Bus drivers' terror as violence, drug deals take over
DRUG deals, violence, fare evasion and constant danger are late-week travel staples on Sunshine Coast public transport according to employees whose safety fears are growing.
The claims come a week after a Sunbus driver stepped forward to detail rising numbers of fare evasions, dope deals and poor behaviour ranging from noise, bad language and shooting up, to simulated sex.
They said drug deals were taking place at and around the Maroochydore interchange, in front of Maroochydore Police Station and on buses.
Those who have written to or spoken with the Sunshine Coast Daily said more police were needed at the Maroochydore interchange and others in the network and have called for four senior network officers to be immediately assigned to the region.
They have also called for Sunshine Coast Council to follow Brisbane City Council's lead and install monitored security cameras.
It has been alleged that in four separate incidents this year a female driver was assaulted, a guard had his head stomped on resulting in post traumatic stress disorder, a driver was punched during a meal break in the Big Top Shopping Centre carpark and another driver on his first night on the job had his nose broken after a brawl erupted.
"We want permanent senior network officers day and night," one driver said.
The peak times for trouble were Thursday night, Friday and Saturday nights and the worst runs were the 610, 612 and 620 through Nambour and the 622 through Coolum.
A driver said Thursday late-night shopping at Sunshine Plaza acted as a magnet for trouble makers with weekend prime time delivering the drunks and druggos.
The driver said fare evasion was a constant across all routes and fare evaders were the most likely to litter, spit, swear and engage in unruly behaviour and violence.
Sunshine Coast police relieving district officer, Acting Superintendent Rob Graham, said police were aware fare evasion was occurring however Sunbus internal policy dictated no young person would be refused a ride.
"Sadly, drug dealing is a problem right across the community," he said.
Acting Superintendent Graham said some more targeted operations and patrols would be considered.
"The police prioritise patrols of the transit centre against other calls for service.
"Proactive presence at the transit centre is undertaken whenever police resources permit.
He said police had drug operations across the Sunshine Coast.
"Specific operations have been conducted between police and TransLink senior network officers on numerous occasions, and there is a constant police attendance through the transit centre all hours of the day and night."
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Acting Superintendent Graham said regular plain clothes patrols of the transit centre also occurred.
"The Queensland Police Service encourages any drivers, guards or passengers to report unlawful behaviour and provide the relevant CCTV/footage to assist any subsequent investigation/prosecution," he said.
One transport worker described a recent Saturday night when central Maroochydore was packed with young people out for a good time.
The worker said a drug dealer was doing a roaring trade near the transit centre toilet while people made their way to Hungry Jacks for a late-night burger.
"Drug-affected individuals loiter around the area and there is a constant stream of persons coming and going including teenagers who can be no older than 18 toting their bewildered young child around like baggage," the transport worker wrote.
"Nearby one of the Saturday night guards keeps an eye on the platform however he is powerless to do anything except to call the police - and there's no guarantee they will come.
"The drug dealer is free to peddle his wares as he and his customers know that there are never any police patrols or presence on the platform with the ultimate laughable irony being that the station backs onto the Maroochydore Police Station.
The worker said it was an "open secret" that TransLink buses and also the stations such as Maroochydore, Nambour and Noosa were the preferred distribution network for the Sunshine Coast drug dealers who were able to act with impunity on a daily basis due to lack of police and network office presence.
"TransLink buses are obviously the transport of choice not just for the dealers but also individuals using the system as a taxi service to and from their dealers - of course none of them ever paying."
The Kinetic Group in August took over the operation of buses on the Sunshine Coast for the State Government's TransLink public transport network.
It has been contacted for comment.