On-demand commuter bus service stops abruptly

The Woy Woy bus-on-demand trial at Woy Woy stationThe Woy Woy bus-on-demand trial at Woy Woy station. Image CCN archive 2018

The on-demand commuter CoastConnect minibus service at Woy Woy has ended its 24-month trial, without announcement on Friday, May 29.

“There has been confusion and outrage that the Government would provide this service and then with no communication with the users simply cut it one Friday afternoon,” said Member for Gosford Ms Liesl Tesch.

Ms Tesch said the Government had not backed the program from the start and had failed to advertise the service and what it could mean for travellers.

 “Right from the start the government seemed unwilling to tell commuters how this service could improve their first and last mile journeys,” Ms Tesch said.

 “No more going around in circles looking for a park, no more trudging from the back of Deepwater Plaza to the station in the rain, no more unlit walks to the free parking behind the tennis courts.

 “This was a service that could pick you up from near your house and take you directly to the station to meet your usual train, but not enough people knew what the mini-bus at the end of the bus interchange was even about.

 “I wrote to the Minister on several occasions requesting material which I could use to go out and advertise this service and was rejected.

“I ended up making my own flyers and handing them out,  she said.

Requests to allow the use of Opal Cards were not taken up.

“Passengers had to use their credit cards, and the system was never integrated into the Opal Card network, which was just another barrier for potential riders.”

The service was started as a trial in 2018.

Transport New South Wales has said it would learn from this trial, as well as from several similar trials in other parts of the State, to improve public transport services.

Ms Tesch said: “I’ve spoken to users throughout the program length and know just how much many have come to rely on the service as a quick and easy way to save travel time, or reduce the burden on family members who would otherwise have to pick commuters up from the station early in the morning or during the dinner rush.”

She said, if the service was not to be continued, the funding should be directed to other local projects aimed at cutting the parking demand.

“It makes sense that this money should go to improving infrastructure that will encourage active transport options like cycling or walking to the station, or adding extra regular bus services to give people more options,” Ms Tesch said.

“The government has been spending this money on the Peninsula and it should stay on the Peninsula.”

SOURCE: Media Release, 28 May 2020, Liesl Tesch, Member for Gosford