'Useless' booking system blamed for axing of shire's on-demand buses

The most frequent complaint about the axed on-demand bus service in Sutherland Shire was the "booking system simply did not work", State Parliament has been told.

"There is clearly a theme - Transdev failed to deliver a product that could adequately book local residents onto the service repeatedly over 24 months," Miranda MP Eleni Petinos said.

"In addition, there was poor promotion of the service.

"Our community deserves so much better.

"Furthermore, this is not an isolated failure. The Manly on-demand bus trial, also delivered by Transdev, had similar technological failings and also ceased earlier this year."

The criticism by Ms Petinos, who is also Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads, echoed comments made by Cronulla MP and Attorney-General Mark Speakman after the announcement the service would end on November 17.

Transdev, which has other state government contracts, offered no comment on the reasons for the service's demise.

Responding to the MPs' claims, Transdev's chief officer bus operations, Ian Craig, said the "on demand team has been proud to be a part of the Sutherland community for the past two years, delivering a trial that was highly valued by members of the local community and enjoyed high customer satisfaction."

"Transdev remains committed to developing new, innovative transport solutions that are socially responsible, and create more convenient and personalised options for people to move around their communities," he said.

"As evidence of our commitment, this week Transdev, in partnership with Transport for NSW, launched a new trial in Sutherland Shire providing a high frequency 'Turn Up and Go' bus link between Lilli Pilli Point and Caringbah Station."

Ms Petinos read comments she received from some customers who found the service invaluable and others who complained the booking system was "useless".

An elderly customer, Dionyssia, told how the service had enabled her to regain her independence and mobility.

"Stopping the on-demand service will now mean that at 84, I will become house bound, relying on family to take me out," she said.

Dionyssia had said she "found this service to be invaluable for people of my age and ailments".

"The bus drivers have treated me with great care, understanding and patience," she said.

"They also help passengers on and off the bus as they need it."

Ms Petinos said another user, Anthony, "found the service life-changing following an accident, traumatic brain injury and subsequent legal blindness".

"Anthony has written that the service allows him to remain an integral part of his family," she said.

"Similarly, Syd and Judith, a retired elderly couple utilised the on-demand bus trial as it serviced a gap in the existing public transport network."

However, "Transdev's technological shortcomings often prevented potential passengers from booking a ride," the MP said.

One prospective customer, Anita, had complained the app was "utterly useless when it rejects your booking but doesn't tell you".

"Couldn't choose a hub the first time I tried either. Deleted the app and will never bother again," Anita wrote.

Ms Petinos said another prospective customer, Tim had stated the booking system was, 'useless".

"[It] says select a hub on the map. The blue dot is my location, no hubs? " he wrote.

"[Another user] Greg considers the app to have dramatically impacted on patronage statistics, stating that, 'The Booking App frequently rejects a trip requested in a busy period and the system doesn't advise what other times are available. Rather, it invites the user to attempt a booking at another time. In my experience further booking attempts around my travel time in a busy period are almost always rejected.' "

Ms Petinos said the trial was about personalising the transport experience for local residents.

"We know that people want to manage their own time and become less reliant on timetables, which is why on demand public transport services are designed to arrive when and where people need them most," she said.

"Furthermore, by coming right to the customer's front door and delivering them to their desired hub, whether it be for transport, hospitals, schools or even Westfield, the on-demand bus trial empowered many local residents, providing a new-found mobility and independence."

Ms Petinos said this form of transport was "undoubtedly the way of the future".

"It is my hope that when the re-tendering of the local bus franchise is done that an on-demand service is included and that the provider does not merely pay lip-service to delivering it," she said.