City’s new bus timetable a backwards step

Changes: Karen Starkie, of Waratah, writes that the new bus timetable means some commuters now have to catch two or three buses, where they used to catch one.I AMtotally incensed at the new bus schedules and am far from the only person feeling this way. First off, may I say: what can we expect of a private company, for which making money is the only concern? We must, therefore, blame the state government for this debacle.

What I am most concerned about is people with disabilitiesand the elderly.Many of our bus stops will cease to exist and it is these two groups who will suffermost.Many are both unable to drive and unable to walk the longer distances to get to a bus stop. These people will become shut-ins, unable to have the freedom they deserve.

I have also been informed that the new buses are unable to easily accommodate people in wheelchairs or mothers with prams.We previously had a service that made it easier for those people to get around.This isn’t pushing forward, it’s going backward.

Many commuters are now also facing the prospect of catching two or even three buses to get to destinations, which previously needed only one. If you live in the Mayfield area, the 111 service to Kotara has been discontinued, so there is not one single service that takes people to the Kotara shops. If the reasoning was that the service was not well patronised, then that’s because the service wasn’t very good in the first place. But it should have been improved, not removed.

This is truly an indictment of our society today, when even the government hasno problem with inflicting misery as a sacrifice at the altar of the almighty dollar.

Karen Starkie,WaratahWhat about electricity?RE: A matter of management, Phil Moore, (Letters 13/1). Council “covers water, gas and electricity use at the sports grounds it directly manages”. This is interesting and factually incorrect, considering sporting clubs pay council extraordinary electricity fees for the use of flood lighting.

Additionally, is the council suggesting that sporting clubs and the community may take a higher level of control in the management of sporting facilities by establishing community park committees?

It seems that while “millions” are being spent on council parks in projects, sporting clubs (particularly soccer) seem to be the greatest advocate and fund generators for improvement, yet council red tape and indecision does nothing more than prevent growth in community space. Seeing as both Mr Moore and CEO Mr Bath have now both committed council to paying electricity costs, I am sure local sporting groups will be lining up for reimbursement of the many tens of thousands spent on lighting fees to council in recent years.

Barry Dawson, Rankin ParkMuddy watersHASthere not been a raft of articles and letters bemoaning the supposed unclean state of our ocean pool at Newcastle? Isn’t everyone keen to see them return to their pristine cleanness?

It appears not. On Saturday, two women arrived, covered themselves all over in some mud-like stuff and sat in the sun to dry it out. No problem there, but what did they do when the ‘mud’ was dry? Why, they jumped in the pool to wash it off! As you do.

Other users of the pool suggested that they might perhaps rinse the gunk off under the shower or in the surf first, but were ignored. No, straight into the pool they went. Regular users (like me), and others, were dumbfounded by their lack of consideration.

But, sadly, not as surprised as we should have been.

Jan Caine,MarylandPrivatisation wrong callPRIVATISINGpublic buses was wrong in the first place. When bus routes and timetables are changed, there will always be winners and losers. The residents of Caves Beach and Swansea Heads will be losers, as their 350 bus is re-routed. A number of Beaumont Street shopkeepers will also be losers. On the other hand, there will be some people and shopkeepers who will be winners (‘Keolis says network big step ahead’ and‘Lost service riles traders’, Newcastle Herald, 13/1).

Since public buses have been privatised, despite marketing campaigns, any changes in routes and timetables are not designed to improve the service, but to maximise the private operator’s monopoly profits and return on investment.Private operators increase monopoly profits by reducing services and raising fares. If they face government controls on these things, they press the government to relax these controls – and usually succeed. The current state government has an ideologically misguided ‘user pay’ policy on public services anyway. This behaviour by private bus operators disadvantages society in general, as passengers abandon buses and take to their cars.

When this happens, there are social or ‘external’ costs that are not borne by the private bus operator, but by everyone else. When more people use their cars rather than buses there are more traffic delays and there is more traffic congestion. This causes more driver frustration and road rage, more road accidents and more air pollution – not to mention the extra cost of infrastructure that becomes necessary such as traffic lights, roads and motorways and so on. Also, people pay more to run their cars.

As ‘natural monopolies’ most bus routes should never have been privatised in the first place. They should be run by the government with any losses subsidised by the taxpayer if necessary.

Geoff Black, Caves BeachLet playersspeak outWITHthe advent of technological innovations allowing sporting officials to review contentious decisions, there has been a lot of controversy in recent years about wrong calls being made regardless, and people who speak out against them being fined.

A recent example is in a Big Bash League cricket match where a batsman was called out when a lot of people, me included, feel that he shouldn’t have been. Thus far, a player and an ex-player in that match have faced sanctions for speaking out against it.

Professional players, coaches and other officials –and even fans –of any sport have a right to see that sport officiated fairly and within the rules. If this is not happening, be it due to umpiring mistakes or otherwise, the governing body has a responsibility to take action. By fining anyone who speaks out against what they see as poor umpiring decisions, Cricket Australia is acting against that very simple conceptand shirking itsresponsibility.

Joey Picton, New Lambton

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