Bus SA calling for urgently needed increased government funding for woeful regional SA transport services

Bus SA

An initial SA Government injection of just $1.5m per annum would dramatically improve

services to three key regional areas

South Australia’s peak bus and coach industry association, Bus SA is urgently calling for increased funding for bus services for regional South Australia, saying many of SA’s regional communities are being seriously impacted by a lack of usable public transport.

According to a newly released and independent report, which investigated the regional public transport spend in each state of Australia, residents in regional SA who rely completely on bus services are among some of the most poorly serviced anywhere in Australia.

The Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, based at the University of Sydney, undertook the study on behalf of Bus SA.

Bus SA spokesperson Jared Kent said the report clearly showed that South Australia’s regions don’t enjoy even the most basic of regular, accessible bus services that people need to allow them to plan their working and social lives with certainty and enjoy the freedoms of access that their city counterparts enjoy.

And he says, compared to other states around Australia, the current spend per capita in regional South Australia is woefully inadequate.

“For example, if you look at the per capita regional spend in New South Wales it’s $439 per head and in Western Australia it’s $133 per head in Western Australia. And yet, in regional SA our current spend is a paltry $40 per head,” said Mr Kent.

“Looking closer to home, the difference in the spend between metro Adelaide and regional South Australia is staggering with $273 per head for metro and just $40 for regional SA. That’s a huge discrepancy.”

In the lead up to the March 2022 election, Bus SA is calling on the South Australian Government to provide an initial funding injection of less than $1.5millon per annum which the industry body says would offer major improvements to services in three key regional areas, Mount Gambier in South Australia’s southeast, the Riverland city of Renmark and the Spencer Gulf cities of Port Augusta and Port Pirie.

“At the moment we don’t have an appropriate range of enough services in our regions for people to be able to plan on getting from A to B via public transport, they often don’t or can’t own cars, taxi services are expensive, and the end result is people in our communities who find themselves effectively stranded and isolated.”

“We need to be able to offer people who choose to live in the regions better frequency and better hours of services, so they can plan their lives with some sense of certainty,” said Mr Kent.

“Currently, we have the ridiculous situation in Mount Gambier for example, where despite the fact that it is the second largest city in South Australia, the bus services only run in one direction, over a very limited footprint with absolutely no services on the weekend. How usable is that?”

For Mount Gambier resident Paul Manfrin who is vision impaired, the lack of decent public transport is incredibly frustrating.

“Bus services haven’t changed here for 30 years, even though the city has obviously expanded over the decades,” he said. “I rely on public transport to get myself to and from work because it’s extremely important for me to maintain my independence as much as I can, but it’s really challenging with such an inadequate bus service.”

Bus SA says the State Government should be working towards an investment of at least $70 per capita for bus services in regional South Australia.

“That is still a very modest investment when you compare it to other states, but it would make the world of difference in our regions,” said Mr Kent.

“We need the South Australian government to increase its investment in these areas to allow us to increase services to run two ways, seven days a week with reasonable frequency between 9am and 5pm Mondays to Fridays and 8am to 4pm on weekends and public holidays.” said Mr Kent. “I don’t think anyone would consider that unreasonable.”

Mr Kent said Bus SA was realistic about the challenges in fixing all regional SA’s transport issues, which is why it was initially focusing on just three areas as a key priority in 2022.

“We know we can’t solve all of our problems all at once and we understand the State Government has many funding priorities,” he said.

“But we believe that the amount that we’re seeking is realistic and the returns on that modest investment could be genuinely life changing for many of our regional communities,” he said.

“Our growing regional communities simply deserve better!”

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