Buses have been involved in a spate of recent incidents that have sparked a multi-agency crackdown on safety within the industry. Conducted by the Joint Heavy Vehicle Taskforce involving NSW Police and Roads and Maritime Service (RMS), Operation Hanly 2 is in full swing around the state inspecting fleets.
According to NSW Police, two serious incidents prompted renewed energy towards both private and public buses. On June 15, there was a serious crash at Glenmore Park while a couple of days later on June 19, there was a fatal crash at Mount Druitt.
Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data, there were more than 93,000 buses operated both publicly and privately in Australia in 2013. This was a 2.7 per cent increase on 2012, and these statistics are predicted to only increase.
Close to 90 buses were inspected as part of the operation with more than 30 defective buses identified and taken off the road. The authorities investigated a range of infringements including driver fatigue, vehicle standards and road worthiness.
Of the 32 buses found be to defective, six were considered major and as a result, a number of individuals and businesses received defect notices for warning lights, brakes, tyres, suspension and other issues.
Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith explained it was worrying that a number of the buses were being used as school transport.
"Given these large vehicles also transport our children to and from school each day, highlights why they must be mechanically sound and able to operate safely all of the time," he said.
"Passengers getting on a bus and paying for the privilege expect the vehicle they are getting into is road worthy and safe."
According to Transport NSW data, there have been six fatal bus crashes in 2014. This represents a 600 per cent increase on 2013 figures which suggests bus drivers and owners need to do more to ensure safety on the roads.
One particular example of a defective bus was highlighted as part of the reason to continue monitoring safety and compliance on passenger transport. A bus, which was part of a fleet, had no active brake lights and was immediately taken to Campbelltown Heavy Vehicle Safety Station for further analysis.
While the operation can't check every bus in circulation, Roads and Maritime Services General Manager Compliance Operations, Paul Endycott said it was important to maintain standards as roads get busier every month.
"We are continuing our joint operation targeting bus companies to ensure vehicles are compliant but also to ensure drivers are fit and proper to operate passenger vehicles," he said.
"The safety of all road users is of highest priority and we will continue to monitor operators throughout the state to ensure we can promote compliance and zero tolerance for any drivers who try their luck driving under the influence," he said.
Assistant Smith also backs a continued crackdown on buses.
"As with other areas of the heavy vehicle industry, maintenance regimes must be followed effectively for the benefit of road safety," he said.