I write to add my voice to those opposed to plans by Roads and Maritime Services to remove bus stops along key routes in the inner west.
The rationale of the Bus Priority Program is flawed: There are more equitable ways to improve bus efficiency than making buses harder to catch, particularly for vulnerable members of our community who depend on public transport.
It is clear that more must be done to improve efficiency on the bus system. The NSW Opposition has obtained the following data about passenger complaints for 2015-16:
- 412 Campsie: 375 complaints
- 423 Kingsgrove: 393 complaints
- 426 Dulwich Hill: 163 complaints
- 428 Canterbury: 258 complaints
Too many residents re being let down by broken down buses or by services that are frequently delayed or which do not come at all.
As I speak to residents about RMS’s plans, there is a clear consensus: Residents want to see a greater investment in the bus system, with more buses, better technology to inform passengers about route delays and a greater number of express services on key routes.
My key concern is that removing these stops will adversely impact elderly passengers, passengers with disability and parents and carers with prams.
Seniors rely on bus services to remain connected to their community and are often dependent on the fact they need not walk more than 400m to their nearest stop. This program will increase that distance to 800m in some instances, making bus stops virtually inaccessible to some older residents.
For residents with mobility impairment, the impacts are arguably worse, with a greater distance between stops being the difference between accessing a bus service or not.
The removal of stops near schools and child-care centres would make travelling by public transport more difficult, potentially increasing the number of families driving to and from school.
Concerns with proposals for the removal of specific stops:
Livingstone Road (Stop 21)
The stop is used by patients and residents accessing medical services at the Marrickville Health Service on Livingstone Road, as well as by parents accessing the adjacent day care centre.
Many patients using the medical centre face serious illness or mobility impairment and I am concerned that removing this stop will make it significantly harder for elderly, injured or ill residents.
Parents utilising the stop with prams will also be forced to negotiate traffic and walk further if this stop is removed.
Beauchamp Street (Stop 23)
This stop is used by students and families alighting for Marrickville West Public School and Connect Marrickville child-care and cultural services. Removing this stop will make it harder for parents to use public transport and I am concerned this will lead to a greater number of parents driving to and from school.
The removal of this stop will also require the removal of a new bus shelter that has only been recently erected by the Inner West Council. Residents are rightly frustrated at the waste of ratepayers money when infrastructure such as this is removed so shortly after being installed.
Wardell Road (Stop 24)
Residents have raised with me their concern that the removal of this stop will impact passengers trying to access the lower portion of the Dulwich Hill business district, including a newsagent, mechanic and cafes.
They note that this stop is the only covered stop in this area and that the next available stops are both exposed to the weather. Further that there has been significant development immediately adjacent to this stop with more apartments to come soon, adding to demand for this stop.
Marrickville Town Hall (Stops 80 & 81)
The removal of stops outside Marrickville Town Hall has been raised most frequently by alarmed residents. The stops are used by students and families from St Brigid’s, Casimir College and Marrickville High School; as well as by surrounding residents.
They are also used by elderly residents alighting to access the western end of the Marrickville Business District; as well as events at Marrickville Town Hall or the public library. They will also impact residents attempting to access Herb Greedy Hall or the Marrickville Road Church.
Residents attempting to access Marrickville Police Station will also be required to walk significantly further as a result of the changes. So too would residents accessing services at both State and Federal Members offices on Marrickville Rd.
The removal of these stops may increase the number of parents driving students to school, compounding the congestion that is already a problem in this section of Marrickville Road.
It may also adversely affect businesses in Marrickville and would likely make it more difficult for senior residents to access vital programs at the library or health service. The bus stop is also located near Family and Community Services seniors housing who rely on this bus stop.
Residents have noted that the next available stop heading into Marrickville from the west is outside the Royal Exchange Hotel, 450m further down the road. The removal of this stop will also require the removal of two new bus shelters that has only been recently erected by the Inner West Council.
Addison Road (Stop 82)
This stop is heavily utilised by neighbouring residents. Residents are concerned that the removal of this stop may cause additional congestion around the stop at the corner of Addison Road and Agar Street and around the Addison Road community Centre.
This is a complicated and dangerous intersection, particularly on weekends when the Sunday markets brings thousands of people to the area.
Residents also raised the possibility that the removal of the stop could be associated with plans for a bicycle route along the section of road. While they were supportive of the bicycle route, they were generally not supportive of the bus stop removal.
Dulwich Hill Business District (Stop 84)
This stop is located close to key services for vulnerable residents, including the Salvation Army, Father Dave’s Old School Boxing Academy, Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill, Dulwich High School of Visual Art and Design and the Emmanuel Tsardoulias Community Library.
I share residents’ concerns that the removal of this stop will adversely impact vulnerable people’s ability to access these services.
The number of residents living in this area is also increasingly exponentially as development is approved along New Canterbury Road.
New Canterbury Road (Stops 85 & 86)
These stops service the busy New Canterbury Road precinct of the Dulwich Hill Business District, which is in a process of revival, including the busy Dulwich Hill Karate Club.
The neighbourhood is seeing significant development, with the Government indicating it may inject hundreds more apartments in the blocks surrounding the stop as part of their Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor.
If the Government’s plans go ahead as planned, these stops will come under significantly increased pressure and usage as development increases.
Elderly residents frequent these stops and have expressed a strong desire for them to remain in place.
The removal of bus stops on key inner west routes will reduce accessibility to the bus network, particularly for vulnerable residents with disability, elderly residents and parents with prams.
I would particularly seek to preserve the existing arrangements for bus stops #80 and #81 adjacent to Marrickville Town Hall; Stop # 23 on Beauchamp St; and stops #84, #85 and #86.
The proposed removals of these stops will most adversely affect vulnerable residents and I ask you to preserve them so as to ensure our public transport system remains truly accessible.