Residents of Church Street in Newcastle have slammed Keolis Downer’s decision to position a bus layover site outside their homes, saying they are being kept awake and dealing with noise and air pollution.
The Newcastle Transport operator began parking buses on the street across from Newcastle police station before the Newcastle 500.
The move was pitched to and rubber stamped by the Newcastle City Traffic Committee in November, and came after Hunter & Central Coast Development Corporation instructed bus companies to cease use of the layover site next to The Station, which it is taking possession of for remediation work.
But Church Street residents, who lost on-street parking outside their homes for the establishment of the bus zone, have had enough.
Retirees Roger and Keran Davis, who live in one of the street’s heritage-listed terraces, said they no longer open windows at the front of their 1891-built home due to fumes and noise.
“It’s been horrific,” Mrs Davis said.
“I had no idea it would impact quite so badly, it’s a continuous stream of buses.
“They operate throughout the night on Friday and Saturday… and every other night they finish at 11 or 12, and they start at five [AM].”
Residents were given a warning letter a week before the change but say there was no prior consultation.
John Pasterfield, who also lives in a terrace, said his house “shakes” when buses arrive or depart and he has had to wash his property down from fumes.
“You’re three and a half metres from the buses,” he said.
“The noise goes on and on.
“The concern is if it’s going to be permanent.”
Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp, who did not support the plan when it was first pitched at a September NCTC meeting and later requested layovers in front of non-residential buildings on Watt Street, says a more appropriate site would be beside James Fletcher Hospital.
Keolis Downer did not explain why that was not possible in its response to the Newcastle Herald, but said the layover site was moved to “better integrate with light rail and to enable future public access to The Station precinct”.
“The Church Street layover site represents the most viable location available at this time, limiting the overall number of bus movements in the city,” KD’s corporate affairs director Andrew Fletcher said.
“Keolis Downer has consulted with residents on Church Street and implemented measures such as switching off bus engines and lights to reduce disruption.”
As part of the layover change, buses 11, 13 and 14 no longer stop at Customs House.
They stop on King Street at Bolton Street, or on Bolton Street.
But as of late last week, Customs House was still listed as a stop for the routes.
Keolis Downer has contractual KPIs requiring it to ensure notification of route changes and accurate timetable information is displayed.
Transport for NSW recently issued the company with a directive to update customer information, and on Monday, Keolis Downer workers installed signs to notify commuters of the change – three weeks after Supercars.
Mr Crakanthorp said he had written to NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance on Tuesday asking him to consider allowing buses to layover next to The Station until February.
“With 500 bus movements between 7am and 7pm this street has basically become a bus depot,” he said.
“The Minister must intervene and allow some common sense to prevail with the continued use of The Station layover until alternative locations can be considered.”
HCCDC chief executive Michael Cassel said the land next to The Station requires remediation.
“The former bus layover site at Newcastle Station is contaminated due to its previous uses and will need remediation,” he said.
“Early next year, HCCDC is planning to undertake investigative works to better understand the type and extent of contamination, which will then inform a detailed remediation strategy.
“This is an important step towards repurposing the site for future uses that align with the heritage management plan for the whole Newcastle Station precinct.”