Keolis Downer's Newcastle bus network records passenger uptick despite timetable problems

DISGRUNTLED: A rally calling for changes has been planned for this Sunday after the community rejects bus network improvements.
DISGRUNTLED: A rally calling for changes has been planned for this Sunday after the community rejects bus network improvements.

KEOLIS Downer has conceded it has problems to fix on its Newcastle bus network despite an uptick in passengers during January. 

The Newcastle Transport operator on Tuesday released patronage data showing year-on-year numbers were up 4.9 per cent compared to January last year, with 319,360 passengers compared to 304, 330.

Hunter general manager Mark Dunlop said the uptick was “a strong endorsement of the new network design” and the company was committed to refining its system with community input. 

“While we are seeing customers flock to the key routes and locations, we know from the feedback there are some areas where improvements can be made,” he said. 

“Since 1 July we have received over 2,100 individual pieces of feedback, and in addition, we have analysed over 60,000 bus trips since the new network launched in January.”

“Our network planning team is reviewing all this data to understand what is working and where improvements need to be made.”

Improved services have been requested between Windale and Charlestown, Eleebana and Charlestown, north-eastern Lake Macquarie and Kotara as well as between Swansea, Charlestown and inner Newcastle. 

Mr Dunlop said drivers were passing on feedback and giving their own about “what is working out there and where improvements can be made operationally”.

“It is important to remember that this review period after such a large network overhaul is a normal process,” he said. 

“Over the coming months we are committed to making improvements based on customer feedback.”

“We have always said we are open to reviewing the network and over the 10-year contract, we will continue to consult with the community and review the network to ensure we are delivering a transport solution locals want.”

The passenger data comes a month after a fiery public meeting convened by Labor MPs and NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley.

A community rally calling for changes to the network was held last Sunday.