Newcastle bus petition bound for parliamentary debate on Thursday

A PETITION calling for Transport Minister Andrew Constance to improve Newcastle buses will be debated in Parliament on Thursday. 

Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp and Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery will debate the matter after delivering a 10,000-signature petition backing action on the transport network earlier this year. 

They argue the new bus timetable introduced in January has brought with it longer journeys, poor connectivity and less convenient services. 

“Today is a day that Novocastrians can see that by signing petitions and making a stand, they can make a difference,” Mr Crakanthorp said. 

In April Newcastle Transport operator Keolis Downer said it had planned changes for introduction in July, including direct services between Swansea Heads, Charlestown and Newcastle CBD.

Keolis Downer Hunter general manager Mark Dunlop said at the time the changes would be introduced after scheduling, timetabling and engagement with staff, the union and other stakeholders.

“While the network is performing well overall, we know there are some connections that aren’t working,” he said.

“The refinements we’re implementing will address the bulk of customer feedback received on the new network since it was launched three months ago, with improved connections for Swansea, Mount Hutton, and east Lake Macquarie.

Ms Hornery welcomed operator Keolis Downer’s commitment to review its network, but said the first 10 months of privatised public transport in the Hunter have been “a failure”. 

“Hundreds of people have warned that the new timetetable has forced them off the public transport network altogether,” she said. 

“They’re driving now, exacerbating the congestion crisis which can paralyse Newcastle roads at peak hour.”