Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman has assured disappointed commuters that the Goulburn to Canberra coach service has been suspended and not cancelled by Transport for NSW.
The service that runs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, leaving Goulburn at 9 am and departing from Canberra at 1.55 pm, will end on 30 September due to COVID-19.
Only a handful of people were using the trial service, said Ms Tuckerman.
“Patronage across the transport network is down significantly due to COVID-19, and while the success or failure of a trial service is not based on patronage alone, the Goulburn to Canberra service has been averaging six customers per trip,” she said.
“In the circumstances, an accurate assessment of the performance of the trial is not possible and Transport for NSW has therefore made the difficult decision to suspend the service. There have been many enterprises attempt to provide this service and all have failed to date. If we want to give this service every opportunity to succeed, our current times of a pandemic are not going to be an accurate reflection of patronage and regional travel.”
However, commuter and Hume Regional Committee chair for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Richard Orchard, said he believes the service won’t return despite Ms Tuckerman’s assurance.
He has been using the service for his day job to move vehicles to and from Canberra, and believes the COVID-19 pandemic is an excuse to cancel the service as there is no date to recommence it.
“It has been very handy to me and to others,” said Mr Orchard. “The bus is great because it goes straight to the Civic Interchange and then to both John James Hospital and Canberra Hospital. It also allows quick access by Canberra buses and trams to the rest of the city.
“Apparently, ‘reviewed’ is political language for ‘cancelled on September 30’. They seem to have calculated demand of the service during the COVID-19 era when use of public transport is down to about one-third of what it was with people working from home and forced onto the Centrelink line.”
He said it is unfair of the NSW Government to think the service would be commercially viable through the pandemic.
“That’s why we have a government and government services,” said Mr Orchard.
However, Ms Tuckerman said the “temporary suspension” was “an opportunity to receive and create something more effective”, suggesting the service should change to a commuter service, leaving earlier from Goulburn and returning after 5 pm.
Mr Orchard said the “commuter service needed to happen” but in addition to the current service, not instead of it.
He said the current Goulburn to Canberra service is great for the community’s elderly people.
“The bus leaves at an appropriate time for the elderly and goes to the hospital,” said Mr Orchard. “Plus, it only costs them $2.50.”