Jim Glasson, the Director General of the Ministry of Transport, was the guest speaker at the regular Institute for Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) transport seminar at Sydney University.
"Local bus stops are largely the responsibility of Local Government and it's true that they have been lagging well behind in their duty to provide bus stop infrastructure, particularly with regard to making the bus stops meet the DDA [Disability Discrimination Act] legislation. The Ministry has funded the bus stop infrastructure on the strategic corridors and that has been going in" said Mr Glasson.
I asked what Mr Glasson thought about the idea that someone like the Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation should be responsible for all bus stop infrastructure but Mr Glasson was unimpressed with that idea. "It doesn't solve the problem of the money. The State won't pay for all those bus stops. They are the responsibility of Local Government".
There are more than 10,300 bus stops in Western Sydney and many of them are indistinguishable from a rubbish bin or a telegraph pole (see our bus stop photos on this blog). And many of them certainly aren't compliant with the disability legislation - they don't have a level 'launch pad' (a flat, concrete kerbside at the correct hieght) from where you can board the bus that is connected to the pavement. A decent bus stop is clearly marked, has shelter, has good timetable and routemap information and a DDA compliant 'launch pad' .
It would also be pretty good if the bus stops had their bus stop numbers on them so that people could take advantage of the 131500 bus stop information services that are already available.
It's clear that a circuit-breaker is needed for this discussion. The State doesn't want to pay for the bus stops and neither does Local Government, even though it is supposedly their responsibility. If we want to develop a well patronised bus system we need to find a way to fund the provision of decent bus stops in Western Sydney. Someone has to pay, but how do we work out who and answer the terrible question "Where's the money coming from?"