THE future of the large bus layover area near Newcastle railway station is up in the air along with the rail corridor land itself, the government has confirmed.
And the city’s bus network, along with services across the region, are being reviewed, with no guarantees Newcastle’s fare-free zone will remain once light rail is operational.
A Transport for NSW spokeswoman said the future use of the bus layover adjacent to the station and opposite the foreshore‘‘will be considered as part of future planning for the revitalisation of the city centre’’.
The government recently announced those parts of the rail corridor that aren’t needed for light rail would be opened up for potential development, but has given an assurance that Newcastle City Council will have the final say on any new land uses.
UrbanGrowth is looking into proposals for the land, including the railway station building.
The government is believed to need an Act of Parliament before the land could be sold, but says ‘‘at this stage’’ it doesn’t believe one is needed for work to truncate the rail to begin.
Government bus provider Newcastle Buses is expected to get eight new buses to run the rail replacement bus services between Hamilton and Newcastle, after it won the tender contract.
Two more buses will be on standby to meet any extra demand.
Hunter Transport Improvement Association member Graham Boyd said Transport minister Gladys Berejiklian recently told the organisation the city’s bus network would be reviewed, after it voiced concerns about the service’s consistent loss of passengers.
The Transport for NSW spokeswoman said it was ‘‘currently reviewing bus services in the Lower Hunter to see where improvements can be made’’.
Transport for NSW is considering how buses will operate in Newcastle to complement the new light rail network in the future.
The Newcastle Herald has reported documents obtained under freedom of information laws showed the government is considering reducing city centre bus services to reduce a double-up with the light rail.