Newcastle Herald: Drivers cop abuse as tensions boil over with bus timetable overhaul
By Carrie Fellner
Tempers frayed on day one of the city’s bus timetable overhaul, with drivers subjected to widespread abuse and a brick hurled at a bus in Newcastle West.
The most serious incident took place on a bus outside Wests City on King Street, with reports a passenger became involved in an altercation with the driver, before getting off the bus and throwing a brick at it.
Keolis Downer confirmed an incident on a 110 bus occurred, but suggested it was unrelated to the timetable. A spokesperson said it had been reported to police.
“Safety of our drivers and the community is our highest priority,” she said. “Keolis Downer is not aware of any incidents from the rollout of the new network.”
But several people witnessed bus drivers being verbally accosted, including Vicki Warren, of Adamstown.
She tried to intervene when a fellow passenger began abusing a driver who had stopped to look at the timetable. “I said: ‘give the guy a chance’,” she said, adding that she thought the new timetable was going to be a good thing for the city.
A couple from Merewether, who did not want to be named, were less impressed.
They spoke to the Herald from a bus stop on Stewart Avenue, where they had been waiting half-an-hour for a service that was usually a five to 10 minute wait.
“It’s pretty ordinary,” the woman said. “We could have been home by now.”
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Shane Hattander, of Jesmond, found the rollout confusing and said more signage was needed.
“I was getting the bus from Adamstown and thought I had missed two buses but I hadn’t,” he said.
Jesmond woman Louise Parker described the changes as “half and half”.
“Instead of the bus dropping me at work, I have to walk for five minutes,” Ms Parker said.
“If it’s raining it’s a bit annoying, but I can still get to work, so it’s not too bad.”
Darren and Sarah Payne live in the Lower Hunter and said the service from Charlestown to the Wickham interchange was very convenient.