City News

Sydneysiders impacted by inner west “light rail fail” demand answers

The inner west Light Rail has been dormant for a month, during which locals have been inconvenienced and small businesses have suffered a loss in foot traffic. Photo: Creative Commons.

By EVA BAXTER

New bus routes have begun operating to cover the tracks of the out of order for up to 18 months Dulwich Hill to Central and return Light Rail line.

The tram service has been replaced by three separate bus routes running either in the inner city, or from Central to Lilyfield, or Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill.

Travellers wishing to go from Central to Dulwich Hill must now change at Lilyfield or The Star. Notably, The Star is the only stop serviced by all three routes.

Minister for Transport Rob Stokes said, “we understand the closure is disruptive, which is why we’ve developed a longer-term replacement services plan to provide more travel options for the inner west.”

Route 2L1 Central to The Star and return stops at Central, Paddy’s Market, Convention and The Star.

Route 3L1 Lilyfield to Central via Glebe, The Star stops at Lilyfield, Rozelle Bay, Jubilee Park, Glebe, Wentworth Park, Fish Markets, John St Square, The Star, Convention, Paddy’s Market and Central.

Route 4L1 Dulwich Hill to The Star via Anzac Bridge and return stops at Dulwich Hill, Dulwich Grove, Arlington, Waratah Mills, Lewisham West, Taverners Hill, Marion, Hawthorne, Leichhardt North, Lilyfield and The Star.

Transport for NSW said, “if you are travelling between Central Station and Darling Harbour, walking might be an alternative transport option.”

A 50% discounted fare applies on board Light Rail replacement bus services.

Replacement buses do not stop at Capitol Square, Exhibition Centre or Pyrmont Bay.

Troublesome tour

Tommaso Marzella, a Pyrmont local, uses the inner west Light Rail service mainly on weekends to head west to Tramsheds or Glebe Markets, and to the occasional Tigers home ground game at Leichhardt Oval.

He occasionally heads East towards Chinatown for lunch, or to catch a connecting train from Central station.

Marzella told City Hub, “I have been inconvenienced by the changes since the trams have stopped. The replacement bus is horrible. Rather than 100% replacing the tram stops, we have several buses for various sectors or parts of the tram line.

“Last Friday night was horrible weather, and I was at the ICC in Darling Harbour for an exhibition and it was raining. I chose to take the tram replacement bus rather than walk. I ended up waiting over 40 minutes for the bus to arrive in windy, wet weather.

“On arrival, I discovered that the bus would only go as far as the Star. […] I was told that I needed to get off at The Star and wait for another bus that would complete the connection between The Star and Dulwich Hill tram stops.

“I thought about poor older people or disabled people and what they would have to endure in the same situation,” he said.

Teraesa, a Pyrmont local, frequently used the inner west Light Rail on weekends and in the evenings, generally from John St Square to Central to catch a connecting train to visit friends and family.

She often caught it from Paddy’s Market to John St Square after fruit and veg shopping, or after dinner in Chinatown. She sometimes caught it from the Fish Markets to Jubilee Park and back to visit Tramsheds.

She told City Hub, “I have been inconvenienced, as the trip to Central takes so much longer than it did previously. Now I either get out at Paddy’s Market and walk to Central or catch the 501 bus to Central. The bus stop at Paddy’s Market is a bit further to walk from the markets with bags of shopping after dinner.

“I haven’t tried going to Jubilee Park but I’m sure it will take longer than the Light Rail due to traffic. The replacement bus service is unpredictable, so I have to allow plenty of time to get anywhere now,” she said.

Dormant depot

Jo Haylen, Shadow Minister for Transport said at a doorstop at Arlington Light Rail this morning, Dec 1, “it’s over a month now since the government was forced to shut down the inner west Light Rail, forcing thousands of passengers on to slower replacement buses.

“That means that people have been stranded, forced to get on a bus, forced to get in a car to get to work and get to school, and it’s businesses like Messi’s that have suffered because of the Light Rail fail,” she said.

Small business owner Messi Sahow’s seven month old Café Calibre relies on foot traffic going to and from Arlington. Turnover has been impacted since the closures by 30 – 40%.

Haylen said the government should fairly compensate Messi, “a local business that is doing the right thing but shouldn’t suffer because of this government’s transport failures.”

Messi said, “for a small business like us, that’s big money that we’re losing every day, and we just want some answers from the government.

“Is it going to be 18 months? Is it going to be 3 months? Is it going to be 6 months? I just want some answers and some sort of help so we can survive through,” Messi said.

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns said, “you look at Messi’s story and the circumstances of him opening a business within his community, taking a risk, borrowing capital, opening in the midst of a pandemic, employing local people.

“He’s been comprehensively let down by his own government. We need answers in relation to this inner west Light Rail. When will it be operational? When will the trams be fixed?

“When will commuters come back to the inner west line, so that this key and important transport piece of infrastructure is up and running in our busy metropolitan City.”

Tommaso Marzella told City Hub, “how on earth did we reach this situation where we had to remove all trams because they had cracks?

“It all seems very fishy and very unprofessional to me and there has been really no clear explanation that I have seen on this topic. It seems to have slipped under the carpet.

“[…] In today’s Sydney, this is totally unacceptable.”

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