By ALLISON HORE
In a bid to “improve connections” to the CBD and South East Light Rail, the NSW government has announced a plan to slash the number of bus services across Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.
Under the plan, which the government is currently seeking feedback on, 25 bus services will be cut, 23 will be modified and 11 will be modified. The NSW government say bus services are only being cut where alternative transport options exist.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance says cutting the services will better connect bus routes with “turn-up-and-go” light rail services and create a more “integrated” transport network across the city’s east.
“The new proposed integrated network plan for Sydney’s south east will provide much needed capacity and frequency improvements for customers, while also better supporting existing and emerging travel patterns,” Mr. Constance said.
The government says the new, integrated network will increase transport capacity by 40 percent in the morning peak and by more than 45 percent in the evening peak, when compared to 2019. They added, the network changes would mean bus services to key locations including Bondi Junction, UNSW, Newtown, the University of Sydney, Eastgardens, Green Square and Redfern will be made more frequent.
Locals hit back
But the proposed changes haven’t been warmly received by much of the community. Among those services being cut are the popular 373 from Coogee to Circular Quay and 393 from Little Bay to Central.
Member for Coogee Marjorie O’Neill, of the Labor party, slammed the government’s plan. She said Eastern Suburbs commuters had chosen bus services over the light rail and claimed the slashing of bus services was essentially a way for the NSW government to “punish” locals for the Liberal party’s “infrastructure mistakes.”
“Our buses are being removed to force people to use the failed Light Rail as its patronage is down 90 percent from anticipated levels,” Ms. O’Neill said.
“Our buses and the light rail have been running simultaneously for the past 12 months and our community has voted with their feet.”
The NSW branch of the rail, tram and bus union also criticised the move. They called it a “betrayal” of the residents who had “campaigned relentlessly to save their transport services” when the proposed cuts were leaked last year.
“The government’s blatant disregard for the community, including its own constituents, baffles belief. But the community won this consultation, and now it’s time to hammer the message home,” they said.
The proposed bus route changes are open for feedback until June 18th. Should they go ahead, they will be introduced in late 2021. Ms. O’Neil is urging locals to get behind her petition to save the affected bus routes and to come along to a rally she is organising on the 30th of May in Randwick.