Protest against new Newcastle and Lake Macquarie bus timetable at Gregson Park, Hamilton

By , 18/02/2019 16:13

A rally against the new Newcastle and Lake Macquarie bus timetable will be held on Sunday at Hamilton.The decision to send an‘out of service’ bus to taketwo passengers from Broadmeadow to Redhead was an“isolated” response,Newcastle’s public transportoperator Keolis Downer said ahead of a public rally against the region’s newtimetable this weekend.

The response came after Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison told NSW Parliament this week that an empty bus was sent to Broadmeadow on February 23 to take the passengers to their destination after they missed their connecting service.

Ms Harrison called on the government to reveal how often“public buses are being used as apersonal taxi due to missed connections”.

Read more:‘Constituents are angry’: Labor MPs hammer at government on buses

Fairfax Media received a shortstatement when Keolis Downer was asked about the issue this week.

“The use of a‘not in service’bus to transfer customers after a missed connection on 23 February was an isolated operational response to an isolated operational issue,” the company’sHunter general manager Mark Dunlop said.

Tension: Last month, the auditorium at Belmont 16 Footers was packed for a public meeting over concerns about the new Newcastle and Lake Macquarie bus timetable.

A public rally calling for Newcastle and Lake Macquarie’s new bus timetable to be scrapped will be held on Sunday morning.

The rally will start at Gregson Park, Hamilton, at 10.30am before a march to the Newcastle bus depot in Hamilton.

Read more:New bus timetable faces first test

The suburb is one of the focal points of criticism aboutthe new timetable, with business owners complaining that there is no longer a bus service that runs down Beaumont Street–one of the city’s busiest shopping and dining precincts.

Helen Necovski,store manager ofPiggott’s Pharmacy on Beaumont Street, said there had been adrop in customers since the new timetable was introduced.

Keolis Downer, the private operator of Newcastle buses, introduced a new timetable for Newcastle and Lake Macquarie in January.

MsNecovski, who catches the busbetween work and her Adamstown home each day, said the servicenow drops passengers at Tudor Street–a road that intersects Beaumont Street.

”I find there is hardly anyone on the bus, where before it used to take all these people down Beaumont Street,” she said.“[Some elderly bus patrons]can’t walk that far. The bus does drop them off at Tudor Street,but to get to my shop and to IGA, that’s three blocks down, where they could [formerly] get off at my block. I havea bus stop across the road.”

When asked about Keolis Downer’s recent data that showed an almost five per cent increase in patronage on some routes in January, 2018, compared with the previous year, Ms Necovski said:“it’s not in our area at all”.

Changes to thetimetable introduced in January have drawn community backlash, with a 10,000 signature petition calling for the change to be reversed sent to parliament and about 1000 people attending a public meeting in Belmont last month.

Related content:

Bus patronage up in January despite ‘teething problems’Live blog: Hunter bus timetable public meetingKeolis Downer releases new timetableDrivers cop abuse as tensions boil overProtest against bus timetable announced

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