Stop Unfair Changes to PRIVATISED Newcastle Bus Routes

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The Government Bus Service in Newcastle has been privatised and many changes have been implemented recently that are unfair and disadvantage many people. 

Newcastle Transport introduced new bus routes and timetables that came into effect on 14th January. These changes significantly disadvantage anybody travelling from anywhere south of Belmont especially. 

Mr Constance (NSW Minister for Transport) and Mr Dunlop (General Manager Keolis Downer/Newcastle Buses) we request that you please order a full review of the bus routes and timetables to achieve the objectives advertised by Newcastle Buses.

New route 29 replaces the 350

The new bus route 29 from Swansea Heads to Glendale via Cardiff Railway Station replaced route 350 that provided a direct route to the major centres of Belmont, Charlestown, Adamstown, Broadmeadow, Hamilton and Newcastle West however these centres are more than 9km east of Cardiff and Glendale.

·      The new 29 route travels the current route to Belmont then turns left towards Cardiff and Glendale via a “scenic” route through the streets of Eleebana - way across the western side of Lake Macquarie, nowhere near the major centres the 350 route took passengers,

·      To get to Charlestown, Adamstown and Newcastle East/CBD passengers now need to change at Belmont to the 14 bus,

·      Then if they want to go to Broadmeadow, Hamilton or Newcastle West they need change again at Charlestown for the 28 bus to Adamstown, Broadmeadow Station, Hamilton, Newcastle West and the new Transport interchange at Wickham,

·      To go further towards the new Newcastle Harbour restaurant and entertainment precinct, CBD and beaches they need to change again to another bus and in 12months the tram/light rail. 

New route 45 replaced the 349

The new bus route 45 from Swansea South replaced route 349 that was a direct route to Belmont, Charlestown, Newcastle West and the Newcastle CBD. The new 45 route terminates at Belmont where passengers need to change to the 14 bus and change again to the 28 bus similar to the scenario discussed above.

The 352 is cancelled – replaced by the new 29 route to Cardiff to give us the benefit (tongue in cheek) of accessing all of the Newcastle – Sydney trains, however this route extends the round trip to Sydney by 1 hour at least. Besides who wants to travel to Sydney in the middle of the day?

Some of the impacts:

·      To go to Charlestown passengers need to take 2 buses,

·      To go to the medical specialists at Broadmeadow and Hamilton passengers need to take 3 buses,

·      Passengers need to take 3 buses to go to the:

            - Newcastle Entertainment Centre,

            - Newcastle Stadium,

            - Honeysuckle Entertainment Restaurant Precinct,

            - Newcastle Transport Interchange at Wickham,  

·       Children, the aged and disabled will experience difficulty negotiating the multiple bus changes and the multiple options offered by the trip planner app, that’ll own the alternative 5 timetables people will need to carry,

·       Trip times increase between 30minutes and 2hours each way,

·       Total time waiting for bus connections can be up to 60minutes,

·       Some of the timetabled connections are zero minutes this allows no margin for any delay what so ever, there have been a number of cases reported that the passengers have seen their connection driving off into the distance as they arrive at the connection stop,

·       Some people who have had a few too many drinks will run the RBT gauntlet rather than having to negotiate 3 bus trips or bus/tram/bus or train/bus from the entertainment venues in town,

Bus services from locations south of Belmont have been reduced by 24 despite the advertisements stating that there will be more services and better connections.

Consultation

It is reported that there was a consultation forum set up to workshop the proposed changes and discuss what people wanted as part of the “Voice of Newcastle Programme. However, it is reported that participants had to sign a confidentiality agreement, it is hard to fathom why that would have been necessary if there was nothing to hide. It is also hard to understand why those consulted would have wanted the bus from Swansea Heads/Caves Beach:

·      to have Cardiff and Glendale as their preferred destination rather than Charlestown, Broadmeadow, Hamilton, Newcastle;

·      to have to change buses twice to get to Charlestown,

·      to have to change buses three times to get to Broadmeadow, Hamilton and Newcastle,

·      to have to wait for up to 60minutes for their connections,

·      to increase their travel times by up to 2hours;

Feedback has been provided to Newcastle Transport via their website and via the Transport for NSW website an example of standard response is provided below:

“Thank you for your message and feedback. We have worked to optimise the network to better meet the needs of our customers using an evidence-based approach based on Opal data, staff knowledge and community consultation as part of the Voice of Newcastle program. Our objective is to increase public transport usage across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. Were committed to delivering the best possible service for customers and we will be monitoring the network closely as customers adjust to the new network to see what is working and if any changes need to be made.”

It is suggested that in many cases the new bus routes and timetables have been a complete fail in achieving the objectives stated in their response above, especially for the areas south of Belmont.

Petition

Mr Constance (NSW Minister for Transport) and Mr Dunlop (General Manager Keolis Downer, Hunter/Newcastle Buses) we request that you please order a full review of the bus routes and timetables to achieve the objectives advertised by Newcastle Buses i.e.

1.   Optimise the network to better meet the needs of customers,

2.   Deliver the best possible service for customers,

3.   Increase public transport usage across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie,

These objectives can be achieved by:

1.   Providing more direct bus routes to key centres that residents need to get to,

2.   Reducing travel times,

3.   Reducing or better eliminating bus/train interchange wait times.



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