BOMBALA’S bus service to Canberra is about to change dramatically with even mayor Bob Stewart labelling the new timetable “a big inconvenience for passengers.”
The changes to the TrainLink service, formerly Country Link, mean buses will go to Canberra via Jindabyne.
Passengers boarding at Bombala will need to depart more than an hour earlier than previously and it will take almost two-and-a-half hours to get to Cooma.
The new timetable – which starts on July 1 – is part of a trial to improve public transport services in the Snowy Mountains.
But it has left many residents, who depend on the service, up in arms.
Karren Sebire lives at Craigie and is concerned that very few residents are aware of the changes to the timetable and the impact that it will have on their travel plans.
“I am a casual user of the bus but I feel there would be a handful of people who would use the bus regularly to go between Canberra and Sydney,” Ms Sebire said.
“My understanding is the trip from Bombala to Cooma will now take two hours and twenty five minutes, to be exact, and that is a long time for a trip that many people take.
“From my understanding there has been no consultation with the community and the visitors centre,” she said
Cr Stewart said the service was unsatisfactory and encouraged Bombala residents and those in the surrounding district to voice their concerns.
“I’ve talked at great length with (Member for Monaro) John Barilaro raising our concerns for the bus line,” Cr Stewart said.
“This will be a big inconvenience to the people that travel between Cooma and Canberra and I am concerned about it.
“Hopefully during this trial period they come and have some community consultation about what would be a better way to service this region,” he said.
Platypus Country tourism officer Louise Morley said she was not aware of the changes until a resident made a complaint.
“I had to make some phone calls about the changes and a timetable was only just issued to me last week,” Ms Morley said.
“The buses will come on the usual days Monday, Wednesday and Friday but now travel from Bombala, Bibbenluke, Dalgety then Jindabyne before heading to Berridale and then Cooma,” she said.
Member for Monaro, John Barilaro, said the changes had come about because the Snowy Mountains community had been advocating for a public bus service with better connections to Canberra and Sydney trains.
“This service, which is the first of its kind in the region, will make a significant difference to transport services for those previously unable to access them,” Mr Barilaro said.
“It is intended that the service will run as a one-year trial.
“Obviously with any change to existing services there’s bound to be a degree of disruption to people’s travelling routines.”
Mr Barilaro asked that residents be patient during the trial period and said he was happy to take on board residents’ concerns.
“There needs to be some consideration given to the intention behind the change which was to help open up the service to a greater number of people,” he said.
“While the change inevitably means that some people may experience longer travelling times, this has been necessary
in order to accommodate the travel demands of other communities in the region that previously missed out on accessing services.”
“It ought to be remembered that this is a 12-month trial.
“It has not yet been determined whether this arrangement will be permanent.
“Obviously I would be very happy to take on board any concerns that are raised with me from Bombala residents who are affected by the changes to the service.
“I will raise the matter with the NSW Transport Minister to see what can be done to minimise any disruptions to the service that Bombala residents currently enjoy.”
• To find out more about the service or to lodge a complaint contact NSW TrainLink on 131 500.