It was a case of two more bus services being introduced rather than trains when the minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, visited Singleton on Friday morning.
He revealed the trial of a new express bus service between Singleton and Maitland will begin on Monday with the objective of supplementing the current inadequate train services to Newcastle.
Confirming buses are the only viable option due to the amount of freight trains in use.
In making the announcement, the Minister acknowledged the role community advocacy played in bringing about this change.
Since 2008 a local group, Two More Trains, have campaigned tirelessly for additional passenger train services to be introduced between Singleton and Newcastle.
However, the advocacy group along with Council acknowledge while this is step in the direction there is still work to do.
Mayor Sue Moore says the announcement is a good first step towards improving public transport in Singleton and a practical acknowledgement by the state government of the issues that exist for our community in terms of connectivity to other parts of the Hunter.
“Council has been working closely with community groups, including Two More Trains for Singleton and the Singleton Business Chamber, to highlight the issue with the state government,” she says.
“We were pleased to meet with the Minister when the NSW Cabinet was in Singleton earlier this year and thank Mr Constance for making the trip to Singleton for this announcement. The news of two new inbound and two new outbound bus services between Singleton and Maitland – with stops at Branxton, Greta and Lochinvar – will be an opportunity for commuters to show their support for more public transport options in Singleton, and to continue the conversation particularly for more rail services to connect Singleton with health and education services in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter.”
She says the new bus services are a great example of the outcomes that can come from council working together with the community and the state government.
“However, the shortage of public transport options in Singleton has long been a significant issue for our community. As Mayor, I will continue to work with my fellow councillors, the general manager and our community to advocate for more services, in particular rail, to best meet the needs of the people of Singleton.”
Member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen who joined the Minister at the time of the announcement, says the uptake of the trail will be monitored to check we have got the timing right and customer needs are being met.
“Operated by Hunter Valley Buses, the Route 180X will operate two services a day in each direction seven days a week, with the buses designed to link with Newcastle train services arriving and departing from Maitland,” he explains.
Trials for the buses include:
- The route 180X will depart from Singleton Station at 7:37am and 1:07pm each weekday, with services from Maitland Station leaving at 8:55am and 2:10pm;
- On weekends, buses will leave Singleton Station at 9:47am and 2:46pm, and depart Maitland Station at 10:48am and 3:47pm.;
- Customers will be charged a standard Opal distance based bus fare, which is $4.61 for a full fare trip between Singleton and Maitland, continuing their journey from Maitland to Hamilton on the train will cost just $1.45 after the Opal transfer discount of $2.