TransLink and delivery partner Sunbus will ramp up efforts to stamp out anti-social behaviour on the Cairns and Townsville public transport networks with the introduction of eight Customer Service Officers (CSO) later this year.
In a major boost for customers in regional Queensland, TransLink and Sunbus have invested in a pilot that will deploy teams of four CSOs each on Cairns and Townsville's Sunbus services over a 12-month period.
Recruitment of the extra CSOs has begun and they will join the network in November, extending a current 12-month pilot of eight CSOs that began in January on Westside and Park Ridge Transit services.
The pilots have been developed in response to two youth fare evasion roundtables hosted last year by the State Government, which continues to deliver initiatives as part of the five-point bus driver safety plan created in June 2018.
The success of both pilots will be evaluated upon completion to assess the suitability of a broader rollout of delivery partner-led enforcement models throughout Queensland.
Head of TransLink Matt Longland said there was a zero-tolerance policy around violence and anti-social behaviour on the public transport network, with the CSOs to build strong partnerships with Queensland Police and local community groups to deliver solutions that promote the safe use of public transport.
"Earlier this year, Kinetic, the operator of Sunbus, approached the State Government about the possibility of implementing this CSO pilot in north Queensland and it was something we felt had real merit," Mr Longland said.
"Our existing CSOs and Senior Network Officers (SNO) in South East Queensland play a valuable role on the network and we know they will make a real difference in regional Queensland too.
"I'd like to thank Kinetic for working with us to deliver an initiative that will be a real boost for the networks in Cairns and Townsville."
Kinetic Chief Operations Officer Matthew Carney congratulated the State Government for its commitment to supporting public transport in regional Queensland.
"Each and every one of our drivers are immensely proud of the role they play in keeping these regions connected and moving – and the introduction of CSOs to the network will help them do their job and give passengers a greater experience with our services that will hopefully encourage more people to travel with us," Mr Carney said.
“We have a deep desire to use our influence to improve the communities in which we live and operate, and we will continue to invest in the safety of our people and passengers so that everyone can be confident that catching the bus is one of the best and safest ways to travel.”
The announcement of the eight CSOs in Cairns and Townsville comes after 12 new TransLink SNOs began training earlier this month.
The SNOs will arrive on the South East Queensland network in late October, joining 50 existing officers.
Sunbus has also begun fitting improved safety screens on new and refurbished vehicles in Cairns and Townsville.
"The State Government continues to act on the initiatives developed as part of the five-point bus driver safety plan and the regional CSO pilot will only add to that," Mr Longland said.
"Those initiatives include the installation of more than 1150 driver safety barriers through the Bus Driver Safety Scheme, our bus driver safety public awareness campaign 'See it from their side', and the two youth fare evasion roundtables last year.
"We have also entered into a new partnership with the Queensland Bus Industry Council and Griffith University to develop a de-escalation training video package for bus drivers, while we are working with the Department of Education to pilot a new program to promote appropriate behaviour on public transport to school students.
"We are committed to public transport safety and we look forward to seeing our eight new CSOs on the network in Cairns and Townsville later this year."