NSW report finds commuters left waiting at bus stops

A NSW Auditor-General’s report, released today, slated the State Transit Authority for leaving people standing at bus stops

NSW report finds commuters left waiting at bus stops
NSW report finds commuters left waiting

By David Goeldner | November 30, 2011

NSW Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat has recommended the State Transit Authority – operator of Sydney Buses – evaluates its bus services after finding 22 percent of commuters were left at bus stops in the past year.

"There are more buses and more services, but 22 per cent of passengers with key operators have been left standing at bus stops because buses are too full, did not stop or do not turn up," Achterstraat says.

Achterstraat tabled his 160 page report on Transport and Ports in NSW Parliament today, drawing on research conducted by the Independent Transport Safety and Reliability Regulator (ITSRR) which unearthed the previously unreported ‘bus stop’ statistic.

ITSRR surveyed 2,344 customers from the 15 bus contract regions across metropolitan Sydney, analysing five bus operators; Busways, Hillsbus, Sydney Buses (STA), Veolia and Westbus.

The report says that as STA operates the largest and busiest contract regions in Sydney, the proportion of Sydney Buses customers surveyed represented 60 per cent of the total population surveyed.

The ITSRR reported that crowding at peak commuting times was the aspect of service delivery with highest level of dissatisfaction in the survey.

It makes mention of 17 percent of passengers experiencing difficulties getting on and off buses, of which nine percent was due to overcrowding.

And there was the uncomfortable statistic of 22 percent of survey respondents attempting to travel between home and work left standing at bus stops.

Acherstraat’s report gives STA some space in reply, stating it has strict limits on the maximum capacity of passengers a bus can carry to ensure bus drivers can operate vehicles safely, and that it has introduced an additional 150 high capacity articulated buses into its fleet to increase passenger capacity.

STA say in the report it has introduced the Metrobus services, thereby increasing service availability, but there are high frequency services provided at peaks where customers may not be able to get on the first bus.

"As a result, customers’ wait times are minimised," STA claim in the Auditor-General’s report.

Achterstraat also noted the slowing of Sydney’s road travel speeds during morning peak periods.

He says road users in the Sydney morning peak period are taking longer to get to work, while the afternoon peak remains largely unchanged.

"Morning peak travel speeds have worsened on six of the seven major Sydney roads," Achterstraat says.

"The morning peak‘s average speed decreased from 31 to 29 km/h (while) the afternoon peak’s overall average speed remained unchanged at 42 km/h."

He says in 2010-11, the slowest major Sydney road was Victoria Road, in Sydney’s inner-west, with an average morning peak speed of 24 km/h and 31 km/h in the afternoon peak.

NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian and Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay issued a joint statement today in response to Achterstraat’s report, welcoming it’s tabling in state Parliament, but concerned about the findings.

They say the report highlighted the community’s concern with slow travel speeds for motorists and overcrowded buses, as well as overcrowded peak hour trains and freight bottlenecks, which were also highlight in the report.

Berejiklian says, however, the findings of the NSW Auditor-General’s report are not news to the community.

"We know our transport system does not work as it should which is why we have established the new integrated transport authority, Transport for NSW," she says.

"One of its six new divisions is dedicated to improving the customer experience and another is dedicated to improving our freight network."

Berejiklian responded to the implied criticism of the bus network by highlighting an extra 91 NightRide bus services having been added in the past year.

"But we know there is a long way to go," she says.

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