Bus backflip

It is hardly surprising the State Government decided to kill off its “once-in-a-generation” bus network reforms given the severity of public backlash.
The changes would have seen about 1000 general-use bus stops removed or used only as school stops, and dozens of routes cut or restructured – including axing Nairne’s only direct link to the Adelaide CBD.
The proposals were met with public outrage and led several Liberal MPs – including Kavel’s Dan Cregan – to stand with their communities rather than meekly going along with the restructure.
Having no doubt spent a tremendous amount of money, time and resources developing the reforms, the ensuing backlash and prompt dismissal of those plans created instant embarrassment for the Government.
However, it was at least astute enough to realise the potential longer term fallout and respond swiftly.
For it to completely drop the sweeping changes just two weeks into a six-week public consultation period, it clearly saw that pushing the reforms through would have led to increased community disapproval and likely future turmoil within the Party itself.
Governments are sometimes forced to make decisions that are deeply unpopular and it is remarkable that Premier Steven Marshall came to the conclusion just a few days after the initial announcement that these much-vaunted improvements to the public transport system were not worth the political pain.
Let’s hope the Government has not lost its courage to strive for future reforms to improve the public transport system.
If there is any good to come from the debacle it must be that the Government learns how to better communicate its vision.
Transport Minister Stephan Knoll must wear much of the responsibility for this failure as his less-than-honest sales pitch treated the public as fools.
Saying people were not interested in the bigger picture of the proposed changes and were only interested in what was happening to the bus stop at the end of their street, is arrogant in the extreme.
His attempt to mislead people into thinking only 500 stops would be affected when the reality was about 1000 not only allowed mistrust to fester in the community, it gave the Opposition a free hit for two weeks.
Intelligent, honest and humble politicians are what the community wants.
Mr Marshall needs to ensure the Member for Schubert works on his skillset.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.

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