The Opposition claimed yesterday that its analysis of the proposed new system showed that more than 1000 stops would be cut in the reforms aimed at increasing the frequency of services on key routes.
Knoll initially wouldn’t be drawn into the claim, but this morning he revealed that in addition to the more than 500 bus stops he has admitted would be lost to the system, more than 400 others would be converted to school bus stops – unavailable to general commuters.
While the minister claims all of the information about route changes is on the Government’s consultation website, it is difficult to gain a macro view of the system-wide changes, as opposed to information about individual bus routes, without cross-referencing every new route with the existing maps.
After initially telling ABC Radio Adelaide that he couldn’t say how the Opposition had made its calculations, he revealed that the conversion of general stops to school-only stops would number more than 400 – bringing the total number of stops closed to commuters to nearly 1000.
“I must admit I don’t understand where the Opposition have got their figures from, but I think that from … the public’s point of view, what they want to know is ‘what does this mean for my bus route?'”, Knoll said.
“… What’s also happened, there are a number of stops which are going to be retained but be used for school routes, so specific routes where kids get picked up from home and dropped to their school, and those routes exist right across Adelaide, so that information’s been out there since day one.”
When pressed, he said there were “somewhere just over 400” such stops that would be converted to school pick-up only.
When asked why he hadn’t revealed this number earlier, he said: “We have talked about the figures here this morning. We’ve talked about the fact that it’s over 500, we’ve talked about the fact that there about over 400 school stops.”
The revelations have added pressure to the process of selling the changes, which are designed to hugely increase “Go Zones” – stops where services can be expected every 15 minutes or less.
Later, Premier Steven Marshall indicated that “excellent” feedback from his own backbenchers like Steve Murray, in Davenport, and Dan Cregan, in Kavel, might lead to changes to the proposals, which are out for consultation.
“We’re out, we’ve listened to people, we’ve put forward a plan, we’re continuing to listen, we’ll continue to receive that feedback and ultimately we’ll make a decision in the best interests of all South Australia,” he said.
Labor leader Peter Malinauskas said the Government was trying to implement a cut to public transport services, under the guise of reform.
“This is not a reform as the Premier likes to articulate, it is a retrofitting of a plan to accommodate a $46 million cut that was announced back in the 2018 State Budget,” he told ABC radio.
“Of course, the changes are now occurring at the worst possible time. There are about 180,000 South Australians who are now unemployed or underemployed and each of those individuals are going to be looking at ways they can continue to engage with society and our economy and … depending on government services to be able to do that.”
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