TENSIONS were high at a public meeting on Bombala’s bus service last Thursday.
The meeting, attended by representatives from Trainlink and the office of Member for Monaro, John Barilaro, gave community members the opportunity to voice their
concerns about changes to the bus service that came into effect on Monday, June 30.
Bombala’s Mayor, Bob Stewart, was pleased with the number of
people who showed up for the meeting and got to put forward their ideas to help fix the troubled service.
“We had more than 30 people turn up for the event,” Cr Stewart said.
“At the meeting two options were put forward to the Trainlink people from the community.
“The first was to run a feeder bus that could operate between Cooma and Bombala and the second was the idea that Bombala share the early starts and late finishes with Jindabyne.”
Cr Stewart said he felt the first option was the most popular suggestion.
“That did seem to be the most popular at the meeting because that leg of the trip was the most needed by the community, in particular by the
elderly,” Cr Stewart said.
Cr Stewart said it was good to see that many people had come from Nimmitabel to attend he meeting as they have had the service cut completely.
“There is a bus they can catch from Eden but those times are fairly inconvenient,” Cr Stewart said.
Bombala resident Val McClusky was pleased with the meeting but hopes Trainlink remains interested in the service.
“I think the Trainlink people didn’t understand why we, as a community, were so upset,” Mrs McClusky said.
“They did not consult us at all, not to mention that we were threatened with not having a service at all.
“This is a 12-month trial and we just didn’t get included in the conversation.
“I think they understand us better [now] but we still don’t have any changes in place and we are hoping to have another meeting in a month’s time.”
Mrs McClusky was pleased to see former member for Eden- Monaro, Mike Kelly, attend the meeting and said his interest in the problem was appreciated.
Dr Kelly said he had been watching the problem with a strong interest as he had particular concern with the way the state government was peeling public transport away from small communities like Bombala.
“I attended the meeting because I am particularly concerned with the lack of community consultation that has apparently happened with the bus service provided by Trainlink,” Dr Kelly said.
“Basic services like this are often the life-blood of communities and without them you can slowly strangle a community.
“From the meeting it appears that this service directly impacts on the elderly in the community when they need it the most, when they are ill health, and this can have a detrimental impact on the community.”
Dr Kelly said it was discussed how cutting the service may save money in the short term but would end up costing the community much more in the long run.
“The idea of a false economy was discussed at the meeting and in terms of Bombala and Nimmitabel, I think it applies here,” Dr Kelly said.
“Cutting or restricting this service in the short term may seem like a cost effective effort but in terms of the damage it could do by driving people out of this small community it could be detrimental.
“I believe these communities have a bright future, with progress in the clean energy industry in the region.
“[But] how much more can these small communities endure from the state government slowly strangling the life out of regional towns?” he asked.