JEMMA BUTI, MEGAN LACK & KARINA VAKIL
Although a new express coach from Ellenbrook to the city has been lauded by locals, a sustainability expert says it is not a long-term solution to the outer suburb’s transport woes.
Ellenbrook, in Perth’s outer north, has been an established suburb for more than 20 years but lacks the modern public transport system other northern suburbs possess.
The Company ‘busbee’ founded by Ellenbrook resident John Hurley has attracted 200 registered users since its conception just three weeks ago.
While the business does not yet have the desired amount of costumers it needs, Mr Hurley says that in time the service will increase as customers realise the commuting time on public transport into the CBD can be halved.
Mr Hurley says the State Government was spending millions of dollars on bus lanes but if his business could take more cars off the road it wouldn’t be needed as much.
“Main Roads website has 55,000 cars a day travelling off of Gnangara Road down Alexander Drive, Lord Street, Beechboro Road and Hepburn Avenue East,” he says.
“Now they’re not all going to Perth but some are, so if we can take those cars of the road we can just freeze up congestion, freeze up traffic, decrease its road rage, carbon emissions, the whole lot.
“The government doesn’t have to have such a huge responsibility on public transport, they need to anyway but we can take the load off a little bit.”
Curtin University Professor of Sustainabilty Peter Newman says private buses are not the solution to Ellenbrook’s transport.
“There is a lot more urban development occurring around that area and what we need is a railway system,” he says.
“A bus system can not compete with a train that can take 600 people at faster speeds.
“I just had a briefing with the Labor Party and they seem quite committed to a fast rail.”
Labor Shadow Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti was contacted for comment.
Professor Newman says that the private bus service is. environmentally. a drop in the bucket.
“I’ll be surprised if they get 10 to 20 people, what we need is 50,000 people,” he says.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transport says managing congestion requires a balanced approach.
“Effectively managing congestion requires an integrated, multi-level approach between government, industry and the community,” the spokesperson said.
“A balanced approach, utilising all modes of transport is also required.”
Local residents have expressed dissatisfaction at the public transport in the area.
Ellenbrook local Katie Offer says the number of bus services to and from the area are inadequate.
“Buses on Sunday are ridiculous, we have to wait half an hour to an hour [for service],” she says.
Ms Offer says despite the higher cost of busbee she would be inclined to use it.
“I’ll probably try it some day,” she says.
“It’s better than the buses.
“It would be a lot more comfortable.”
Ellenbrook resident Yaz Wildy says she’s very impressed with the busbee service.
“The service is fantastic and it’s a personal service as well, it’s a nice safe way to travel,” she says.
“Ellenbrook is wanting for public transport.
“There was the promise of the train line that never happened, the promise of the express bus services that never happened, and I think it’s just the answer.”
So far, the busbee service runs the 27km route to the CBD twice in the morning and twice back to Ellenbrook in the afternoon.
“Eventually we want to increase our services and possibly have a bus that runs all day but we need numbers first,” Mr Hurley says.
The average Transperth adult fare for a return ticket from Ellenbrook to Bassendean on the a bus, then to Perth Underground on a train costs $11 and takes roughly 56 minutes.
For an extra $7, busbee services go from Ellenbrook shopping centre to Beaufort Street in Perth City and take roughly 30 to 35 minutes.
The service works in a similar way to Uber with costumers registering to an app and booking trips online.
The two buses Mr Hurley has rented off charter service Horizons West hold 66 passengers.