Huge crowd demands review of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie’s new bus timetable

Rage: There was a huge turnout of angry public transport users at a meeting calling for a review of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie’s new bus timetable on Monday night. Hundreds of furiouspublic transport users gave full voice to their resounding message to the NSW government ata public meeting on Monday night.

They want transport minister Andrew Constance toconduct a thorough, transparent, consultative review of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie’s new bus timetable.

The auditorium at Belmont 16s was packed to capacity for the meeting, hosted by the Hunter’s state Labor MPs, with the vocal crowd spilling out the front door of the club–someleft because they couldn’t get in.

Read more:School kids missed by bus again

It came after weeks of anger from public transport users, who said the new timetable introduced in January by private operator Keolis Downer hadimpacted their ability to get around.

The meeting heard fromseveral community members who told of how the new timetable had affected them.

Kimberley Anderson, a mother on maternity leave with a new baby,said she had usedpublic transport for two decades and her father was a bus driver for 25 years.

Ms Anderson told the meeting of a recent bad experience she had with the new on-demand bus service.

The meeting at Belmont 16s on Monday night.

“I needed to be in Charlestown on a Wednesday for a 10am appointment,” she said.

Read more:New bus timetable faces first test

“I booked this service on the Sunday before, to make sure I gave them plenty of notice. I was to be picked up between 9amand 9.30am. I do not live in the on-demand service area. I had to take my son and walk 20 minutes to get into the area.

“On the Wednesday, it was raining, and I arrived at the area by 9am to be sure I was there for the bus. At 9.02am I received a text message stating that my service had been cancelled.So I was waiting in the rain with my three-month-old son for a bus that wasn’t going to show.After numerous calls…a bus finally arrived at 9.45am.”

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley told the meetinghe believed the situation in Newcastle was akin to a public transport service in a“third world country”.

Mr Foley said the government should undertake a public and“damn urgent review”.

He invited parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald to speak.

Angry public transport users.

Mr MacDonald accepted, but could hardly get a word in over the top of shouting and booing from the crowd and a chant of“fix our buses”.

He said he wanted to invite a Transport for NSW spokesperson to speak and answer questions at the meeting, but had not been allowed.

TheHeraldunderstands Keolis Downer was prepared to send a representative if the company had been invited to be part of the meeting but it received no invitation.

Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said arally would be held at Gregson Park in Hamiltonon March 18.

Related content:

Live blog: Hunter bus timetable public meetingKeolis Downer releases new timetableDrivers cop abuse as tensions boil overProtest against bus timetable announced

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