ROAD SAFETY: Minister of Transport Troy Buswell, Public Transport Authority and Southern Coast Transit (Transperth) – Do they Care About Your Life?

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Relatively recently I experienced two frightening incidents involving Transperth buses operated by Southern Coast Transit, the infamous bus operator in Fremantle. As a result of the first incident I initially raised my concerns (1) with the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia (PTA), however the response (2)left a lot to be desired in my view and hence I expressed my concerns to the Minister of Transport, Mr Troy Buswell (3).

Whilst waiting for a response from Mr Buswell, a second incident occurred; a repeat of the first one at the same intersection, I once again contacted the Minister of Transport (4) as I had had no response to my first letter and clearly the “measured” response (as Dr Constable refers to it) from the PTA had achieved nothing at all.

With this second letter I copied it in to Dr Liz Constable my State Member of Parliament and Ms Adele Carles the Member for Fremantle as the incidents occurred in Fremantle and involved a significant business operating on behalf of the State Government in her electorate.

Ms Carles who is the partner of Mr Buswell has never bothered to reply to my letter. I assume from that lack of silence that Ms Carles does not consider road safety in her electorate to be a matter of concern and/or she lacks the decency to stand up to her partner. I will leave that one to you to judge, but in my world, failing to respond is just plain and simply rude behaviour and shows a lack of respect by Ms Carles to visitors to her electorate of Fremantle.

Interesting, according to Ms Carles blog, her main motivation for entering politics was to ensure a safe future for our children. Apparently that does not extend to their parents nor does it encompass road safety for “our children.” I guess she is too busy campaigning on issues such as James Price Point to care.

Enough of Ms Carles, following the second incident involving a Southern Coast Transit bus and having not heard a word from the Minister of Transport or his office, I followed up the lack of response via email with Dr Constable, the Premier’s office and the Minister of Transport office. Well, that elicited a response for sure! I got a response from the Premier’s office demonstrating a really poor level of comprehension and I got a terse response from Dr Constable (6) again showing a disappointing lack of comprehension. I eventually got a response from the Minister of Transport’s Office but not from the Minister himself. It seems that road safety, the value of human life, does not warrant his attention. Maybe Minister Buswell should have a chat with the Minister of Police, Mr Rob Johnson who not only responds personally but does it in a much more timely manner. Heck, Dr Constable could learn from Mr Johnson too!

I don’t have a usable video of the first instance, but I do have a sort of usable one of the second incident. Both are very similar and where at the same intersection, the corner of Parry and High Streets, Fremantle.

My apologies for the angle of the recording; I didn’t realise at the time that the lens had been turned on the camera.


The first instance involving a Transperth (Southern Coast Transit) driver occurred on August 2, 2011 between 6:30 PM and 6:50 PM so it was dark and it involved Transperth bus number 724. A copy of my letter and statement to Mr Reece Waldock, the Director General of Transport at the time can be found here.

It was the response to this letter from Mr Tim Woolerson, Acting Executive Director, Transperth, Regional Town & School Bus Services (and not Mr Reece Waldock as claimed by Dr Constable)n dated August 19, 2011 that I found seriously lacking given that I contacted the PTA about a serious road safety issue involving a bus and a vulnerable road user, a cyclist. Hardly a fair fight.

In particular I found Mr Woolerson’s comment

I am satisfied that matter was investigated appropriately and the action taken by Southern Coast Transit is consistent in the performance management of its staff.

very unsatisfactory. It was my life put at risk by the driver of bus 724 so frankly I feel that I deserved a more informed and detailed response that this lame brush-off by Mr Woolerson and I expressed my dissatisfaction to Mr Troy Buswell, Minister of Transport on .

Whilst I was waiting for a response from Mr Buswell the second incident occurred at the same intersection, mirroring the previous incident. So much for Mr Woolerson’s “measured response”! Clearly “appropriate action” does equate to actually taking steps to ensure the drivers of Transperth’s buses don’t repeat the same dangerous behaviour!

Subsequent to all this and the follow-up to the various parties I did get a more substantive response from Mr Michael Buba, Principal Policy Adviser in the Minister of Transport’s Office (7). Of course because I mentioned the Police where involved in the second incident, Mr Buba used that as an excuse to avoid taking any action in relation to the incident.

Overall I am of the view that the handling of this matter by the Public Transport Authority in the first instance fell well short of a reasonable response and clear was deficient in light of the second incident. Mr Buba’s response whilst more detailed than Mr Woolerson’s is not encouraging as clearly he and the Minister don’t see repeated dangerous driving by the Southern Coast Transit drivers as a matter of concern.

Furthermore Ms Carles couldn’t be bother to even reply so I guess that makes it clear what her position is and Dr Constable considers Mr Woolerson’s response to be measured. God knows what that means exactly but I do know that Dr Constable response falls well short of good representation in my view and frankly I have no faith in her as to representing her constituents on road safety issues. I do wonder how many serious injuries or deaths are required before Dr Constable would consider the response from Mr Woolerson to be the opposite of measured?

Finally what has the response being from the Police to the second incident known as Incident Report No. 100911 1653 85866 involving Transperth Bus TP 1992.

I summarised the response and my views of it in my letter to the Minister of Police on October 7, 2011:

Officer Armitage has indicated that in voice message left at 1:20 PM on September 27, 2011 that in relation to this traffic complaint that there is no obvious offence and the matter has been “written off”.

Officer Armitage also extends some advice to myself via the voice message in respect to this matter and that advice was that there was “bit of an issue with the bus turning left, probably an issue best taken up with the bus company.”

A “bit of an issue”? Maybe Officer Armitage should come for a ride with me and learn what it feels like to have a bus pull up alongside and then start turning into you! Trust me it is not something that one likes to experience even once. The thought of being hit, worse crushed underneath a large vehicle is damn scary.

The above notwithstanding, of concern is Officer Armitage’s comments. Has Transperth now assumed responsibility for policing in Western Australia?

Recently I have raised similar concerns with the Public Transport Authority having previously experienced the same driving behaviour on the evening of Tuesday, August 2, 2011. This incident was not reported to the Police due to the quality of the video; it was wet and rainy night and I judged it would be pointless exercise. In light of Officer Armitage’s response to this second incident I was clearly correct in my judgement.

The Public Transport Authorities response to the August 2, 2011, incident was to suggest that I report it to the Police. What is the Police response? Take it with the bus company!

I consider Officer Armitage’s handling of this traffic complaint falls well short of expected professional standards and therefore request a review of this traffic complaint please. If the decision of Officer Armitage is upheld, an explanation to myself and the wider cycling community as to why would be appreciated.

In reviewing this video, please understand that it was recorded at 960p, aspect ratio 4:3 with a field of view of 135 degrees, which makes the bus look further away that it actually was. I also apologise for the recording angle; I was not aware that my son had twisted the lens of the camcorder changing the recording angle.

and the response from Superintendent John Lindley of South Metropolitan District, dated November 7, 2011 to the above is as follows:

Incident report No 100911 1653 85866: No offence detected, insufficient evident to proceed.

So there you go, two near misses of a very very similar nature involving Transperth bus and no one is willing to take responsibility. I just hope that the outcome of all this is down the track is that a cyclist does not get seriously injured or worse because of this sort of driving by Transperth drivers. No one should pay in this manner for the failure to act responsibly.

Footnote: As I consider Superintendent John Lindley response to this incident and a three other incidents to fall well short of professional standards expected of the WA Police Force I have followed up his response with my concerns. If there is a material change in the outcome of this incident report I will update this posting to reflect it. Don’t hold your breath in the meantime but.


(1) August 4, 2011 – Initial letter to the Public Transport Authority – Click here for the PDF copy
(2) August 19, 2011 – Response from MrTim Woolerson, Public Transport Authority – Click here for the PDF copy
(3) September 1, 2011 – First letter to the Mr Troy Buswell, Minister of Transport – Click here for the PDF copy
(4) September 15, 2011 – Second letter to the Mr Troy Buswell, Minister of Transport – Click here for the PDF copy
(5) September 28, 2011 – Response from Dr Constable, Member for Churchlands to my September 1, 2011 letter to the Minister of Transport – Click here for the PDF copy
(6) October 26, 2011 – Second response from Dr Constable, Member for Churchlands in response to request for a response from the Minister of Transport – Click here for the PDF Copy
(7) October 28, 2011 – Response from Mr Michael Buba of the Minister of Transport’s office – Click here for the PDF copy

2 Responses to ROAD SAFETY: Minister of Transport Troy Buswell, Public Transport Authority and Southern Coast Transit (Transperth) – Do they Care About Your Life?

  1. perthcatsdepot 3 October 2012 at 7:39 PM #

    We work for Veolia Transdev who operates several bus contracts for Transperth. One of the contracts is to operate Cat buses in Perth city.

    Recently our depot manager: Mr Pete Baile, in consultation with handful of safety representatives decided to make changes to left hand rear view mirror of the bus. Please bear in mind that none of these safety representatives are full time bus drivers. They may be out on the road for 4 hours maximum in a day.
    We used to have a convex mirror of left hand side and on the bottom of this mirror we used to have a convex lens (fish eye).The fish eye was very useful to see if someone was riding/standing close to front left hand wheel. The convex mirror can not show the blind spot existing between the front door of the bus and the front left hand wheel. In a bus, driver is sitting at least meter above the road level so cannot look over shoulder to check across the bus.
    I specify the words “riding/standing” as we operate in Perth CBD where it is pretty busy. Cyclist tries and goes thru a little gap where ever they find and pedestrians stand too close to kerbs.

    Not to mention that while driving on Blue Cat, driver has to quickly go across two lanes to attend a stop as he comes of the roundabout on Stirling hwy & Mounts Bay rd. Driver needs to know who is where in next two lanes, which is only possible by east-west magnification on fish eye. Without fish eye driver has to take his eyes off the road to check his left hand clearance too many times, putting the traffic in front of the bus at risk.

    We raised this issue with Mr Pete Baile; his response was that by placing the fish eye on the mirror, it was cutting the length of mirror and is a hazard. He is only removing the hazard. We advised him by removing the fish eye he was creating another hazard-“a blind spot on left”. We requested him to look into some engineering control. A fish eye doesn’t needs to be glued on the left mirror; it could be placed above or below the main mirror, in a separate frame, just as it is in trucks. He refused that request because of the costing reasons.

    We drivers got together and more than 50 of us signed a petition requesting Mr Pete Baile to look into his discission, as he is creating a bigger hazed (blind spot on left hand side of the bus) while he is removing the other (fish eye glued on left hand mirror). When our union representative took the petition to him, he refused to pay any attention, mentioning that companies are not run on petitions.

    Eventually we had to arrange Mr Kevin Starr to come from the Transport workers Union and a test drive was arranged. In this test drive there was a bus driver, company safety representatives, company trainers and a full analysis was done and a report handed. In the finding it is clearly mentioned that:
    By having the convex lens (fish eye) on left hand mirror the visibility was better, compared to not having the convex lens (fish eye).
    It also mentions that as the existing size of convex lens (fish eye) cuts the visibility in the main left hand convex mirror so an alternative size fish eye is recommended.

    The report was handed few weeks ago; however Mr Pete has once again chosen to ignore the recommendations of safety report and refuses to solve this issue. In interest of saving few extra dollars he is putting other lives at risk.
    Several other bus companies have fish eye in a separate frame to the main convex mirror so why Mr Pete Baile is not happy to follow the lead of other bus companies and follow the recommendations on safety analysis; instead he is more interested in penny pinching at the cost of some ones life.

    We request you to please publish it in your media so that public voice can put some pressure on Mr Pete Baile to re-think his decision.

    Thanking you.


    Perth Cats drivers.

    • Aushiker 4 October 2012 at 9:30 AM #

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. It is very insightful and of course cyclists have also got to play their part. I will share your comments in the Australian Cycling Forums as well as per your request for wider distribution.

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