Perth Cat Bus Drivers Speak Out on Safety Issues Involving Cyclists


The following comment was made left on a posting at titled Minister of Transport Troy Buswell, Public Transport Authority and Southern Coast Transit (Transperth) – Do they Care About Your Life? and I thought it worth sharing here as it raises an issue with mirrors and blind spots as experienced by Transperth bus drivers and it has implications to for cyclists. As cyclists we too need to be aware of potential blind spots and to work with Transperth drivers.

The comment is quoted here verbatim.

We work for Veolia Transdev who operates several bus contracts for Transperth. One of the contracts is to operate Cat buses in Perth city.
Recently our depot manager: Mr Pete Baile, in consultation with handful of safety representatives decided to make changes to left hand rear view mirror of the bus. Please bear in mind that none of these safety representatives are full time bus drivers. They may be out on the road for 4 hours maximum in a day.

We used to have a convex mirror of left hand side and on the bottom of this mirror we used to have a convex lens (fish eye).The fish eye was very useful to see if someone was riding/standing close to front left hand wheel. The convex mirror can not show the blind spot existing between the front door of the bus and the front left hand wheel. In a bus, driver is sitting at least meter above the road level so cannot look over shoulder to check across the bus.

I specify the words “riding/standing” as we operate in Perth CBD where it is pretty busy. Cyclist tries and goes thru a little gap where ever they find and pedestrians stand too close to kerbs.

Not to mention that while driving on Blue Cat, driver has to quickly go across two lanes to attend a stop as he comes of the roundabout on Stirling hwy & Mounts Bay rd. Driver needs to know who is where in next two lanes, which is only possible by east-west magnification on fish eye. Without fish eye driver has to take his eyes off the road to check his left hand clearance too many times, putting the traffic in front of the bus at risk.

We raised this issue with Mr Pete Baile; his response was that by placing the fish eye on the mirror, it was cutting the length of mirror and is a hazard. He is only removing the hazard. We advised him by removing the fish eye he was creating another hazard-“a blind spot on left”. We requested him to look into some engineering control. A fish eye doesn’t needs to be glued on the left mirror; it could be placed above or below the main mirror, in a separate frame, just as it is in trucks. He refused that request because of the costing reasons.

We drivers got together and more than 50 of us signed a petition requesting Mr Pete Baile to look into his discission, as he is creating a bigger hazed (blind spot on left hand side of the bus) while he is removing the other (fish eye glued on left hand mirror). When our union representative took the petition to him, he refused to pay any attention, mentioning that companies are not run on petitions.

Eventually we had to arrange Mr Kevin Starr to come from the Transport workers Union and a test drive was arranged. In this test drive there was a bus driver, company safety representatives, company trainers and a full analysis was done and a report handed. In the finding it is clearly mentioned that:

By having the convex lens (fish eye) on left hand mirror the visibility was better, compared to not having the convex lens (fish eye).

It also mentions that as the existing size of convex lens (fish eye) cuts the visibility in the main left hand convex mirror so an alternative size fish eye is recommended.

The report was handed few weeks ago; however Mr Pete has once again chosen to ignore the recommendations of safety report and refuses to solve this issue. In interest of saving few extra dollars he is putting other lives at risk.

Several other bus companies have fish eye in a separate frame to the main convex mirror so why Mr Pete Baile is not happy to follow the lead of other bus companies and follow the recommendations on safety analysis; instead he is more interested in penny pinching at the cost of some ones life.

We request you to please publish it in your media so that public voice can put some pressure on Mr Pete Baile to re-think his decision.

Thanking you.
Perth Cats drivers.

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* The image used in this post has been sourced from WA Today

About Andrew

Andrew Priest (aka Aushiker) is a Board member of the Bicycle Transport Alliance and a keen cyclist and bushwalker who is a passionate advocate of cycling and cyclist road safety. All views expressed here are his own and not those necessarily of the board of the Bicycle Transport Alliance.