BY PAM WALKER
Double decker buses may help solve traffic congestion on Bondi Road during summer months, according to Waverley Mayor Ingrid Strewe.
‘I would be prepared to fund a trial of a double-decker bus express from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach,’ she said.
‘These are compact and can carry 180 people. Their wheel span is not much larger than a normal bus so it would actually take up less road than the bendy buses.’
The council is also examining alternative routes for the buses travelling along Bondi Road from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach. Councillor Strewe said the issue of Bondi Road congestion usually subsides during winter months, but returns in the peak summer period. Congestion is worst in the afternoons on holidays and weekends.
The State Transit Authority (STA) plan to introduce a bus lane on Bondi Road is on the backburner after last month’s February 27 forum, attended by representatives from the STA, the RTA, police and the council.
But many believe that unless a long-term solution is found, the idea will keep coming back.
For now, the threat to the business strip on Bondi Road has receded, and the mayor said more data was needed to decide the issue.
‘We need to survey people who go to the shops on Bondi Road and find out how they get there,’ she said. ‘That way we can judge how much business those shops would lose if the bus lane were introduced.’
Bondi Chamber of Commerce acting president Max Siano said the forum only reinforced the high level of local opposition to the bus lane.
‘It was a no-decision meeting where we all agreed to disagree,’ Mr Siano said. ‘The STA want a trial of the bus lane but we’ve already had a trial ‘ it was called the Olympic Games. The shops closed then for three weeks because business died while they had clearways on Bondi Road so there was no point in opening up. And trials usually end up being permanent. We made it clear on the night that if they force that on us we would explore the option of a class action.’
But Mr Siano supports the introduction of double decker buses. ‘That would be a major plus as bendy buses are cumbersome and long and double-decker buses carry more people,’ he said.
Labor councillor and chair of traffic committee John Wakefield said the root problem was too many cars and the ultimate solution must be regional.
‘Improved public transport to the eastern suburbs is the root solution. Unless we have some long-term vision on this, the issue will keep coming back. We need to start planning for the next generation of public transport,’ Cr Wakefield said.
The options would include double-decker buses but also light rail or the more expensive but more effective heavy rail to link Bondi with the rest of Sydney.