Transport for NSW is reviewing a decision to increase peak services in narrow Balgowlah backstreets after video evidence emerged showing the buses in a veritable face off, unable to pass eachother.
As part of a major overhaul of bus routes in Balgowlah – many also affecting school routes – a new route called the 172X was introduced to North Balgowlah to provide all-day connections to the CBD and back seven days a week.
The issue, points out resident and local mum Nicole Marusic, is there are now so many services in the narrow Urunga and Taree Streets that buses from opposite directions essentially have to “face off”.
“Transport has cut many existing services across North Balgowlah/Seaforth and replaced with a new route through narrow residential roads and the buses can’t safely get through. Cars are being swiped and buses are having to reverse up hills trying to navigate the situation. Two children on bikes were at risk of being hit by the buses reversing,” she said.
Manly MP James Griffin visited residents yesterday morning to witness the issues during peak hour firsthand. After his visit he told us, “Clearly this is not working as intended and is another issue I’m raising with the Transport Minister.”
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said buses already operated along these two streets, but they were now more frequent during 7am-9am and 5pm-7pm.
“These changes are not likely to impact local traffic conditions, as timetables have been designed to provide sufficient time for buses to safely travel these streets, as was the case under the previous services,” she said.
A comment that has appalled Ms Marusic.
“There is almost a 60 per cent increase in the bus services on this narrow street during peak times, including bendy buses, how does that not impact local traffic conditions?”
“Previous bus services included 50 local bus services on the street. This has increased to a high frequency bus service of 85 buses now including large bendy buses, all of which are during the peak hour and are creating a situation where two or three buses are trying to the navigate the corridor at the same time. Transport have removed buses from this perfectly appropriate route and replaced with one through the little community of children and families.”
The Transport spokesperson did confirm that a directive had come through from Transport Minister Andrew Constance asking them to review the operation of bus services in these streets because of the community feedback.
“Transport for NSW will be engaging with the local community on this review in the coming weeks,” she said.
Ms Marusic said there were many similar spots of concerns in the area that are affected by the changes, including a city bus now running through the residential area from 5.30am to midnight. “This is an area with no footpath, no street lights, and is totally inappropriate area for a high frequency city bus.”
Another resident along the route, Nilmini Panditharatne, said there was originally a “non-invasive local bus service that assisted residents to connect with the heavy bus services that travelled on appropriately large roads.
“These are residential streets where young families live, walk to and from schools, and the elderly presence is also high. The whole concept of safe residential living is at stake with an unthought-out bus service that is posing danger.”
James Griffin’s office confirmed the MP will also be reviewing the other danger pinch points in the area over the coming week ahead of a meeting of with Transport.