Keolis Downer seeks new format for ‘full visibility’ Newcastle bus data

KEOLIS Downer says it is seeking to create “full visibility” around Newcastle bus and ferry usage with a bid to have broader patronage data reported, including backdated figures for the first half of 2018.

The company, which revealed data on Thursday that included non-Opal trips, says it is working with Transport for NSW to have that type of figure reported from here on out. It would also be uploaded retrospectively for the last five months.

The Newcastle Herald reported on Wednesday that year-on-year Opal data showed substantial drops in bus patronage, with seniors leading the way. 

Keolis Downer says its figures include Opal data as well as other types of travellers. The Newcastle Transport operator contends Opal data alone “does not give a true indication of the number of people catching the bus” due to exclusions including the fare-free zone, on-demand Lake Macquarie services and the stadium park-and-ride. 

“It’s important that the community has full visibility of how the transport network is performing,” Keolis Downer Hunter corporate affairs director Andrew Fletcher said. 

“The transport network is performing well overall and we’re seeing that with the overall growth in patronage and success of the key routes, however we will continue to make refinements as necessary.”

Mr Fletcher said the broader patronage figures showed use of public transport was evolving. 

“The great success story has been our on-demand bus service,” he said. 

The Keolis Downer data shows on-demand services rose from 232 trips in January to 1782 in May.

Overall adult trips were reported as higher in all recorded months, with 126,838 adult trips in May 2018 versus 115,956 in the same month last year.

The data showed pensioner trips were consistently down on 2017 figures from January to May this year.

“Ferry trips are also up by 27,000 on last year [to 219,579 this year], because people travelling from the north now have a better option for getting to the city, with increased frequency and the integration with bus services,” Mr Fletcher said.

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