Updated | Final decision on shire's on-demand buses to be made at end of November

Updated

The on-demand bus service in Sutherland Shire is guaranteed to continue for only another five months.

A reprieve, announced by Cronulla MP and Attorney-General Mark Speakman on the weekend, will last only until the end of November after which a final decision will be made, based on patronage figures.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance intervened after patrons were told Transdev Link buses would stop running this week.

Mr Constance said in a statement on Monday on-demand bus services were "a fantastic way to connect people to other public transport and essential services such as shops and medical appointments".

"Once I heard about concern from the community about the proposed conclusion of the Transdev Link on-demand trial in Sutherland Shire, I was pleased to be able to extend it for at least another five months," he said.

"I hope more members of the community take advantage of the service so that we can continue it beyond November."

A spokeswoman for Transport for NSW said the Sutherland Shire pilot would be be evaluated prior to November 18, 2019.

"The learnings will be used to develop and implement on-demand services as part of improved future integrated transport networks in Sutherland Shire," she said.

"Continuation of the Sutherland on demand trial after November will depend on the patronage."

Updated

Sutherland Shire's popular on-demand bus service will continue - at least in the short term.

Cronulla MP and Attorney-General Mark Speakman announced the reprieve after calling on on Transport Minister Andrew Constance to intervene to save the service, which has been a godsend for many older residents.

Patrons were told last week the service was being axed.

"I'm grateful to Andrew Constance for securing the continuation of the service," Mr Speakman said.

"It's still a trial, so those (including me) who want the service will need to promote it, to grow its patronage to secure its longer term future."

Updated

Mark Speakman has asked Transport Minister Andrew Constance to intervene urgently to save Sutherland Shire's popular on-demand buses, which face the axe.

Transport issued an ominous statement late on Friday stating it was "currently assessing the future of the Sutherland pilot ahead of any announcement".

Mr Speakman, the MP for Cronulla and Attorney-General, who has been a strong supporter of the service, said, "Before constituents contacted me this week, I was unaware of any suggested decision to cease the service".

"It comes as a shock, particularly after the January expansion. I have asked the Transport Minister to intervene urgently to prevent any cessation."

Earlier

The state government appears ready to axe Sutherland Shire's popular on-demand buses.

Transport for NSW issued an ominous statement about the Transdev Link service late on Friday after two Miranda residents contacted the Leader.

"We are two very regulars customers on the Transdev bus door to door service," the residents wrote.

"We are very hurt to hear they are finishing next week.

"We can't go to the doctors anymore. We can't get to physio anymore, or shops.

"It's also taking away all our friendship. We want Transdev bus door to door service back please."

After questions from the Leader, Transport for NSW issued a statement which said:

"Transport for NSW has been trialling a range of on-demand models across Sydney, Newcastle and the Illawarra to learn as much as possible about providing flexible transport services with data from the program to be used to inform improvements across the entire network.

"The learnings from all pilots, including the Transdev Link pilot, will be used to develop and implement improved future transport networks, including in Sutherland Shire.

"Transport for NSW is currently assessing the future of the Sutherland pilot ahead of any announcement.

"Existing bus services operate in the area, providing regular route services in the area covered by Transdev Link services. Key bus routes in the area include:

  • Route 477 Miranda to Rockdale via Taren Point.
  • Routes 961/962 Miranda to Barden Ridge and East Hills via Sutherland and Menai.
  • Routes 970/971 South Cronulla and Miranda to Hurstville via Sylvania.

A spokesman declined to answer a follow-up question on when an announcement would be made.

The trial of on-demand buses in the shire started in October 2017.

The pilot was supposed to be for six months but was extended, with the shire said to be one of the most successful areas.

After about six months, Transdev said about 600 trips a week were being provided and the number had increased by about 18 per cent a week since the start.

The service had been life changing for some people, particularly the elderly, the company said.

In January this year, state MPs joined in announcing the four zones in the shire had been converted into one, with coverage extended to more suburbs.

Last year, the state opposition questioned the cost.

Figures released under Freedom of Information revealed the cost of running the services in the shire was more than half a million dollars for the first six months.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance replied that the data on which the claim was made was out of date and the trial had seen one of the fastest uptakes of on-demand services in the world.