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Pedestrian Council of Australia

Safety – Amenity – Access – Health

 

Media Release

Thursday 23 June 2005
COSTA’S COVERT MEDDLING WITH PENALTIES
AND DEMERIT POINTS SET TO WRECK CARR’S BUS LANES

 

The Chairman of the PCA, Harold Scruby said: “We congratulate both Premier Bob Carr and Transport Minister John Watkins on yesterday’s announcement regarding extended Bus Lanes in Sydney’s CBD and better enforcement.

 

“However, behind the scenes, the Minister for Roads, Michael Costa, has quietly and without any consultation with the major stakeholders or the public, changed the former Roads Minister, Carl Scully’s revised Penalties and Demerit Point Scheme, announced last September.  These changes will render the Bus Lane system almost inoperable.

 

http://www.walk.com.au/pedestriancouncil/Page.asp?PageID=785

 

“Mr Scully’s scheme would have seen a $225 penalty and 3 Demerit Points for Stopping in a Bus Zone. 

 

“The scheme was widely advertised by the RTA seeking public submissions.  The RTA’s primary focus was consistency and fairness.  It was based upon NRMA's policy, released March 2003 (which followed their major review of fines and DPs) which was and is that:: "The Demerit Points (DP) Scheme needs to be reviewed to ensure it is fair, consistent and focused on safety. All safety-related offences should incur demerit points.  Penalties should be reviewed to ensure that offences that are most likely to endanger the community carry higher penalties …".     

 

“Mr Scully’s scheme received the unanimous approval from all the major stakeholders concerned including: NSW Police, Ministry of Police, Pedestrian Council of Australia, NRMA, RTA the NSW P&C, Council on the Ageing, NSW Council Rangers and all the Disabilities groups.   The proposed penalties for Bus Zones had total support from the State Transit Authority (see attached copy of email from Lyall Kennedy, General Manager, Service Development, STA).

 

“The Demerit Point Task Force deliberately promoted this policy so it would be consistent and in line with the $225 penalty and 3 Demerit Points for driving in a Bus Lane.  Taxis are already permitted to stop for up to a minute in a Bus Lane to pick up and set down passengers.  This anomalous Regulation in itself is a major impediment to the efficiency and safety of the bus system.

 

“But under pressure from the taxi industry and other vested interests and without any consultation or transparency, Mr Costa has removed the Demerit Points for the offence of stopping in a Bus Zone and reduced the Penalty to $175.

 

“The effect of this decision will be that there will now be a clear incentive to stop in Bus Zones, where there is an extremely high potential for harm as confirmed by the STA (the bus drivers are forced to double-park and let passengers on and off the bus on the road), while there is no potential for harm whatsoever for driving in a Bus Lane.

 

“To add insult to injury, taxis are permitted to stop for up to one minute in a Bus Lane which will cause enormous disruption to the efficient running and time-tables of buses.  But it gets worse; while the penalty for driving in a Bus Lane is $225 and 3 DPs, the penalty for stopping and parking in a Bus Lane (a far more disruptive and unsafe behaviour), only attracts a penalty of $175 and No Demerit Points.

 

“But this Minister who has shown utter contempt for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, has also included in his new package probably the most inconsistent and unfair penalty of all.  He has left the penalty for stopping and parking on a footpath at $75.  So motorists will now have a major incentive to park on Sydney’s footpaths, forcing pedestrians to walk out onto the road.  And once booked, they can park there all day, without fear of an additional penalty.  It’s now about the same cost as for parking all day in the Governor Macquarie Tower.

 

“The same anomaly applies to parking in a Bus Zone.  Once the Parking Infringement Notice (PIN) has been issued, the owner of the vehicle can leave it there all day, without fear of an additional PIN.  And there are no tow-away provisions.  This is in spite of the Auditor-General calling for multiple penalties for offences such as these for over 6 years.

 

http://www.walk.com.au/pedestriancouncil/page.asp?PageID=673&SiteID=1

 

“We call on the Premier to urgently override Mr Costa’s clandestine decisions and correct all these anomalies to ensure the efficient and safe operation of our Public Transport system and the safety of passengers and pedestrians.  Mr Scruby said.

 

 

 

 

Harold Scruby - Chairman/CEO – Pedestrian Council of Australia - Tel: (02) 9968-4555   (0418) 110-011

Email: scruby@walk.com.au  Internet:  www.walk.com.au


__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

-----Original Message-----

 

From: Lyall_Kennedy@sta.nsw.gov.au [mailto:Lyall_Kennedy@sta.nsw.gov.au]

Sent: Wednesday, 7 July 2004 11:01 AM

To: walking@walk.com.au

Subject: Adhsell and Illegal Parking in bus zones

 

 

Mr Scruby,

 

Firstly I apologise for the delay in responding.

 

Parking of vehicles in bus zones and on footways near bus stops is a problem for State Transit. As you correctly pointed out, it impacts on bus operations and creates a safety risk to our passengers who can be forced to board and be set down in the traffic lane.

 

....

 

With regards to State Transit's response to the Demerit Point & Penalties Review, we sought the loss of demerit points in addition to the fine.

 

Extract from our letter below:

 

State  Transit  requests that  the penalties  for these offences be equivalent to the  proposed  penalties  for  stopping on/near a pedestrian crossing.  If a vehicle is illegally parked at a bus stop, the bus then has to stop and set passengers down in the through traffic lane.   This  raises  similar safety issues as the safety concerns over stopping  near  a  pedestrian crossing, children’s crossing, or marked foot crossing especially if the bus is conveying school  students.  It is requested that the penalties for Stop in bus zone and Stop in/on bus/transit/truck lane be set at an equivalent rating of $225/3 points.

 

Due to the concerns we have regarding vehicles illegally parking in bus zones, State Transit also requests that illegally parked vehicles be able to be towed from bus zones.

 

Thank you for the continued assistance of the Pedestrian Council in creating a better environment for pedestrians of which many are our passengers. I will confirm with you the RTA's clarification on the Australian Road Rules exemption as soon as we have a response.

 

Regards

 

Lyall Kennedy

GM Service Development