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Metro the Solution to Gridlock

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 7 April 2016

Tags: Metro Tasmania, Hobart Light Rail

Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, I rise to speak tonight about an issue that is concerning to a number of our constituents in Denison.  It relates directly to the traffic congestion problems that people are experiencing in Hobart and southern Tasmania, and particularly the role of Metro in either contributing to or ultimately solving the traffic congestion issues.  This is correspondence which I have received from Judy Adams, who was named citizen of the year a few years ago in Glenorchy for her contribution to the community.  This is how the Metro changes have affected not only Judy's life, but the lives of a number of people who live in Denison.

She is concerned that what was a reasonable Metro service has been reduced to an unreliable service that is not meeting her needs.  I will read directly from Ms Adams' email:

Well done, Metro.  The bus route in my area only has two buses in the morning for people wanting to get to work by 9:00; one at 7.28 and one at 8.05.  The route used to go up Creek Road and service Lenah Valley Primary, Bedford Street and along to a spot in New Town near Claude Street where a large group of residents caught the bus daily.  In their wisdom, Metro changed the route from servicing the back streets of West Moonah and New Town for those people who reside there and are not near the main road.  It now goes along main road from Creek Road and then turns up Giblin Street.  Numbers have dropped considerably on the earlier bus now that the route has altered.  For the early morning bus, in part, because the new route no longer gets you into the city by 8.00; it is more likely 8.05 a.m. now despite the earlier departure time from 7.35 to 7.28 from Highfield Street.

The new bus route now goes along the main road, which is amply serviced by many other buses and no longer services the back streets of New Town.  This adds extra time to the travel due to main road congestion.  Most days it takes an extra 15 minutes due to traffic congestion by driving along the main road.  Topping that off, it is never on time.  Sometimes the 7.28 bus is early and you miss it, or it is over ten minutes late, leaving passengers wondering if they have missed it.  Likewise the buses home end at 5.30, but are always late leaving due to traffic congestion on Campbell Street, meaning they cannot get to the bus mall to leave on time for the homeward journey. 

Unreliable services and ridiculous routes lead to people making alternative travel plans including driving.  Case in point, this morning the 7.28 bus left at 7.26 and hence people missed it.  We had to wait for the 8.05 a.m. bus.  That bus came at 8.15 and did not get us to the city until 8.55 a.m.  Given that I really need to be in the city by 8.00 the new route and service is not providing for my needs so I will be making alternative arrangements.  Judging by comments on the bus services in general, with other regular commuters, Facebook comments and on the Mercury and Metro sites, I am not alone in finding the new routes do not suit and people ask why the roads are congested.  Metro would do well to rethink their strategies as the No. 14 West Moonah/New Town service is not working very well from this commuter's perspective.  I have taken to driving to Lenah Valley to find a more reliable service that is a more direct route and offers more services beyond the 7.28 a.m. bus that does not arrive into town by 8.00 a.m., and not being able to return home after 5.30 p.m. or on weekends as our service does not extend beyond these times.

I also hear that there is a bus route in South Hobart that used to get kids commuting into the city, into town, after the primary school finished, but the changed timetable now sees them left to wait more than half an hour to enable them to bus into the city.  Parents do not want the kids left to wait, so they have to drive to collect them.  Not sure who changed the times and routes and on what basis but the same issue applies to my route that no longer services Wellwood Street.  The Lenah Valley Primary kids who reside in West Moonah and used to catch the bus near the school now have to be collected by parents in cars creating bottle necks on Creek Road.  This is but two services.  How many other services are being affected?  Some consolidated planning is needed and proper community consultation and discussion to see how the changes are impacting and what can be fixed to make the services user friendly and fit the community.

I have voiced concerns before with Metro and do not get much of a response.  Some scrutiny would not be remiss especially as we move into a time period where since the routes changed, traffic congestion has worsened and everyone is scratching their heads over what the issue could be.  I have just returned from Easter in Sydney.  No issues with public transport there.  It is quicker than driving, unlike Hobart.  I would welcome some new strategies for public transport in Hobart.  For example, Metro looking at smaller buses for inner city areas, fast ferries for those over the river, a park and ride system or a light rail, or even a bus lane along the old railway line having seen how this works wonderfully in Adelaide.

We know that the changes to the Metro schedule are not the only change that has impacted on traffic congestion in Hobart, but clearly it is a factor.  Metro changed their bus timetable in early January and we saw, when children went back to school and university students went back to the University of Tasmania, congestion significantly worsen in Hobart.

I understand the minister has established a task force to look at the congestion issues but he must go back to Metro and get them to explain how they are proposing to contribute to easing congestion.  At the moment there are older people living in the fringes of our suburbs and students living in the back streets who are not being serviced by Metro.  There are students, including my own children, who have to walk longer to get to the Metro bus stop in order to get to school.  Something has changed and the big change has been the Metro schedule and I ask the minister sincerely to have a look at it.

Time expired.

The House adjourned at 6.59 p.m.