Unions: bus drivers are 'not animals'

THEFT: Bus drivers in Auckland say they are being robbed when stopping to use public toilets.
THEFT: Bus drivers in Auckland say they are being robbed when stopping to use public toilets.

"Bus drivers are people, not zoo animals" and need proper toilet facilities instead of having to rely on public toilets and petrol stations, unions say.

With no spots on their routes across Auckland for a toilet break, bus drivers are seeing their cash safes snatched.

Auckland Council's Transport Committee heard this morning from Graham McKean and Phil Morgan from First Union.

Morgan, who is also a bus driver with North Star Bus, urged the committee to consider strategically placed toilets.

He said the current situation meant that bus drivers had to chain the cash safe to the bus - or take it with them.

"When we're laid up in Mayoral Dr, on the other side of K Road, bus drivers have locked the cash box in the bus," Morgan said.

"They get back, and the cash box is gone."

According to Morgan, at any given time, bus drivers can be carrying about $250 in safes.

"This is a regular occurrence, and over the course of time, $250 mounts up. The cabinets we have now are pretty good, but bolt cutters can deal with that," he said.

"And you know street kids will have a go."

He said in Adelaide, South Australia, there were driver toilets every 15 stops.

"We can't rely on service stations. We need strategically placed toilet facilities."

Graham McKean said in no other sector was a lack of toilet facilities acceptable.

"Bus drivers are people, not zoo animals," he said.

"We suggest an urgent review of the existing facilities, and a strategy to accommodate to the drivers' needs."

Councillor Mike Lee, the chairman of the Transport Committee, said there should be regular talks between Auckland Transport and bus drivers to make sure their needs are met - in turn making public transport more effective.

The committee voted to take the concerns of the bus drivers to Greg Edmonds, the chief operating officer of Auckland Transport.

Auckland Now