Souths On The Buses

17th August 2007

FORGET mesh screens, cameras or burly security guards. Down Maroubra way, the most effective strategy against rock throwing has been a coat of paint. Last month, after night-time rock-throwing attacks on the 394 and nearby routes, two buses were painted by local teenagers. One had a beach theme, to reflect Maroubra, and the other an indigenous motif for the teenagers at La Perouse. Since the buses started running, there have been no more attacks. "We have been told by some of our high-risk young offenders that those buses will be left alone," said the crime manager at Maroubra station, Paul Pisanos. Yesterday, two more colourful buses - this time painted in the livery of the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league team - were unveiled at Maroubra. The buses will operate out of the Port Botany depot and are part of a community partnership involving Sydney Buses and the club's philanthropic arm, Souths Cares. The project was launched by the retiring fullback David Peachey, Souths' co-owner, Peter Holmes a Court, and State Transit's acting chief, Peter Rowley. While the buses were not painted by local teenagers, the organisers hope they will strengthen the relationship with the local community. "Public transport is an essential part of the community," Mr Rowley said. "We have a job to do in this community and the goodwill that will no doubt stem from this initiative will benefit our drivers and our passengers." The new-look Souths buses will begin running this week. There were almost 350 cases of rock throwing against State Transit buses in Sydney in the six months to May this year. A private company halted services to Willmot in June after a spate of attacks, including one in which a stone was fired through a bus window with a slingshot. At the time, transport chiefs said they had done all they could, including lining windows with safety film and fitting duress alarms to buses. The plan to give teenagers in La Perouse and Maroubra a bus of their own was hatched by police, Randwick City Council, government departments and Souths Cares. They hoped that by holding art competitions in local schools and inviting students to paint the buses, the young people would feel a sense of ownership.