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HomeNewsBalgowlah buses to change again; privatisation expected by October

Balgowlah buses to change again; privatisation expected by October

Balgowlah and Seaforth residents have until just next Friday, 14 May to have their say on further bus timetable changes affecting the area.

The new proposed timetable – available here – follows a review of major reform introduced in December which many residents claimed caused major disruption due to an increase of peak services in Balgowlah backstreets.

You can view our coverage of that issue here.

Summary of bus changes

The crux of the changes back in December was the introduction of a new route called the 172X for North Balgowlah to provide all-day connections to the CBD and back, seven days a week (and the removal of other services such as the 168X and 132, to name a few).

Following repeated community protests, particularly from residents of Urunga Street over safety and noise concerns, Transport conducted a review. They now propose to reduce the number of services going through the street by instead starting some peak services at Wakehurst Parkway. They also propose to minimise the use of bendy buses.

The proposed adjustments would retain the base route 172X as the primary bus route for the North Balgowlah and Seaforth area, but would reduce the number of 172X bus services operating via Urunga Street, and also reintroducing the previous 168X service to operate via Bangaroo Street and Brook Road during peak periods.

Changes ahead of bus privatisation

Manly Observer understands that the suite of changes affecting the Northern Beaches have been made ahead of a transition to privatise the local bus operations, one of the few remaining State Transit Authority operated regions in Sydney. Government documents show the transition to privatisation is flagged to begin this month (May 2021) and be complete in October. However, the government maintains it is “franchising” rather than “privatising” as it is only the operations that is contracted out. The buses and depots technically remain in public hands.

Residents in Balgowlah recently protested against a number of changes to bus routes and frequency in North Balgowlah.

Need a visual aid?

This is what the bus services looked like May 2020

A map showing the bus routes for Balgowlah and Seaforth areas as at May 2020

And this is what services looked like as at January 2021 (present proposed changes not included)

The new bus network servicing the lower Northern Beaches area, as at January 2021.

What Transport says

Transport for NSW has issued the following statement regarding the newly revised Balgowlah bus schedule:

“Transport for NSW is inviting feedback on proposed bus service adjustments in the North Balgowlah area, which respond to resident concerns over the number of 172X buses operating along Urunga Street, while at the same time ensuring local customers enjoy faster journeys to the city.

The proposed changes would result in a maximum of five buses operating via the Urunga Street area (comprising services in both directions) in the busiest hour of both the morning and afternoon peak periods, which is a substantial reduction from the current timetable.

To help achieve this reduction, two 172X services to the city during the busiest part of the morning peak would commence from Wakehurst Parkway.

The previous 168X route would also be reintroduced during peak periods, operating via Bangaroo Street and Brook Road, further helping reduce the number of bus services operating through the Urunga Street area, while at the same time provide faster journeys for North Balgowlah customers.

Transport for NSW arrived at the proposed adjustments after meeting with local community representatives to discuss a number of potential options.

We believe the proposal gets the balance right, responding to community concerns, while also ensuring those customers who rely on the 172X as an option to get to the city, particularly in the morning peak. We also need to ensure we are providing enough capacity in the area for school student travel.”

Resident response

Key resident campaigner Nicole Marusic said after six months of campaigning the team of residents was disappointed with the “inadequate” solution proposed by Transport for NSW.

“TfNSW have now come up with their own inadequate solution that does not meet the needs of the entire community. There are still numerous safety and congestion issues with their proposal. Members of our community will still find it difficult to access adequate public transport.”

Ms Marusic said residents had not heard from Transport since March and the consultation process seemingly ended “without notice”.

Local councillor Sarah Grattan agreed the consultation had been inadequate and said Northern Beaches Council would be conducting its own safety review of the changes.

A Transport spokesperson however said the proposed “gets the balance right, delivering the best outcome for both customers and residents, however, we also want to ensure other customers and community members get to have their say.”

Manly MP James Griffin encouraged residents to provide their feedback and if residents were not happy he would continue to advocate on their behalf.

The link is here to provide feedback on the proposed changes.

You can also view Transport Minister Andrew Constance’s response to the issue here.

 

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

Kim Smee, Editor


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