The lack of public transport in areas throughout the Hills affects a wide variety of people.
Everyone from working parents to the elderly and young people would benefit from an increase in services, so it’s encouraging to see the Mt Barker Council picking up the issue.
Public transport is expensive to run, even more so in the country when taking into account sparse populations and long distances, so it’s understandable that bringing in extra services to the Hills could be difficult for the State Government to justify.
However, it’s not just a numbers game.
The government needs to accept that it has a social responsibility to provide a basic level of public transport services to those who need it.
Macclesfield is just one example of a small community which appears to be poorly serviced.
The town has one weekday bus service to Aldgate through Meadows and Echunga which operates from 7-7.30am and from 4.30-7pm.
The fact that there is no service during the day or on weekends and none linking Macclesfield to Mt Barker highlights the need for a review.
Young people in Macclesfield simply have no way to get to Mt Barker, unless their parents are able and willing to drive them.
Towns such as Meadows, Echunga and, to a lesser extent, Nairne and Hahndorf, suffer similar service shortfalls.
As highlighted by the council, the current provision of Hills services seem to be targeted towards getting people in and out of the city.
While this is an important and well-used route, intra-town buses linking smaller centres with the regional hub of Mt Barker are just as essential.
The buses don’t have to be big or even very frequent.
A couple of services a day linking Macclesfield to Mt Barker, perhaps through Echunga and Meadows, would go a long way to appeasing concerns.
A complete overhaul of Hills services is not required, instead a subtle approach to some specific problems could result in significant improvements.
The new, tougher P-plate laws, which place a cap on passenger numbers and enforce night-time driving restrictions, may well save lives, but they will cause problems in the country for young people unless they are matched with improved public transport options.
sTaxis can also be hard to find in the Hills, limiting options even further.
Hopefully Transport Services Minister Chloe Fox hears the council’s concerns and investigates ways to make improvements.
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