Linda Wirf and Kate Geary
Linda Wirf and Kate Geary

A dollar for every bus complaint and you could fix the train

AS THE transport development worker for Northern Rivers Social Development Council, Linda Wirf has heard it all when it comes to transport woes.

"We hold transport information days and a feature of those is always people talking about having no transport at all where they live, completely inappropriate times for the transport there is and that the cost is unaffordable if they don't have a concession," Ms Wirf said.

The best option for many people in getting from outlying areas into their nearest centre is to hop on a school bus. But these services usually only run during school terms.

"There are a few routes such as Nimbin where the school bus continues during school holidays where there are some workers using it, but there is no compulsion (on the bus companies) and it's fairly ad hoc," she said.

"But for lots of people in the Northern Rivers, the school bus is the only bus get them to their nearest centres and so they have to fit in to school times, which precludes using them for work or study or many of the other things that people might like to use public transport for."

Ms Wirf was recently involved with the social plan survey that found 50% of residents surveyed would like to take certain trips, but can't.

"We've also measured the levels of transport disadvantage and the main barriers to using public transport and we've got lots of good data. ... The main focus of which was to get that to Transport NSW to feed into the regional plan."

The NSW Transport Master Plan is the State Government's plan for transport, with a section that relates to the Northern Rivers. The first draft is expected to be completed soon.

Ms Wirf said there is also an inquiry into the Countrylink bus services and the report into the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line that found busses were the best way to address the region's public transport needs.

"If that's the process that's going to be taken, then it's worth noting how inadequate they (bus services) are," she said.

She said the one positive in the system is the Red Ticket that allows people with a pension concession or seniors card to travel anywhere in NSW for $2.50 a day.

"That's a great initiative and helps people a lot if there is a bus they can catch."

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