Commuters are sick of waiting

Coolum resident Ruby Baxter who constantly uses buses is frustrated with the poor public transport record of the popular Coast village.  Photo: Barry Leddicoat / 174523e
Coolum resident Ruby Baxter who constantly uses buses is frustrated with the poor public transport record of the popular Coast village. Photo: Barry Leddicoat / 174523e

A typical day in the life of Ruby Baxter involves waiting for public and private transport in Coolum. Like most locals, catching a taxi or bus is a lengthy and frustrating exercise.

But as a Mount Coolum resident without a car, the 20-year-old is forced to bite her lip and deal with the aggravation. However, Ruby said she was beginning to lose her patience.

After waiting up to three hours for a taxi on weekends and missing buses that failed to meet schedule, Ruby is fed up.

“It’s so unreliable and so dangerous,” she said.

Ruby said it was particularly dangerous on a weekend night for women.

“You’re waiting in the dark with drunken people walking around, fights breaking out, and people are in your face. That’s stuff I don’t really want to be around,” she said.

What was even more concerning for Ruby was seeing people under the influence of alcohol get behind the wheel.

“Lots of people would rather drink drive than have to wait for a taxi,” she said.

“Taxis need to improve. If there were more it would solve half our problems.”

However, the Sunshine Coast’s only taxi company Suncoast Cabs owner Clark Chappel said they had met the time response target to meet 85% of calls within 10 minutes.

 “There was a (Queensland Transport) review in August 2007 of the numbers of taxis required to meet target that found we are on target at 105%,” he said.

Mr Chappel said Suncoast Cabs had a total of 111 taxis from Caloundra to Noosa and said extended waiting periods could be due to the fact the most cabs were taken out of Coolum into the main population centres such as Noosa, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba and Caloundra to meet demand.

“What happens is we get a lot of bookings that takes cars out and it takes a while to get back,” he said.

 Mr Chappel said cabs that were taken out of Coolum were replaced by other cabs moving past.

“We see jobs holding and as taxis come to those areas, we respond to them accordingly,” he said.

Mr Chappel said his business was regulated by Queensland Transport, which decided whether Suncoast Cabs needed more taxis. Queensland Transport was not available for comment.

On the bus front, Ruby said services were few and far in between.

 “There’s one bus for all these people late at night then you have to wait an hour for the next bus,” she said. “You have to be at the bus station half an hour early in case they come early because they never come when they say they are going to come.”

As hard as it was getting to Maroochydore or Noosa from Coolum, Ruby said it was even more difficult catching a bus to Nambour.

“You can’t get from here to Nambour directly,” she said.

Sunshine Coast public bus service Sunbus Depot manager Bob Carney said the company was moving about 300,000 passengers a month. Mr Carney said routes and schedules were assessed by Translink, which aimed to provide public transport to 95% of the population.

“It’s government regulated and they (Translink) set route times and we just do what they ask us to do,” he said.

Though Translink failed to comment, Mr Carney said the current timetable would be assessed according to passenger numbers mid-year. He said it would have been seven years since the last time the schedule was updated in Coolum.

But Mr Carney said services had improved out of sight since he began operating on Sunbus 12 years ago.

Sunshine Coast Regional Council Division 9 Councillor Vivien Griffin said she had put in an application to Translink to provide a direct bus route from Coolum to Nambour.

Tell us what you think and send a letter to CoolumNews@ or PO Box 1008, Coolum, 4557.


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