New bus route 'too impractical'

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian
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A public bus route on the south coast, due to be cancelled at the end of the year, has been given a reprieve.

But locals say the new route, which detours to Broomehill, is now almost too impractical to use.

The current service runs between the southeast towns of Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe to Albany.

Member for the mining and pastoral region Dave Grylls had written to Minister for Transport Troy Buswell and the Public Transport Authority, requesting the Government continue bus services in the region, despite a decree to cancel five services across the agricultural areas by the end of December.

Mr Grylls said he had been recently advised by the minister of the reinstatement of the service with the proposed new route.

However, Shire of Ravensthorpe chief executive Officer Pascoe Durtanovich said the new route would add almost 250km and several hours to the trip.

He said the extra time and distance involved in getting to Albany would deter passengers from using the service.

"We wonder how many people will use the service now given the extra time and distance involved," he said.

Mr Durtanovich said the Shire had requested the original service continue, using a smaller bus, but he said he had yet to hear back from the Department of Transport regarding this proposal.

Mr Grylls said he had sought community input into the proposed closure of the current service, saying the cancellation of the service would have an adverse impact on sections of the Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun communities.

"I asked the minister to reconsider the decision to close the existing service, considering the impact it would have on local people, particularly the aged population and those with health issues," he said.

Mr Grylls said he had been advised Transwa would conduct a review of requirements in early 2014, and the concerns of people in the region would be considered as part of that review.

In the Wheatbelt, newly elected deputy leader of the National Party and member for the Central Wheatbelt Mia Davies has welcomed the six-month reprieve given to the underused Avonlink train service from Northam to Perth.

She said reinstatement of the service had given the community time to work on changes to improve patronage.

"I'm reasonably confident that if we put together a good case, the continuation of the service is in line with predicated grow- th in the Avon," Ms Davies said.

She said changes to the service, including scheduling times, would make a huge difference to patronage levels.

"The community raised with me the fact that unless you are a commuter (to Perth) it is currently incredibly inconvenient," she said. "There is a whole section of the community that the service doesn't suit."

Ms Davies said she was lobbying for the development of an integrated transport service plan for the whole of the Wheatbelt region.

"My intention is to write to the minister and ask for consideration that we work up an integrated transport plan for the whole region, based on the fact that we are doing some work already around the rail and how that works in with the bus services that we have in the broader Wheatbelt region," she said.

But while bus services have been reinstated in the southeast and southwest regions, the minister had yet to announce any reprieve for bus services throughout the Wheatbelt.

_Countryman _previously reported on the cancellation of services, including Boxwood Hill to Bremer Bay, Hopetoun to Ravensthorpe, Quairading to Narembeen, Albany to Ravensthorpe, and Northam to Mukinbudin.

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