BY JOSHUA KINDL
Concerns are building among Eastern Suburbs resident as government plans to remove key bus stops along the 389 route from North Bondi to Pyrmont move forward.
This plan, designed to streamline the route and keep buses on time, would see 16 stops along the route removed, including some servicing local schools and aged care facilities.
Jane Anderson, Secretary of the East Sydney Neighbourhood Association, said these government plans would leave those most in need of public transport out to dry.
‘It’s a patently ridiculous statement to make that because the bus is running late, it needs to have fewer bus stops.
The timetable needs adjusting. There’s more and more traffic in Sydney, the route was changed [and] it was greatly lengthened… That needs to be taken into account.”
The proposed plan would see these stops removed as part of Transport for NSW’s ‘Sydney’s Bus Future’, which aims to improve several features of Sydney’s bus systems in order to better meet customer demands.
These stops include several in Darlinghurst, Paddington, Bondi Junction and Bellevue Hill, and controversially include a stop opposite Vincentian Aged Care, a prominent Eastern Suburbs aged care facility.
Following the plan’s announcement, Transport for NSW received close to 150 submissions on the project, from both individual residents and community organisations alike, many of which were in opposition.
Many pointed to the impact the proposed changes may have on residents of Vincentian Aged Care, which operates adjacent to the Stanley St stop, as well as schoolchildren attending Sydney Grammar.
Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, echoed these community sentiments and believes that making access to public transport increasingly difficult for residents that may rely on it is antithetical to the purpose of the service.
“This is an essential service that links elderly residents at Vincentian Aged Care in Darlinghurst with Woolworths near Town Hall and the shops at Bondi Junction.
“I don’t understand why the Government wants to make it harder for our elderly people and young students to access public transport,” she said.
Transport for NSW yielded on the original proposal to remove a bus stop at Yurong St, which also services the area, following the community consultation period in August, citing accessibility, safety and congestion concerns.
However, The Stanley Street stop is still set to be removed.
In its ‘Community Consultation Report’, Transport for NSW stated that the Stanley St. stop would be removed as “it is only 170 metres from the previous stop on Stanley Street, near Crown Street, and only 225 metres from the next stop on William Street, near College Street.”
Ms. Anderson says that these numbers can be deceiving without considering proper context.
“This might not seem [like] large distances for young, fit people, but, for older people, they are big distances and it’s restricting older people’s ability to make use of the public transport,” she said.
Member for Pyrmont, Alex Greenwich, said removing bus stops on the 389 route will not only lead to a lower quality of life for aged care residents but will hurt the city of Sydney as a whole.
“Some older and less mobile people will be pushed out of public transport and cut off from everyday life.
“Always giving priority to private vehicles leaves the city in gridlock and makes it hard for everyone to get around,” Mr Greenwich said.
Ms Moore disagrees with this assessment by RMS/Transport for NSW, stating that by removing these stops the bus route may indeed run on time, but only because fewer people will us it.
“The Government’s hospitals would also run more efficiently if they had no patients, but that’s not an argument to make hospitals harder to access,” she added.
Work on removing the stops is set to begin by the end of this year, with community action in opposition of the plan also starting to muster.
In light of this, Ms Anderson has a final suggestion for the government.
“Just don’t do it. Leave it as is.”
A spokesperson for Transport for NSW refused to comment.