Monday, 31 October 2011
Royal Life Saving Society of Australia
Today I rise to voice my concern on behalf of local residents about a proposed change to bus routes in Glenelg by the South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure. Under the proposal, which I became aware of in late September, all public buses will be rerouted away from Moseley Street and Jetty Road and, instead, will go down Gordon and Partridge streets.
In recent weeks I have been contacted by many concerned residents from the local area who have raised these issues with me, and I hope today I can give a voice to some of those people. I have been advised that the rationale for this is to help reduce congestion but, having received many letters, emails and telephone calls and having had people come into my office, I believe this plan could bring more problems than it solves.
Firstly, rerouting buses away from Jetty Road will reduce access to essential shops and services, especially for older people who rely on the bus to deliver them directly to Centrelink, the banks, pharmacies and doctors. As we know, one of the biggest challenges facing older people today is social isolation. Accessible transport plays an enormous role in encouraging social connectivity and healthy ageing.
The Glenelg library and community centre is located almost immediately on the current route and I am concerned that rerouting the buses could reduce access for some older people. I would like to think that Glenelg is and will remain equally accessible and enjoyable for all sectors of the community, regardless of their age.
Secondly, I am concerned about the potential economic impact of this proposal on local traders. Glenelg and Jetty Road can ill afford any more moves which makes it harder for people to access the main street. It has been a tough winter for many of those traders, who struggled through a mild summer beforehand.
Many passengers already travel directly through to Westfield Marion, where it is easy to get off and straight into the shopping centre, and changing the bus routes could see more go the same way. This would be a further blow to the local economy that we can ill afford, and I note that the Jetty Road Mainstreet Board have also expressed a preference for the status quo.
Further, there is a lack of suitable alternative locations for layovers so that bus drivers can take a break. Currently, bus drivers have access to toilet facilities, cafes and restaurants and space to park their vehicles. The proposed new layovers have none of these facilities, impacting on the Glenelg Bowling Club's own parking areas and that will lead to more congestion. There are also safety issues to be considered for drivers working late at night, stopping in areas which are perhaps less well lit than the current areas.
And fourthly, should the proposal proceed there will be increase in congestion, noise pollution and inconvenience, which will affect local residents, schools, including St Peter's Woodlands, and businesses. After becoming aware of this issue, I immediately wrote to the state minister, the Hon. Patrick Conlon, asking that the proposal not be implemented until proper consultation had taken place—that was on 27 September 2011. In my letter, I outlined these concerns on behalf of residents and urged them not to implement the proposal unless the community supported the plan. The support is clearly not there. Over the last few weeks I have spoken to a great many people and received a great deal of correspondence, with not one person or resident supporting the plan.
The local council, the City of Holdfast Bay, and the mayor are to be commended on their decision to listen to the concerns of residents and for having resolved on 11 October 2011 not to support the proposal. I therefore urge the transport department to reconsider their proposal in the light of overwhelming opposition from local residents and the local council and to scrap the proposal to change the bus routes. We need to make sure we get the balance right for all parties involved and listen to residents and the local council. I look forward to the minister's response.