‘You can only imagine the panic a parent would go through’
A GOLD Coast bus driver will be honoured with a safety award for "professionalism" after finding a sleeping child on his bus, but a co-worker said it's proof the company is not looking after its young charges properly.
The 12-year-old child had fallen asleep on the Tweed route 1236 bus home on Wednesday afternoon and went unnoticed until the bus was back at the Tweed Heads depot.
The child woke up as the bus driver was doing a final check of the bus and the parents were called to collect them, Surfside Buses confirmed.
A Surfside Buses employee, who did not want to be named, told the Bulletin it raised issues over child safety.
"My understanding is that you should always check the bus at the last stop so you know if you've missed someone, clearly that wasn't done," they said.
"You can only imagine how much panic a parent would go through when their child is missing - you feel it even when it's not your child."
It is understood the driver involved is a senior employee and has been behind the wheel for more than ten years.
Surfside Buslines general manager Martin Hall said the child was never put in danger and was always in the presence of an adult.
"I thank the driver for his professionalism in following our safety procedures and he will be receiving our monthly safety award to recognise his efforts and professionalism in conducting his job," he said.
Protocols around checking buses after shifts were tightened across the state in January last year after a five-year-old Logan girl was left on a Logan Coaches school bus for nearly five hours after she also fell asleep on the trip home.
It comes as Gold Coast bus drivers claim they are forced to ignore industry standards by working late nights and early mornings during NRL games on the Coast.
"At least seven or eight drivers worked until 9.20pm for the Titans and Raiders game two Sundays ago - which is 10.20pm NSW time - then they're back at work doing the school run by 7am (NSW)," the whistleblower said.
"They're supposed to get 10 hour mandatory breaks, it's scary to know that it's not happening.
"The driver is supposed to know the rules, it's up to them, but if you say no (to the job) you won't get another charter, so you have to say yes, that's the situation they put you in."
The staff member said parents would be "horrified" if they knew their kids bus drivers were going to work tired.
"They're responsible for up to 80 kids the next morning, it's precious cargo."
"As a parent you would be very concerned, I think that's rather alarming, they're definitely breaking the rules and they're putting people in danger."
"If you have that many people behind you and you're responsible for them you've got to be at your sharpest."
Surfside Buses told the Bulletin all driver rostering was compliant with Heavy Vehicle (Fatigue Management) National Regulation.