Newcastle Transport: the Issues and Solutions
It’s not you, Newcastle public transport is awful. Newcastle Transport keeps re-inventing the wheel, and it’s not helpful. Peter Hyslop recounts commuting on public transport and explains how Newcastle Transport is going to adjust the gaps in service.
Public transport never stops surprising us. Chances are, you were caught up in the massive train fiasco on the first day of uni. The whole network was shut down with virtually zero notice. Throw a load of wild weather into the mix, and the train timetable had only just taken to its feet.
Then there are buses. Most routes servicing Newcastle come once an hour throughout the day; if that. Don’t go where they used to and are pretty much always empty. Trips between Lake Macquarie and Newcastle require a change at Charlestown. Once-popular buses that went straight from the lake to Customs House no longer exist.
Changing at Charlestown is, to say the least, an experience. A vibrant hub of local eshays cussing and publicly harassing from far and wide to accompany your 90-minute wait.
It’s developed a reliance on cars, glorious cars. Petrol at a whopping $2 per litre, council parking rates at whatever the heck they like (am I right NuSpace friends), and eye-watering traffic at John Hunter Hospital rivalling a Centrelink queue. It’s no wonder the local transport authority wants to change things up a bit.
From April 3, Newcastle Transport’s much-trumpeted “More Services” campaign offers ONE extra service between Newcastle Interchange and Charlestown (creatively labelled as 10X). “Minor changes” will be made to the existing bus timetable, and On-Demand buses have only just joined the options for a peak hour commute, extending weekday operating hours to 6 pm.
Advice for the On-Demand buses? Never rely on them. Ever. They’re always late, make major detours to your route for picking up other customers, and require booking sometimes hours in advance. They only service residents in Lake Macquarie, catering for people who have all day to take the scenic route. In other words, you’ll be barreling for Belmont before you get to Charlestown.
But it’s not all bad. If you live in Stockton, it’s good news- a shiny new timetable will offer 52 more services throughout the week. Plus, more light rail services for hopping around town on Saturday and Sunday nights. It’s not quite the adjustment we wanted, but it’s what we have to work with.
Tips for Getting Around
- Even if you know your commute to the minute, it’s always good to check the situation before you leave.
- Apps such as TripView offer real-time tracking for services and show other options if you get stuck. You can save frequent trips to check on them quickly and yes, it is worth six bucks.
- Make sure you’ve checked every option at www.transportnsw.info. A website that automatically finds the best way from A to B.
And there’s always walking if you get desperate. Have fun changing at Charlestown.
All images and feature image by Peter Hyslop, Yak Staff Writer