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Inner city, government buses not good enough - SSH June 2006

A number of inner city bus services linking South Sydney to the CBD and beyond are consistently overcrowded and unreliable, leaving commuters stranded with no transportation reports Todd Dagwell in South Sydney Herald June 2006.

Local member for Heffron, Kristina Keneally, says there has been an explosion of residual dwellings in Sydney’s south-west and the State Transit Authority must meet the demand for public transportation.

“The STA needs to cater more for those people working daily in the city, starting early every morning. The 301, 370 and 343 could all be greatly improved,” says Keneally.

The 308 service travelling from Marrickville Metro shopping complex to Circular Quay, is the only option residents of the area have to reach the city or nearby suburbs via public transport. Local resident, Alana Murphy, says the 308 is never on time, is always overcrowded and runs far too infrequently to meet the needs of people in the area. “On peak hour services, the bus becomes full almost at the start of the route and passengers further along are left behind because the driver can’t fit them in. Cabs are the only alternative - which many people can’t afford,” Murphy says.

Currently most of the services in Sydney’s south-west do not run after 7PM on weekdays and have a limited service on weekends or none at all. “On weekends there is one 308 bus an hour, which makes overcrowding even worse than it is on weekdays. If the bus service is made more reliable, people will use it,” Murphy said.

The 352 Marrickville to Bondi run is a very popular service and one of the only buses to run the full length of Cleveland St and to surrounding suburbs without travelling through the congested CBD. Newtown resident, Paula O’Sullivan, says the service has been successful but it can be improved so that it benefits the entire community. “The issue is not overcrowding but the frequency of the service that is available. Currently the service on weeknights ends fairly early and on weekends there is no service available at all,” says O’Sullivan.

Jill Lay, ALP Secretary for Newtown, has begun a petition to bring about changes to the 352 in order to make the service more practical and assist people who work outside of traditional office hours. “We are seeking the start of a service on weekends and extended running times on weeknights. Support for these changes has been very strong within the community,” Lay said.

The petition will be finalised in the next four weeks and than presented to Carmel Tebbut.

A petition is also being prepared to improve the 311 bus service from Elizabeth Bay to Eddy Avenue.

Greens Councillor Chris Harris says the reduction of the 311 service is discouraging people from using public transport and congesting the inner city with traffic and pollution.

“We want Sydney to promote the use of public transport and make the bus service reliable for people to use regularly,” Harris said.

Originally the 311 was a half hour service but it has since been downgraded to a 45 minute service which no doubt had an affect on the number of people choosing to use the bus. “If you want people to use the bus you do not reduce the service - it is that simple”, Harris said.

Media Officer for State Transit Authority Tony Melham is unavailable for comment at the present