The Northern Rivers Buslines bus that has been adorned with Aboriginal artwork by North Coast Institute of TAFE students.
The Northern Rivers Buslines bus that has been adorned with Aboriginal artwork by North Coast Institute of TAFE students. Cathy Adams

Why we require more buses, cheaper fares on Northern Rivers

PUBLIC transport is a complicated business, but one thing that's obvious is that the Northern Rivers needs more frequent bus services that aren't so prohibitively expensive.

One of the most detailed local public transport surveys ever carried out in the region last year revealed 50% of users couldn't make trips they wanted to.

>>Lismore to Goonellabah in three hours - call that transport?

Disturbingly, 20% of those trips were for medical appointments.

The Sustain Northern Rivers Transport survey identified a serious lack of bus services on public holidays and weekends on some routes.

Would you use public transport if it was reliable, affordable, and timely?

This poll ended on 08 December 2014.

Current Results

Yes - all the time

44%

Yes - sometimes

43%

No

11%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

But while the survey highlighted service gaps, it also revealed widespread ignorance as to what services were available.

Northern Rivers Social Development Council chief executive Tony Davies said better information for the public would increase patronage of existing services.

"At the moment it's too hard to find where the transport goes and how to get on it," he said.

He called on the State Government to rollout a smartphone app already available in Sydney which allows users to input their location and desired destination and receive an immediate detailed route planner which even includes walking time.

KEY ROUTE PRIORITIES

  • Into Lismore especially from Nimbin, The Channon/Dunoon area, Casino, Ballina, and Evans Head/Woodburn, and Byron Bay/Bangalow.
  • Into Ballina, from Lismore, Alstonville, Lennox Head and Evans Head/Woodburn.
  • Into Casino from Urbenville and Woodenbong and Kyogle.
  • Into Byron Bay from Lismore and the Tweed.

Sydneysiders who aren't smartphone-savvy can also rely on a public transport hotline to tell them what they need to know.

Mr Davies said an equal priority should be to introduce "fare equity", for example to ensure a bus trips here cost the same as a similar trip in metropolitan areas.

Currently, catching a bus from Casino to Lismore costs about double what you would pay to go from Parramatta to downtown Sydney, despite being roughly the same time and distance.

What is your main barrier to using public transport?

This poll ended on 08 December 2014.

Current Results

It costs too much

13%

It doesn't go where I want to go

20%

It takes too long to get there

18%

What public transport?

46%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Thirdly, Mr Davies said the region needed to increase frequency on high-demand routes.

"You've got to get that information out there so people can use the service, and you've got to make it cost-effective," Mr Davies said.

The social development council has developed its own website, www.goingplaces.org.au, which helps plan bus routes within each local government area.

What is the best option to develop public transport on the Northern Rivers

This poll ended on 08 December 2014.

Current Results

Trains

13%

Light rail

8%

Electric buses

17%

A combination of all three

59%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.



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