Not all commuters happy with proposed changes to Northern Beaches bus routes

 

Source: Manly Daily

Fight to save buses 189X and 171X, as commuters up and down beaches slam bus changes

One commuter says he will have to travel 40 minutes in the wrong direction in order to get to the city when new bus services are brought in. The plans have sparked many peninsula commuters to campaign against the changes.

B-Line services will be extended, while other bus routes will close. Picture: Adam Yip / Manly Daily B-Line services will be extended, while other bus routes will close. Picture: Adam Yip / Manly Daily

 

 

An overhaul of bus services on the northern beaches will result in the farcical situation of some commuters in Pittwater having to go an extra 40 minutes in the wrong direction in order to get to the city.

While at the other end of the peninsula, the slashing of other direct bus services will see commuters having to transfer at newly designated transport hubs such as Seaforth.

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan said the changes announced last week included “brilliant” news in regards to the East-West rapid bus service from Dee Why to Chatswood and the extension of the B-Line services.

But those improvements “should not come at the expense of other popular routes or make it harder to get around”.

Cr Sarah Grattan and Mayor Michael Regan are concerned about some bus changes.

Cr Sarah Grattan and Mayor Michael Regan are concerned about some bus changes.

One impacted commuter John Brondum, 49, has used the 189X (E89) express city bus from Bilgola Plateau to Wynyard for the last 15 years, with the journey taking around an hour each way.

The proposed alternative will see him travel 40 minutes north on the 191 “around the houses” to Avalon before having to change to the 190X express to the city.

He reckons the changes could see his journey take up to two hours each way.

“If it is discontinued the only workable solution would be to buy a car and drive to Mona Vale or Warriewood and park adding to the traffic and parking nightmares, or move house,” he said.

Commuter John Brondum, 49, has used the 189X (E89) express city bus from Bilgola Plateau to Wynyard for the last 15 years. He has launched a petition to save it. Picture: Supplied.

Commuter John Brondum, 49, has used the 189X (E89) express city bus from Bilgola Plateau to Wynyard for the last 15 years. He has launched a petition to save it. Picture: Supplied.

He said he was concerned that the cutting of the service was based on data compiled before and after COVID, which would have skewed the results.

He said he used to commute to his job as a technology strategist at the Australian Stock Exchange five days a week, but is currently working from home, although he expects to be required back in the city again from early next year.

“Prior to Covid, the 189X was half to two thirds full by the time it left the plateau in the morning, and by the end of Newport, standing room only,” Mr Brondum said.

“Often, it was impossible to get a seat on the return journey from Wynyard.”

He said the bus was also popular with university students, schoolchildren looking to connect with school buses to Oxford Falls Grammar School, Northern Beaches Christian School and Pymble Ladies College, as well as people going to Manly, or those changing at Neutral Bay for North Sydney.

Commuters are vowing to get in their cars if some direct bus services are cancelled, adding to the already heavily congested roads. (AAP Image / Julian Andrews)

Commuters are vowing to get in their cars if some direct bus services are cancelled, adding to the already heavily congested roads. (AAP Image / Julian Andrews)

Mr Brondum and his wife Cerian have set up a petition to save the 189X service which has already got more than 300 signatures.

Chantelle Harrison, one of those who signed the petition, said she has lived in Bilgola for 26 years.

“This route is a game changer for city workers or students going to non local schools,” she wrote.

“Losing this would drop property prices and change our community as many will be forced out.”

Mr Brondum said he had contacted his local member’s off MP Rob Stokes to complain.

Meanwhile, residents in Balgowlah Heights are also upset at the removal of the 171/171X direct city service.

Cr Sarah Grattan put out a survey on a Facebook group which has received more than 260 responses so far.

She said many people are upset at the proposal, with 30 per cent saying the changes would force them to use their cars instead.

“That's’s a huge jump in car usage” Cr Grattan said.

“There has been this, ‘Hooray, great news for those wanting to go from Dee Why to Chatswood’, but they also slipped these changes in at the same time without any consultation.”

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes will pass on concerns to NSW Transport. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes will pass on concerns to NSW Transport. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone

In a Notice of Motion to Northern Beaches Council, Cr Grattan suggested the council write to the NSW Minister of Transport, Andrew Constance and Manly MP James Griffin requesting the reinstatement of the 171X direct bus route to and from the city for the residents of Balgowlah Heights and Clontarf in the AM and PM peak hours, as well as details and funding for what appears to be the new Seaforth interchange hub.

Pittwater MP Rob Stokes said he would be raising concerns about the 189X to NSW Transport.

His spokesman said the decision was made on a breakdown of Opal data for each of the four morning and four afternoon 189X services for the (averages for March 2019 and August 2020) for how many passengers board each service on the Clareville/Bilgola loop and continue all the way to city.

In March 2019 it averaged 22 passengers per weekday (approx. 5.56 passengers per bus), and in August 2020 it averaged seven passengers per weekday (approx. 1.80 passengers per bus).

However, Mr Brondum said many used the 189X to transfer to North Sydney or other areas.

Mr Regan told the Manly Daily he trusted the NSW Government will consult with affected residents over bus changes.


 

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