Hunter MPs slam Andrew Constance for answer on Newcastle bus changes

Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp has outlined how changes to the city’s bus timetable have hurt disability workers, following NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance’s call that he was yet to see evidence of services being disrupted. 

Hunter MPs slammed Mr Constance on Wednesday after his response to Mr Crakanthorp’s questions about Newcastle’s bus network in parliament on Tuesday. 

Swansea MP Yasmin Catley and Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery both criticised Mr Constance’s response about how the problems on the network, implemented last month, would be fixed.

Mr Constance rejected the suggestion services for disabled bus users had been cut as “simply wrong” and asked for evidence to substantiate the claim.

“Given that that fleet operates under a franchise model, any suggestion that we are cutting services for people with disabilities is simply wrong,” he said. “If the member has evidence of it, I am happy to see it.

“If the member for Newcastle is alleging that people with disability have been affected, I am happy to look at that, but he has not raised that issue with me outside this chamber. I look forward to meeting with the member for Newcastle to hear his concerns.”

In a statement released to the Herald, Mr Crakanthorp detailed the bus timetable change’s effect on employees of Access Industries, a non-government organisation that employs 115 disabled people in Hamilton.

He says 100 employees have found it harder to get to work since the change and that Access Industries originally chose the Hamilton work site because of its proximity to public transport services. 

“These are the most vulnerable members of our community that the government are letting down,” Mr Crakanthorp said. “Keolis Downer promised a lot of these people that they would be there to help and it simply isn’t true.”

“A young woman from Access Industries was promised a guide from Keolis Downer to assist her the first two weeks of the new network. The guide turned up one day and then never returned.”

Mr Crakanthorp called for the government to admit the public transport privatisation had failed and for an urgent review into the network.

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