Saturday, May 25, 2024

Waverley Mayor urges NSW Govt to take the wheel

Waverley Council has again called on the NSW Government to resume control of bus services in the state.

Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos, told a recent Upper House inquiry into bus privatisation that commuters are worse off under privatisation which was finalised in Region 9 (eastern suburbs) in April.

She said Region 9 has the highest patronage of any region in the Sydney bus network with 68 million trips, or 21% of the total 315 million trips across the network, each year.

“We strongly object to the public purse being used to subsidise commercial operations that are geared to making a profit rather than fulfilling a social contract between the government and the people of NSW,” Mayor Masselos told the inquiry.

“The public bus service was not broken – it is now. So please, bring back our buses into public hands.”

Waverley has been fighting to save its bus services since 2017 when routes began being cancelled or consolidated in preparation for privatisation, the Mayor said.

“I thought that is why we pay taxes – for the government to provide community services. Now that our services have been privatised, how many more bus routes will be cancelled because they have been deemed unprofitable? Where is the community guarantee of service?”

Mayor Masselos said the social contract and equity considerations provided by public transport were especially important.

“People used to be able to easily get to their medical appointments at the War Memorial Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital – but no more.”

“There is now no longer a direct service to the city with all services having to change at Bondi Junction Interchange, such as the 378 that went directly from Bronte Beach into the city – in spite of the then Liberal government promising to reinstate this service.

“The well-used 378 service was cancelled and replaced by the 440, and then the confusing 379, with people ending up at Bondi when they really wanted to travel to Bronte. The loss of the popular 400 now means there is no direct route to the airport,” the Mayor said.

She said Waverley Bus Depot and the Bondi Junction Interchange was the third busiest behind Sydney’s Central and Town Hall, with approximately three million commuters a year.

“Transport for NSW has admitted that there are now fewer buses housed at the Waverley bus depot in Bondi Junction. And there are serious concerns about the medium-term future of this essential piece of infrastructure. We have already fought off one attempt by the government to sell off this land.”

“Buses, the most flexible of public transport modes, ensure people can move around our LGA,” she said.

Council is also concerned about increased road congestion, especially on key local transport corridors such as Waverley’s Bondi Road and Old South Head Road.

“Traffic congestion continues to rise in Waverley as more and more multi-unit dwellings are built and summer temperatures increase,” she said.

“Public transport, therefore, is a major strategic transport mode to help take cars off the road and to help people get to where they need to go and to help us achieve a community greenhouse gas emission target of net zero by 2035.

“The government’s profit imperative has not been offset by the social, health and wellbeing benefits of keeping our bus services in public hands.”

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