Residents of Kings Cross, Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay, Rushcutters Bay and Woolloomooloo
Locals met with the Minister for Transport on 22 June 2009 regarding their concerns about the changes to the 311 bus service. Below is an account of the meeting.
The Minster for Transport the Hon. David Campbell met with a delegation from the 2011 Residents Group and the Darlinghurst Residents Action Group on Monday to discuss reinstating the 311 bus route. The Ithaca Road, Billyard and Onslow Avenue loop at Elizabeth Bay has been cut and the stop at Circular Quay moved to Gresham Street.
The Resident Groups have campaigned vigorously to have the cuts reversed. The meeting with the Minister gave the group the opportunity to point out that the State Transit Authority rationale for the cuts, that is that they are required by Legislation to introduce the longer buses with wheelchair access can be questioned.
The Minister stated that he was advised by the STA that the loop had been cut because the longer buses could not fit around it. It was pointed out that by cutting the loop the STA was in fact removing access that had existed for 80 years for all people who lived on the loop, including those with disabilities.
“17.2% of the population of Elizabeth Bay is over 65 years which is over double that of the rest of the City of Sydney. The area is one of the most densely populated in Sydney with the Ithaca, Billyard Avenue and Onslow loop alone servicing 1400 Units and approximately 2500 people. Many people have been isolated and are experiencing hardship as a result of the cuts. “The bus was a lifeline. Residents feel they are prisoners in their own homes. The walk up a steep hill to the new route is just not possible for many.”
Ms Jo Holder pointed out that to date no long buses are running on the amended route. “The shorter Mark 5 buses are still running on the route and these buses will be in service and available for the forseeable future during the period the long buses are phased in on routes where they are compatible. The STA can revert to the old route with the existing buses immediately, with no additional cost. ”
The delegation also pointed out that moving the stop from Circular Quay to Gresham St also presented real difficulties not only for elderly residents and young families of the Elizabeth Bay area, but for other users. The 311 is a popular bus with tourists, from the transport hub at the Quay to Woolloomooloo, Elizabeth Bay and Kings Cross.
The Gresham St stop is over 400 metres from the previous stop at the Quay and is poorly lit and the area is threatening to many people. It was pointed out that to prepare for the return journey which starts from the east side of Gresham, the driver “does the block” which involes driving up Bridge then down Young or Phillip to Alfred, then back up to Bridge St before turning left into Gresham. The bus could do a drop of stop only at the Quay, before the driver parked in Gresham for his rest period.
At the conclusion of the meeting the Minister agreed to meet again with STA representatives to take up the issues raised by the delegation.
Lee Rhiannon will attempt to bring on an urgent motion for a debate in the Legislative council on the 311 on today, Wednesday 24th, June.