Sydney bus drivers are switching off Opal card terminals today in protest against privatisation

Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Sydney commuters catching the bus today may get a free ride as drivers switch off the Opal card terminals as part of an ongoing protest against the privatisation of inner West services by the NSW government.

The Rail, Tram & Bus Union has organised a “fare free day” involving 12 bus depots across the city, and will turn off the Opal machines. The north shore and northern beaches, inner west and eastern suburbs are among the areas involved. But that means the data used by transport apps will not function so real-time tracking and occupation levels will not operate on the apps.

The industrial action follows a snap 24-hour strike last month when transport minister Andrew Constance, announced that the government would privatise 233 bus routes in Sydney’s inner west because it considers complaint levels too high.

Around 3,500 State Transit bus drivers are expected to take part in today’s action and the union has asked them to wear “loud and colourful” shirts.

RTBU Bus Division President David Woollams accused the minister of trying to fast track the process after the expressions of interest period for private bus operators was brought forward and closes today after just a week.

“Instead of listening to the community and public transport workers who oppose bus privatisation, minister Constance is trying to speed up the ‘bus sell off’ process,” he said.

“This extraordinarily short tender period for such a massive contract which includes over 200 bus routes across one third of Sydney, shows that minister Constance is panicking and trying to ram through his bus privatisation plans before the community catches onto what he’s doing.

“It’s an absolutely disgraceful way to conduct yourself in public office. Trying to flog off the public assets before they get the chance to realise what you’re doing and oppose you.”

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.