Deputy Speaker, early this year the Tasmanian government-owned bus service Metro made a number of changes to its routes and schedules.
Now there is of course a need to review and improve bus routes and schedules. But these changes have been rolled out with little consultation or notice, and have had some disastrous effects in my electorate.
Indeed my office has heard complaint after complaint – more so in fact than any other local issue in my five and a half years as a Member of Parliament. And since I raised this issue in the media last week there have been many more complaints coming in – dozens overall.
Deputy Speaker I’ve heard from people whose regular bus routes have either been dramatically cut back, or no longer exist at all; people with mobility issues who are forced to walk kilometres, or up steep hills to get the bus; and people who can now no longer make it to work or appointments without spending a fortune on taxis.
Some examples, Deputy Speaker.
I’m told that the bus up St Canice Avenue in Sandy Bay, where there are three very large aged care facilities, now only operates 3 times a day so elderly people are often struggling up the very steep hill with their shopping.
Another example is that peak-hour buses from Kingston to Hobart have been dramatically scaled back, so they’re now incredibly overcrowded and I’m told that people are often left on the side of the road.
Another constituent tells me that express buses that once travelled from Lenah Valley to the city have become much less frequent, even though I’m told that they were always nearly full. No wonder this has caused tremendous difficulties for people travelling to the city or to Calvary Hospital.
And Deputy Speaker, these changes have been poorly communicated to passengers. A constituent tells me that her 6 and 7-year-old children got on their bus after school one day only to be dropped off in the Glenorchy bus mall, miles from their home, and left to fend for themselves. And countless more people have told me that they’ve been late for work or missed appointments because they were unaware of these changes.
Deputy Speaker, the State Government needs to step up here because if you take away what is often a person’s only means of transportation, it can have enormous detrimental impacts both socially and financially.
But Deputy Speaker all its done is to call critics of these changes sensationalist and to dismiss their concerns. This isn’t good enough. The Government needs to act and direct Metro to immediately reinstate lost services, and then to work with the community on any future changes.
Thank you Deputy Speaker.