Newly formed Facebook group calls for Premier to "step up and fix the mess" created by new bus timetables

OUTRAGE: A concerned resident in Wickham has called for a "return to the old bus routes immediately", while others have formed Facebook groups.
OUTRAGE: A concerned resident in Wickham has called for a "return to the old bus routes immediately", while others have formed Facebook groups.

Travelling from bus stop to bus stop was never perfect with the old system, but one concerned resident has said it’s a “complete failure now” and the old routes “must be restored”.

The city’s bus timetable was changed on January 14, after private transport operator Keolis Downer took over, and has since garnered community criticism.

A Wickham resident, who prefers not to be named, believes the best solution to the mounting outrage over the changed routes and times of the Newcastle bus system is a reversion “to the old system that was working well for years and years”.

There’s a lot that needs to be done, but an apology and reversal are the key ones, the resident said.

“There’s a lot of things that I want to say about the whole issue but all I can say that’s reasonable is we just need to hear an apology, instead of them sticking to their failings and digging themselves into deeper and deeper holes.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald responded to the network’s criticism, and believes the system showing signs of positive growth after just three weeks of operation.

“We have asked Newcastle Transport to listen to feedback, but do we really want to go back to the way things were where routes were almost empty for most of the day and long, lonely rides were common?” Mr MacDonald said.

“The new network is designed to increase patronage through the delivery of better connections, more frequent and direct services, and reliable timetables. Going back to the old days of long, meandering – and ultimately empty – journeys is not what people want.”

Bus routes have changed.

Bus routes have changed.

It’s not just through letters and phone calls that disgruntled residents are trying to enact change through however – a Facebook page titled ‘Fix Newcastle Buses’ was founded on February 8, and is calling for the removal of NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance.

The group, which gained 105 ‘likes’ in just 24 hours, has it’s aims emblazoned loud and clear as the description of their recently created Facebook page: “The privatisation of Newcastle Buses has been a disaster, leaving people stranded, late for work and frustrated.”

“People are forced to hop back in their cars because the promised ‘world class transport system’ is taking us backwards. The Premier needs to step up and fix the mess that the Transport Minister has allowed to occur.”

An organised community meeting will also be hosted by ‘Fix Newcastle Buses’ at Belmont 16s on February 19.