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Published: 2004-08-04 00:00:00

A proposed change to bus driver driving hours could increase public transport costs by 10 to 15 percent, according to Environment Waikato’s Regional Passenger Transport Subcommittee.

The Council is writing to MPs in the Region expressing its concern that proposed changes to the driving hours regulations would increase the costs of providing public transport in the Waikato.

The Land Transport Safety Authority is proposing regulations to reduce the hours an urban bus driver can work without a meal break from five and a half hours to five hours.

The LTSA says it has concerns about stress and fatigue for drivers. The time proposed is different from that proposed for long distance truck and bus drivers and taxi drivers. Long distance truckies and bus drivers can drive for five and a half hours without a meal break and taxi drivers for seven hours.

Hamilton City Council representative Dave Macpherson said the city may need more flexibility than Auckland, as driving was less stressful and had different conditions, but a “one size fits all” approach had been taken.

Bus representative Craig Worth said his company was struggling to staff buses at the moment and it would need 18 extra drivers to accommodate the changed rules. The change would probably mean paying more people to work a 35 hour week, reducing the hours of existing drivers who worked 45 hours a week.

Drivers would not be happy with this idea.

He said the Land Transport Safety Authority had been directed by the Minister to make the change and was apologetic about the ramifications.

“This will impact adversely on the economics of passenger transport.”