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Challenging Year Ahead For Bus & Coach Industry

Bus and Coach Industry: A Hugely Challenging Year Ahead

This year's Bus and Coach Association conference was a resounding success, despite the major challenges facing the industry.

The conference, held in Invercargill last week, attracted more than 300 delegates and its trade exhibition hosted 32 exhibits and 18 bus and coach displays.

BCA chief executive officer Raewyn Bleakley all the international and national speakers were of extremely high quality and had sparked healthy debate on the challenges faced by the industry and how best to grapple with them.

Pending legislation was one of these main issues and could wreak heavy costs for bus and coach companies, she said.

The Employment Relations (Infant Feeding and Breaks) Amendment Bill was reported back to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee yesterday (July 21).

The bill sets out requirements to provide facilities and breaks for employees who wish to breastfeed and to provide employees with rest and meal breaks.

Ms Bleakley said the BCA fully supported employees having breaks but rest and break provisions were already covered in the recently-amended Work Time and Logbook Rule. In its submission, the BCA opposed the bill or at the very least, asked that its workers be exempt.

If the bill is enacted, even with yesterday's amendments, bus company employers could face penalties under two sets of conflicting requirements.

The resulting impacts could cost the bus and coach industry $50 million a year in extra expenses and service disruptions and these costs would ultimately be passed onto the general public and fare paying passengers, Ms Bleakley said.

Another piece of legislation – the Public Transport Management Bill – was also opposed by the BCA.

The bill would allow regional authorities too much control over urban bus services and had the potential to stifle investment and innovation in urban transport, she said.

"Basically, regional councils will have the right to introduce changes without financial responsibility – the industry will have to wear any resulting costs. We hope the select committee has listened carefully to our views on this."

The Public Transport Management Bill's report-back date to the select committee is currently August 4.

"The challenges posed by the legislation, along with issues such as driver shortages, the road user charge increases and rising fuel prices, is creating a very tough environment for our members. It is going to be an interesting year ahead."

The conference had enabled many important issues to be aired and Ms Bleakley said she had received an overwhelmingly positive response from delegates about the quality of both the speakers and the social activities.

The two international speakers were Professor John Stanley, a sustainable transport expert from the University of Sydney, and Axel Fischers from MAN Germany, a bus engineering company.

Local speakers included Peter Blackwell of the Automobile Association, Elizabeth Yeoman of EECA and the Minister of Tourism Damien O'Connor.


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