GET READY: To do the bus stop.
GET READY: To do the bus stop. Karin von Behrens

One man's stubborn stance over bus driver strike


AS A child my father's extreme enthusiasm for ethics and the environment was often a cause of horror and social humiliation. Never more so than on the day of a local bus drivers' strike in the ACT.

It was the late eighties and the internet wasn't a thing. Up-to-date information was hard to come by. Some buses were running, others were not, it was not clear which.

Dad turned up to the bus stop at his usual time and stood with all the local school kids, waiting.

The bus which usually ferried the public school kids to class did not arrive. The private school bus did, which made dad a little mad. The private school bus was heading to the bus interchange and so was dad, so he got on.

The bus driver pointed out that as it was a school bus, he needed to get off. Dad pointed out the injustice of the situation and the public school kids still waiting by the kerb. He also pointed out the logic of the situation - the bus was going where he needed to go - so he could not see the problem. He sat down, pulled out his book and started reading.

As an ex-teacher, it's possible my father really just wanted to lead the charge in terms of getting the public school kids to class, or perhaps he wanted to teach the private school kids a lesson in social activism. I am not sure because at this point in the story, as my mother re-told it that night, I had turned green and was doubled over in humiliation. I was sure I might know some of the kids on that bus.

It was not so much a case of 'Oh captain my captain' as 'Oh captor my captor', as the bus driver refused to drive and my father refused to get off.

Eventually a car was sent by the bus company to take him to the interchange and the private school kids eventually got to school late, having had an extra lesson in stubbornness, if nothing else.

Dad arrived at work well-read.

As I have aged, I really appreciate the value of my father's belligerently ethical stance, the value of buses that get from A to B seamlessly and bus drivers who's daily challenges are hard to imagine.

In the Northern Rivers I am told the local school buses provide a very solid transport network, effectively getting children to and from school for free. Northern Rivers Buslines and Blanch's Bus Company both say adults can pay to ride on the school buses.

Transport NSW concur: "Yes they can but it's at the driver's discretion, so only if there's room on the bus."

THIS MONTH is Car Free February and on Tuesday February 27 Northern Rivers Buslines, Blanch's Bus Company, Busways, Brunswick Valley Coaches, Casino Bus Services and Busways Grafton and will have free bus services on offer.

An initiative of Social Futures, Car Free February encourages people to catch a bus, ride a bike, walk or carpool with a colleague or friend.

"As extra incentive, we have some great prizes to give away including a $500 Flight Centre Voucher, 3 x yearly Spotify subscriptions, and some free weekly bus tickets." said Social Futures' Transport Development Officer Alex Lewers.

"To enter the draw to win, simply post a selfie going 'car free' on the Northern Star Facebook page with the hashtag #carfreefeb by midnight 28 February." or People wanting to check public transport in their area can visit

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