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Byron Shire
February 5, 2023

Follow the school buses

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In Byron Shire and beyond, we have a regular, convenient and reliable public transport system moving thousands of commuters through rapid connections and a rural on-demand pick up and set down at the front gate.

Anyone who has ridden the school bus system can’t help but marvel on how efficient and well operated it is. It gives every school child the opportunity to get to and from school in a reasonable time, even if it is in another shire.

Outside the twice daily movement of students, the system grinds to a halt. Drivers clock off, buses sit idle in the street and facilities go quiet. For everyone else there is no regular service.

Connections are poor. Significant service gaps exist between the north, south and rural areas. A lack of shelters, stops, and bus bays often makes any service in rural areas invisible. Bus stops for locals are removed from main streets making public transport choice less convenient.

Reliability is particularly bad. Timetable information is hard to find and often wrong. The ‘trip planner’ app is a major disrupter of travel plans. I have personally logged hundreds of instances of out-of-date information and unlisted ‘ghost’ services.

This approach to public transport is the marginal band-aid approach. And it’s a pretty scabby one at that. To bring our idle transport resources into a system that actually works for people requires political attention. Negotiating another band-aid through existing agencies will not heal the wound. Neither will good, but simple tonics such as switching to an E-Bus fleet.

The school bus system shows what can work. Let’s step forward with public transport as part of an integrated transport system, rather than as an isolated, marginal and disconnected system with little relevance to most people.

Our community has consistently told Council that public transport is a key issue. With this, Council has the authority to lead strongly with surrounding councils for reform and funding. With the political parties having gone to sleep on this issue, Council’s vocal leadership looks to be the best way forward.

Basil Cameron, Goonengerry


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2 COMMENTS

  1. school buses service a group of locals who are all going to the same departure location precisely and at the same time ie. school children.

    non-school children work all different locations, at different times in the modern economy, hence why people have cars so that they can go to their workplace (which might change on different days) at any time in the day, then run errands after or before.

    its no comparison, and failed logic that also applies to the local train network revival.

    IF there is really a case for more public bus and local train services on the old line, then where is the trip generation calculations to back this up? there are none, in other words this is not based on scientific logic but on fantasy land ideals. The trains closed down because of lack of numbers, it was not financially viable to continue.

    On a side note, we do need a fast speed train network connecting to south-east queensland down the highway corridor, on a new line, the old line is not suitable and should be converted into a rail trail. The evidence is all there to see but there’s some who are stuck in the past with these warm fuzzy feelings, and these people think they are ‘progressive’, I think they are the most conservative people in the shire who want to take us backwards.

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