Friday, March 13, 2009

Smashed up bus shelters and social justice

Over the last 6 months, I've reported a number of tagged and smashed up bus shelters around Canada Bay.  Most shelters and most bus signage belong to council, but some is the responsibility of the RTA, and Sydney Buses have recently been rolling out information posts with timetable information on them.  I'm not sure if Sydney Buses are responsible for the ongoing maintenance and cleaning of those posts or not.

Regardless of ownership, if a shelter has been provided for bus customers, then the least that they can expect is that it will be somewhere that they can wait in a reasonable level of comfort. For pensioners, this may mean having a clean seat to sit on, and some shelter from the elements - the sun in summer, and the wind and rain in winter.  At night, if lighting is installed, it should be working.

I've gone past bus shelters and seen customers unwilling to stand or sit in the shelter because of the amount of rubbish and graffiti within the shelter, or because the shelter has been vandalised by breaking glass panels.  It's disheartening to see pensioners standing in the rain next to a smashed up bus shelter when they clearly need to sit down and rest.  

So you can think of keeping bus shelters in good order as a social justice issue, which should be right up the alley of a Labor government.

I wrote to the Minister for Transport earlier this week asking that Sydney Buses be directed to report damaged and vandalised bus shelters and signage to the appropriate council.  I'm sure I'll get a wishy-washy response, stating that Sydney Buses have a parternship with councils and are working closely to address the problem etc etc.  If what I have seen is an indication, then stating something like that would clearly be a blatant lie.

Regardless, my aim is to get Sydney Buses to view vandalised bus shelters and signage as a problem that they have to deal with, rather than somebody else's problem.

10 March 2009

The Hon. David Campbell MP
Minister for Transport, and Minister for the Illawarra
Level 35
Governor Macquarie Tower
1 Farrer Place

Dear Mr Campbell

Sydney Buses – graffiti reporting policy

I am writing in regard to the policy (or lack thereof) of Sydney Buses and their approach to reporting malicious damage and graffiti to bus shelters.

I am aware that most bus shelters are the responsibility of local councils or the RTA.

Many of the bus shelters and roadside seats at bus stops in the Canada Bay area have been vandalised over the last 12 months – graffiti has been sprayed on shelters, signage and seats; glass panels in the shelters have been smashed and signs have been bent or pulled out of the ground.

Much of this damage would be clearly visible to the drivers of the Sydney Buses that stop at these shelters many times per day.  However, it appears that not one driver has bothered to report damage to any bus related infrastructure to the relevant council over the last year.  Sydney Buses expect councils to discover the damage on their own, or for bus customers or residents to report it to council.

My local member said the following in Parliament on 26 June 2008:

Ms ANGELA D'AMORE: The member for Castle Hill referred to my comments on graffiti. Any commander you speak to will tell you that one of the crime prevention strategies with graffiti is to actually report it and remove it within 24 hours.

Can you please explain to me how it might be possible for councils to meet the target of removing graffiti within 24 hours from bus shelters if no one from Sydney Buses ever bothers to report it?  From a legal and technical standpoint, Sydney Buses are correct in standing back and declaring that it is “not their problem”.  However, from a whole-of-government standpoint, their bloody-minded approach to graffiti on infrastructure installed specifically for bus services is appalling.  

Most of their customers would not realise that Sydney Buses is not responsible for bus shelters – it took me some time to find out that this is the case, as information on bus shelter ownership is not readily available.  As far as the customer is concerned, the condition and quality of the bus shelter, signage and seating is ineluctably associated with the bus service.  If I catch a bus, I walk to a bus stop and rest in a bus shelter whilst waiting for the bus to arrive.  I do not walk to a council-provided roadside sign and rest in a council-provided weather sanctuary whilst waiting for a bus to arrive.

Please direct Sydney Buses to change their policies in this regard, and to become a good corporate citizen.

Yours sincerely

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