News

Byron is in the public transport wilderness

BYRON Shire Council says residents battling illnesses are often left waiting hours for treatment due to poor public transport in Byron and surrounding shires.

It hopes other local councils, such as Richmond Valley, will join it in raising the issue of meagre public transport in regional areas at the Local Government New South Wales Conference in October.

Councillors Duncan Dey and Diane Woods initially raised the issue at the council's extraordinary meeting on June 26 by way of a Notice of Motion, which was carried and endorsed.

"I know a number of people who have needed medical appointments or treatment for things such as cancer and they had to wait hours for buses if they don't have someone who can get them there," Cr Woods said.

Cr Dey agreed, saying the current limited services hinder people attending work or training, tourists attempting to explore the Northern Rivers and residents attending to basic needs, such as shopping.

"One of the biggest issues is that there's no after-dark public transport," Cr Dey, a member of the shire's Liquor Accord and Transport Advisory Committee, said.

"It feeds into our alcohol and violence issue."

Both councillors are sick of seeing metropolitan public transport bolstered, while the Northern Rivers and other regions miss out.

"If the state can fund $80 million for a rail trail I'd love to see what else could be funded with that," Cr Dey said.

He said tourism numbers are strong and drawcards, such as the rail trail, are pointless when visitors can't travel to attractions.

Cr Woods said Byron buses often operate with few passengers, perhaps because current timetables and routes do not meet passengers' needs.

However, despite an apparent lack of passengers, Byron bus companies have received an undisclosed amount in subsidies with little consultation, according to Cr Woods.

Topics:  byron shire council, public transport



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