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State Government dumps bus route changes and Service SA cuts

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The State Government has spectacularly dumped its “once-in-a-generation” change to South Australia’s bus system only two weeks into a six-week consultation period, also backing down on a long-standing policy to close Service SA centres in Adelaide.

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“The public transport users in South Australia have made it abundantly clear that they do not want to see any changes to the bus routes,” Premier Steven Marshall said today, following a meeting of cabinet.

“We will not be proceeding – those proposed changes to the bus routes in SA will not be going ahead.”

The cabinet also today scrapped long-standing – and long-defended – plans to close Service SA centres in Mitcham, Prospect and Modbury, with the Government conceding it would now have to forge ahead with a significant budget hole.

It’s a major embarrassment for Transport Minister Stephan Knoll, but has likely offset a divisive rebellion from enraged backbenchers at tonight’s party-room meeting.

“Cabinet’s made a decision not to proceed with the proposed bus changes,” Knoll told reporters.

“We’ve been saying till we were blue in the face that these changes were out for consultation… as a government we’re going to listen to that advice and that feedback, and not proceed.

“What good governments do is listen to the people that they serve… public transport users want to see those existing routes continue.”

On the Service SA centres – which his office has continually insisted would close – he said “we’ve actually seen a lot of improvement in the way our Service SA centres operate” and the three earmarked for closure would now “move to a new footprint and new way of operating [that] will deliver strong benefits to the people of Adelaide”.

He said there had been a “40 per cent reduction in people having to line up and wait” at the centres.

The bus plan was announced just over two weeks ago, with the State Government promising a “once-in-a-generation” change to the way public transport is delivered in South Australia.

The debate immediately became about the 500 bus stops the Government said would be axed, with Knoll insisting these stops attracted few patrons and the new schedule would add more than 1100 Go Zone stops with high-frequency services.

Knoll has been under daily pressure over the changes, admitting last week that nearly 1000 stops would be axed for the general public, due to an additional 400 stops being converted to school-only stops.

The Opposition has been holding regular media events with potentially affected commuters concerned that they will lose services.

Consultation on the changes was due to be completed at the end of July.

While the Premier said the proposed bus route cuts would not go ahead, the Government would continue to find ways to improve the bus system.

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