Media release: NSW Govt set to axe bus services in attempt to force commuters onto fledgling light rail
2 March 2020: The NSW Government looks set to slash bus services in Sydney’s east in an attempt to force commuters onto its fledgling light rail system, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW said today.
The call comes after revelations that a report by Transport for NSW has suggested 16 routes to be axed, replaced by 4 new services that would take commuters from Coogee, Maroubra and the city’s South to Randwick’s light rail, in a bid to reduce peak time bus services to the CBD and “remove duplications” in transport services.
Tram and Bus Division Secretary, David Babineau, said the move to axe eastern suburbs bus routes was not unexpected, given the government’s poor handling of the light rail project and its desire to package the bus service up for sale to the private sector, but is certainly far too early and will inevitably result in passengers being left inconvenienced.
“This is yet another disgraceful, yet unfortunately predictable, attack on commuters by this NSW Government,” Mr Babineau said.
“It’s clear that what’s happened is that the NSW Government has realised that it needs to drive people onto the light rail in order to justify the exorbitant amount of money it has blown on the project, and it doesn’t seem to care about the inconvenience that will cause for commuters.”
Mr Babineau said that while some of the planned changes might make sense on face value – like removing a doubling up of services along certain stretches – the move to force eastern suburbs commuters onto a light rail that has so far failed to prove its worth is irresponsible and is coming far too soon.
“It’s far too soon to even be thinking about doing this. No one yet has a full picture of how the system is going to operate. The NSW Government did this with the Metro in the North West – they axed services far too quickly and people were left stranded. It seems they haven’t learnt from their mistakes at all.
“This is yet another slap in the face for eastern suburbs commuters who have already had to endure the long and costly process of construction of the light rail tracks and have the fear of bus privatisation hanging over their heads,” Mr Babineau said.
“Now they’re being forced onto a light rail service that is significantly slower than the current bus services.
“There’s no doubt that eventually the running time on the light rail will be forced down, but at what cost? Our light rail drivers have been very vocal about the risks to worker and public safety if the process is not handled properly.
“This government should be focused on improving our public transport systems from a safety and accessibility perspective, but instead it seems more worried about privatising our buses and forcing commuters to use its shiny new toys in order to justify their existence.
“Any increase in public transport services is good, but this light rail has been a disaster from the very beginning, and it can all be attributed to the Berejiklian Government’s inability to manage our transport projects properly. The timeline blew out, the budget blew out by millions, and now in order to protect itself from the PR blow-back of having empty carriages travelling up and down the streets, it’s going to inconvenience passengers in order to force them to use it.”