Newcastle’s private transport operator, Keolis Downer, says it will introduce 1200 new bus and ferry services when it starts its new routes and timetables on January 14.
The firm has released many details of its new network over the past few weeks, including buses every 15 minutes on four key routes across the city and an on-demand bus trial in Lake Macquarie.
Keolis Downer Hunter chief executive officer Campbell Mason said the company had listened to feedback from existing customers and those who did not use public transport before devising its new plan.
“Customers will receive a better service with the introduction of four frequent routes every 15 minutes during the day linking Charlestown, Glendale, Wallsend and Jesmond to the Newcastle CBD,” he said.
“We’re here to get more people riding public transport.
“What we have designed and announced today is a new network that reflects what the locals have been telling us they want.We should see patronage grow.”
Three of thefour main routes willconnect with the Stockton ferry at Queen’s Wharf.
The new network amounts to a wholesale overhaul of bus routes in the city, and eachnew routewillhave a new two-digit number.
“The key for us is to get information out well ahead of time to customers so they can plan their travel, they know what the new network is going to look like, what changes are coming from the 14thof January onwards.
“It’s good that the implementation is in the middle of January, which is a quieter time. That will allow people a bit of lead-in.
“We’ve been briefing our staff on the new network. We have to make sure they’re well across the new routes for day one. The new drivers will need to be very well briefed on the new routes they will be taking.”
Mr Campbell said some routes and timetables might need to be reviewed to make sure they were operating as planned.
“If we find that the time between certain points on the network is longer or shorter than had been planned, we need to adjust the timetable accordingly.”
Keolis Downer has attracted criticism from commuters and for underpaying drivers since taking over the network five months ago but was widely praised for its handling of the large Supercars crowd last weekend.
Mr Campbell said the government and Supercars would examine whether they could draft in more ferries next year to alleviate a bottleneck to and from Stockton during the busiest times of the race weekend.
He said Keolis Downer supported a new ferry wharf near the transport interchange at Wickham.
Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said at Tuesday night’s council meeting that a ferry terminal could be built at the new cruise ship terminal at Carrington, and Mr Campbell said Keolis Downer would be happy to run ferries when a ship was in town.
Information on the new bus and ferry routes and timetables is available at newcastletransport.info. The detailed timetables will be available from January 2.
Driverless bus trial