A new weekday timetable for the ACTION network will begin next month after bus drivers overwhelmingly voted in favour of more flexible shift breaks.
The timetable includes a new all-day service linking Woden, Cooleman Court and Civic, and new direct peak services for Crace, Florey and Latham.
Approval follows extended delays after ACTION realised a weekday timetable proposed to take effect last October could not go ahead as it had about 17 buses fewer than required to run the schedule.
Transport Workers Union ACT secretary Klaus Pinkus said 80 per cent of ACTION drivers voted for the latest timetable during a four-hour stop work meeting in the middle of Tuesday.
The majority agreed to give up a prescribed but problematic 10-minute break between the second and third hour of driving, provided for in the current enterprise agreement, for flexible breaks at the end of each run.
“There may be three or four little breaks [a shift], there may be two, and one day you might get 10 minutes a break, the other you might get three or four minutes,” he said.
“It will improve it. There’s a hell of a lot of frustration that it’s taking so long to get to this place.”
Mr Pinkus said members imposed two conditions, which provided for a review of the operating timetable after one month and the need for TWU approval to implement any other shifts.
A Transport Canberra and City Services spokesman said the break between the second and third hour had created substantial operating issues for ACTION, particularly during peak periods, and the new arrangements – to take effect at the end of August – were a win-win for passengers and drivers.
“Under the new arrangements drivers will still receive adequate breaks, with longer breaks between each route run offsetting new arrangements agreed in respect of the existing 10-minute rule,” he said.
Mr Pinkus said a full-time shift was between 8 and 10 hours with a meal break, and a run was usually between 30 and 50 minutes.
The embarrassing delay to a new weekday timetable occurred after software wrongly counted “ghost buses” which would be out of action while drivers took their breaks.
The all-day service between Woden and Civic will be branded the Weston Line, and run every 30 minutes between 7am and 7pm.
There are 721 ACTION bus drivers and a fleet of 420 busses. There is no increase in the number of busses operating as a result of the new timetable.