by ALEC SMART
The NSW Govt is considering axing bus services in Sydney’s south-eastern suburbs according to a leaked Transport for NSW draft document and confirmed by the rail, tram and bus industry union, RTBU. The aim is to reduce the number of buses running through the CBD during peak periods. Existing express bus services, however, will remain in place.
Up to 16 bus routes will be affected, including services to Maroubra, Coogee and southern suburbs, to be replaced by four new bus services. Outlined as a means to ‘remove duplications’ in transport services, it appears the NSW Govt’s intention is to channel commuters onto the new CBD and Southeast Light Rail, which has been criticised for its slow running speeds and inconsistent schedules.
The Labor Party member for Coogee, Marjorie O’Neill, said the cuts represented about 1600 journeys per day, or 10,000 per week.
David Babineau, Tram and Bus Division Secretary of the RBTU, which represents over 13,000 workers across the rail and public transport industries, condemned the proposal.
“It’s clear that what’s happened is that the NSW Government has realised that it needs to drive people onto the light rail in order to justify the exorbitant amount of money it has blown on the project, and it doesn’t seem to care about the inconvenience that will cause for commuters.”
Popular routes such as the 393 from Central Station to Little Bay and the 373 from Circular Quay to Coogee are facing the chop. The former suggests rumours are correct that the light rail will eventually be extended to Little Bay to feed a massive high-rise development program, that will see the quiet seaside suburb transformed into a Gold Coast style metropolis.
Light rail at Little Bay will make it easier to lure tourists from the proposed mega cruise ship terminal at nearby Yarra Bay and take them on to the city.
A spokesperson for NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance, said “Planning for these changes is still in the early stages and will be informed by Opal data, changed customer travel patterns, and feedback. The detailed plan has not been finalised.”
However, Babineau said “It’s far too soon to even be thinking about doing this. No one yet has a full picture of how the system is going to operate. The NSW Government did this with the Metro in the North West – they axed services far too quickly and people were left stranded. It seems they haven’t learnt from their mistakes at all.
“This is yet another slap in the face for eastern suburbs commuters who have already had to endure the long and costly process of construction of the light rail tracks and have the fear of bus privatisation hanging over their heads.”