Griffith’s bus network will be given a boost next month as the NSW Government pushes to improve regional access to public transport.
Transport for NSW announced that services will increase by 30 per cent from 18 September, including improved access to the city’s hospitals, but services remain cash-only.
“There will be 77 extra services per week, simpler and more regular timetables, better connections to hospitals in Griffith, new services on Sundays and public holidays, and new services for Griffith’s growing suburbs,” Transport for NSW Acting Regional Director South Brendon James said.
“Transport for NSW has worked with Griffith City Council and the community, asking people what they wanted. The result is a better, smarter bus network for all of Griffith that will better meet people’s needs to get to medical appointments, work, shops and social events.
“These improvements will make a real difference to Griffith residents and visitors with services designed to meet population demand, better connections to health services and greater coverage on weekends.”
The increased access is part of the NSW Government’s 16 Regional Cities Services Improvement Program to deliver better public transport for the regions.
The program promises a “simpler and more efficient public transport network that considers the needs of local communities”, and upgrades have already been delivered to the Riverina/Murray centres of Wagga Wagga and Albury.
In July 2020, a raft of additional bus services was rolled out in Griffith, but uptake floundered as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
In May 2023, the new Labor Government established a Bus Industry Taskforce to make recommendations to improve the quality and reliability of services.
The first report, released this month, made seven recommendations, including the establishment of a long-term growth funding program for “underserved communities” and for “activities to improve rural and regional contracting, including engaging with industry to develop a modern, fit-for-purpose contract model”.
To help with engagement, a Travel Experience Day will be held next week to help people familiarise themselves with the public transport system and practise getting on and off buses.
Government and local spokespeople will be on hand to offer advice, particularly for those with disabilities and mobility challenges who may be less confident about using buses.
One challenge faced by public transport users in the Riverina that remains unaddressed is the need to carry cash to use government services.
While cash is almost entirely phased out in metropolitan areas and replaced with tap-on, tap-off technology, the regions continue to fall behind.
Transport for NSW confirmed to Region that some cashless trials are underway, but there is no timeline for when the technology will be implemented.
The changes to be rolled out next month include a new bus route linking South Griffith and Pioneer directly with the Griffith Hospital precinct, and bus services to St Vincent’s Private Community Hospital.
Residential services in Collina and South Griffith will be expanded and there will be new connections to the Griffith Regional Sports Centre and Griffith Exies Sports Club.
Middle-of-day weekday services to Yenda, Beelbangera, Yoogali, Bilbul, Hanwood and Darlington Point will be increased and a new school holiday service added for Darlington Point and Hanwood.