By JACK MAHONY
Leichhardt commuters are being left to contend with the elements thanks to a lack of bus stop shelters in the area.
In 2019, during a typical week there were close to 60,000 bus trips to and from or within Leichhardt from well over 50 bus stops. Yet, currently there are only 18 bus stops with shelters and 23 with seats leaving travellers exposed to the elements.
The Inner West Council is responsible for the construction of the bus shelters, a spokesperson for the council said that council provides shelters at, “some prioritised highly-utilised locations.”
The need for bus stops shelters is only reviewed following requests by the public or on the occasion that Transport NSW proposes the relocation of a bus stop.
Summer is expected to be hotter than average, so cover is crucial.
11,500 Australian men and women are diagnosed with melanoma each year, often from sun exposure. Commuters waiting a long time at unsheltered stops are also at risk of heat stroke, exhaustion and dehydration.
Older commuters at risk
Over 16 percent of Leichhardt’s population is over the age of 65 and those spending time outside during summer need to take extra precautions to protect their skin from melanoma.
Local residents have voiced their concern about the amount of shelter. Susan Hawkeswood is over 60 and catches the bus nearly every day, she would like to see a shelter at every stop.
“It’s alright for young people, but once you’re getting on in life to be standing for 15-20 minutes and not being able to sit down, it’s quite arduous,” she told the Inner West Independent.
“As you can see from the one, we’re sitting near, the shelter and the bus stop are quite a long way apart … you’ve got to be watching out, jump up flag the bus run up, that’s very awkward”
Laura McFarlane catches the buses two to three times a day in Leichhardt, she is also concerned about the lack of shade cover entering the hotter months. She said, “not having enough shade around bus stops will prevent any type of safe spot.”
“I think the council should definitely put more shade around the bus stops,” she said.
Bus stops with high usage are prioritised when constructing shelters however sometimes seats and shelters aren’t provided. Footpath width, shop awnings, visual impacts for drivers and visual obstructions for shopfronts were reasons listed by the Inner West Council.
A new bus shelter costs from $25,000-$30,000 to build, while a seat costs approximately $7,000. Despite the high price tag, shade is not able to be provided all throughout the day due to the constraints of the footpaths and the direction the shelters must face.
Moving into summer, council said the NSW health website provides hot weather information and advice for residents.