The Courier-Mail

Disgruntle­d passengers give buses big swerve

- DARYL PASSMORE

HIGH prices and poor services are being blamed for driving southeast Queensland­ers off buses.

Brisbane City Council’s annual report, released yesterday, shows the number of passengers using Brisbane Transport buses fell by 2.2 million to 75.6 million in 2014-15 despite a rising population.

Across the whole TransLink region, bus patronage slipped 5.5 million to 113.1 million.

While the city council blamed fares for the fall, commuter advocates are demanding the State Government strip the council of responsibi­lity for operating buses in Brisbane.

“We have consistent­ly said since 2013 that failure to reform the bus network would lead to disaster,” RAIL Back on Track spokesman Robert Dow said. “Today we see exactly that.”

Mr Dow said routes needed to provide more highfreque­ncy services to and from interchang­e hubs where people can transfer to city-bound services. But Brisbane Transport refused to take part in the last TransLink review of the SEQ bus network in 2012-13.

A Courier-Mail investigat­ion in May highlighte­d that while more than 550 buses flooded into the CBD in the morning peak alone, adding to congestion, two-thirds of them were less than half full. Meanwhile, suburbs were being starved of regular services.

Council Public and Active Transport chairman Peter Matic said the declining passenger numbers were “a direct outcome of the ever-increasing public transport fares determined by the State Government and the perception of passengers that public transport is simply unaffordab­le.”

State Transport Minister Mark Bailey said a review of public transport prices was under way, but added: “This is not just about fares. They should restore the 74 buses they’ve cut. Very hard to catch a bus if it’s not actually turning up at your bus stop.”

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