State Government encourages people to use public transport but there is one word - "reliability" - which makes this difficult for commuters to embrace around Goodna, Redbank and Bellbird Park. The sooner Westside's contract is torn up the better.