Newcastle’s new bus and ferry network has received a vote of confidence, with Opal data for the month showing increased patronage on key routes and the elimination of ‘ghost buses’.
A 28 day comparison from January 2017 to January 2018 shows patronage has remained generally steady across the network, while frequent services are attracting thousands of commuters daily.
Keolis Downer General Manager Mark Dunlop said the early data was promising and gave hard evidence of how the system was performing.
“Newcastle Transport’s ‘New Way’ timetables changes started on 14th January, delivering more than 1,200 extra services, four frequent bus routes running every 15 minutes, and an ‘On Demand’ bus trial in Lake Macquarie.”
“The latest Opal data is in, and although the new network is in its infancy we’re pleased to see commuters have familiarised their new routes and are using the four new frequent services in droves.”
“The most popular route so far has been the 11 from Charlestown to Queens Wharf via the University and Mayfield, averaging 2,400 passengers per-day, which is an increase of 640 people, or 35 percent, on the similar route 100 service a year ago.”
“Another winner is the 13 from Glendale to the city, which averaged 1,320 passengers per-day, an increase of 550 or 70 percent from the similar 363 route.”
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald MLC welcomed the rise in patronage.
“These early figures are encouraging. Business as usual was not an option with declining patronage. I believe with increasing awareness of the new services and listening to feedback, Newcastle and the Lake Macquarie will see even more take up of public transport,” Mr MacDonald said.
“Through the Voice of Newcastle consultation program, the community said they needed more frequency between hubs. Newcastle Transport has delivered, and it’s great to see the 15 minute buses working for residents.”.
“The On Demand trial is also proving a success with patronage growing by the day, as commuters in Lake Macquarie realise they can order a bus to their door and travel anywhere within the trial area, including Charlestown Square and Lake Macquarie Fair.”
Mr Dunlop said as the network settles the overall picture of what’s working and what’s not will become clearer.
“Through data and community feedback we’re constantly analysing and reviewing the new network,” he said.
“While it’s great to see we don’t have buses carrying just ten people per day like on the old network, there are still potential tweaks and adjustments may prove necessary.”
“This has been a monumental change to how buses operate in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and understandably it will take time to get used to. We’re taking all feedback from the community seriously and our Travel Concierge service has helped people with planning their new commute so far.”
“I’d like to extend a massive thank you to our drivers who have quickly adjusted to the network and are helping passengers get used to the system every day, and to our passengers for their patience through these changes”.