5 April 2024

Chequebook out for shelters but Wagga buses to remain cash only

| Jarryd Rowley
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MP Jenny Aitchison visited Wagga Wagga this week to announce a new grant to upgrade bus shelters across the city. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

Several bus shelters across Wagga Wagga and Cootamundra will soon receive a facelift thanks to a State Government Passenger Scheme grant.

The grant will help to create more accessible public transport infrastructure through the installation of tactile ground surface indicators, security lighting, improved kerbside access, better timetable boards and new bus stop seating.

Four shelters are due to receive upgrades in Wagga including the shelters at Fernleigh Road, Turvey Park; Fernleigh Road, Mount Austin; Fay Avenue, Kooringal and the corner of Stanley Street and Lake Albert Road, with three unannounced locations in Cootamundra also expecting to receive treatment.

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Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison said the NSW Government’s investment in regional bus stops and shelters would help make it easier for people with disabilities and mobility issues to get to work, school, the shops, health care and social opportunities.

“In 2020 there was a significant upgrade to the bus services in this community; we’re looking to continue those developments with these upgrades,” she said.

“We think that improving the bus stop infrastructure will enable people because while they’re waiting for the bus, they can ensure that they’re safe and comfortable and most importantly that getting on and off the bus is easier.”

While the new bus shelter upgrades are welcome, many people who use public transport have been left wondering why the upgrades have been announced when travellers are still unable to use EFTPOS to pay for trips.

Ms Aitchison explained that since 2023 the NSW Government had rolled out electronic ticketing trials in Bathurst and Dubbo and hoped to expand the trials into the Riverina in the future.

“It is very frustrating for commuters in regional areas to have to carry exact cash in order to get a ticket, and we understand that,” she said.

“We are definitely prioritising that as part of our bus networks; it will take some time. We know that some operators are ready to go with their own technology now, but it’s about negotiating the best way forward in a way that we can deliver the best value for both the customers who use the buses and the taxpayers.”

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When asked about the current state of the city’s bus network, Mayor of Wagga Wagga Dallas Tout acknowledged that the number of people using public transport in the region wasn’t where it needed to be and that the services could be built upon.

“It’s about making public transport appealing,” Cr Tout said.

“It’s about making sure the necessary routes are there, that stops are on time and making things as accessible as possible. I think the discussion of EFTPOS is really critical; the biggest feedback I get in Wagga is that ‘It’s great that I can use the bus, but I don’t carry cash and I can’t use my card’.

“So I think when that trial is rolled out, buses will become more appealing and I think you will find that the pickup of people using the buses will increase.”

When asked when Wagga could expect an electronic ticketing trial, Ms Aitchison was unable to give a timeframe.

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