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Eastern Suburbs rally against bus cuts and privatisation

Residents across the eastern suburbs are concerned about bus privatisation. Photo: Supplied.

By PATRICK MCKENZIE

Randwick and Waverley Councils have consolidated their push against the planned privatisation of various eastern suburbs bus routes ahead of the end of a parliamentary inquiry submission period. 

The inquiry, which will investigate the modelling, rationale and process of privatising bus services alongside its economic, social, safety, employment and environmental implications and impact on worker pay and conditions, has seen the two councils come out in strong opposition of the plans. 

Both have launched community campaigns against privatisation and passed motions at recent council meetings that encourage residents to make written submissions to the inquiry.

The NSW government first announced the planned privatisation of remaining Sydney bus routes in October 2019, with those in region nine – which covers the Port Botany, Randwick and Waverley depots – to take place from April 2022.

Randwick councillor calls privatisation plans ‘unacceptable’

In May 2021, then NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced the additional removal of 25 bus routes and route modifications to a further 23 in an apparent effort to funnel commuters to the CBD light rail.

Randwick Greens councillor Philipa Veitch has said that the plans are “​​unsustainable and against the public interest”. 

Randwick councillor Philipa Veitch. Photo: Greens on Council.

Speaking to City Hub following her successful motion at Tuesday’s council meeting, which called on the state government to retain public ownership and reinstate all modified and cancelled region nine bus routes, Cr Veitch said that the changes have caused residents to lose direct routes to workplaces and experience “increased waiting times”. 

“Some routes that were previously covered by a single bus service now require one or more changes. Some buses that previously went all the way to Circular Quay now terminate at Central. This has increased commute times by up to 20-30 minutes in some cases and can involve a walk from a bus to a tram terminus,” Cr Veitch said.

“A number of residents have told me that the 10-minute estimated walk time to new bus stops is actually much longer, with seniors having to walk 20-30 minutes in some cases. This is just unacceptable.”

The motion also called on the NSW government to investigate and fund options for local councils to implement sustainable public transport options.

Cr Veitch said that the area needs a “broad-ranging, frequent and affordable public transport service that caters for all in our community”. 

“A well-functioning public transport service, as well as cycle paths and cycle-friendly streets and roads are just the bare minimum needed to reduce our dependence on cars and make our suburbs more liveable for all,” she said.

Save Our Buses campaign in Waverley 

Waverley Council continued its ‘Save Our Buses’ campaign during a mayoral minute at a council meeting on March 15.

The minute noted Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos’ strong objection to privatisation and establishes a range of channels by which to receive any complaints about potential drops in the service quality and delivery of timely bus services.

As in Randwick, councillors have encouraged residents to make submissions to the inquiry before the period closes on March 31.

“Waverley Council opposes any further removal of bus services in the region including the emptying out of the Waverley Bus Depot,” Cr Masselos said.

“We do not agree with the state government that passengers will be better off through bus privatisation and you only need to look at regions such as in the Hunter where privatisation has not worked.”

Privatised services in region nine, which are to be operated by new joint venture Transdev John Holland, will commence from April 3.

The parliamentary committee is due to report back on its findings from the inquiry by October 1.

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