Buses are running on empty

By KAT MULLARD

ALREADY overburdened community transport services could be stretched to the limit after new bus routes impact on Coffs Coast residents.

Earlier this month, Busways introduced changes to their bus services in the Coffs Harbour region, resulting in some passengers having to walk further to and from bus stops.

Busways group service development manager, Andrew Glass said that community transport was an option for some people if they were having problems catching the bus.

But according to Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca Community Transport manager Jan Ryan, the organisation is already having difficulty keeping up with demand in the area.

"We can't replace town buses. We are not an emergency service. We provide a basic service with an aim to keep people out of supported care," she said.

As a result of the new Busways routes, Ms Ryan said the organisation has seen an increase in people needing their services.

"The people who are contacting us are all eligible, but we can't help them straight away. We can't do it all we're already struggling," Ms Ryan said.

Ms Ryan said they had already been contacted by residents in Azalea Avenue and Gundagai Street affected by the new bus routes.

"We've had a call from a resident from Gundagai Street who lives in a complex with about units and from a person in Azalea Avenue who also lives in a complex of about 40 units with elderly people who are now without transport," Ms Ryan said.

Ms Ryan said she was concerned that people who have been able to catch public transport in the past, were now at risk of losing their independence.

Service co-ordinator for the organisation, Linda Brebner has been dealing with the difficulty of accommodating the extra passengers.

"We don't want to discourage people from calling us we never say never, but people may have to wait longer," Ms Brebner said.

"People have to pre-book with our service, it used to be a 24 hour wait, now it's 2-3 days. This could extend to a week if the demand keeps increasing."



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