Local Buses on the Chopping Block
The Eastern Beaches community has rallied in vehement objection to the proposed changes to bus routes throughout the local area.
Under NSW state government proposals, 25 bus routes will be withdrawn with alternative services available, 23 routes changed, and 11 routes introduced.
The changes aim to repurpose underused services that currently run along the same route as the CBD light rail.
The NSW government has flagged that these changes were always intended, as the light rail’s purpose was to take buses off the road and ease congestion.
Dr Marjorie O’Neill, the state member for Coogee, organised a rally against the proposed changes on May 30. Dr O’Neill feels the discontent around the proposed changes is at an all-time high.
“Local people are furious at the NSW Liberal government’s plan to cut 25 bus routes out of the Eastern Suburbs. I have lived in the Eastern Suburbs my entire life and I have never seen our community so angry,” Dr O’Neill told The Beast.
However, the NSW minister for transport, Andrew Constance, believes that some of this discontent stems from a misunderstanding around the finality of the proposed changes.
“The key thing is that nothing is set in stone. Through the consultation, we’re getting a lot of feedback about Taylor Square and St Vincent’s Hospital. That’s the kind of thing that we can tease out and we fix, so at the end of the day there will probably be an amendment to that route because of the community feedback,” Mr Constance told The Beast.
Other areas of concern in the proposed changes are the dead zones created in South Coogee and Matraville, where many residents who are less mobile will have more walking and changes in their trips.
“It will be the vulnerable members of our community who are the most impacted – the elderly, the less able, parents with small children and people who do not own a car are being isolated and abandoned by this government,” Dr O’Neill said of the proposed changes.
Mr Constance told The Beast he was amenable to hearing where services could be changed to better serve the community, but their overall aim was a smoother network.
“We’re actually making it a turn up and go service, so even though people may have to change buses, their overall journey time will be less,” Mr Constance said.
While some routes are being cut, the new light rail means there are 50 per cent more transport services running in the Eastern Suburbs than there were five years ago.
The negative community sentiment that has plagued the light rail has fuelled fears around further bus changes. Dr O’Neill ultimately wants an enquiry into the removal of the bus services before any cuts go ahead.
“This government needs to listen to the people of the Eastern Suburbs in order to make decisions that are in the public interest. That is why we are calling on this government to immediately establish an independent enquiry, at arm’s length from government, into the removal of these bus services and the planned privatisation before any more cuts are made.”
As the proposed routes are still in a consultation stage, Mr Constance says he welcomes community feedback about further changes they think are necessary for the proposed routes.
“I encourage people to look at their own personal journeys and come to us with any problems or solutions they might have. Furthermore, the people using light rail love it, so my message to the community is to please consider light rail when you’re planning your trip,” Mr Constance said.
Commuters can visit mysydney.nsw.gov.au/SE_bus_changes to find out more about the changes and to provide feedback on the proposed plan up to June 30.
If you want to have a rant about the bus changes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.