People representing public transport users in Penrith, the Hills, Oatlands, Bankstown, Chester Hill, Liverpool and the Blue Mountains met for the first time last week to discuss the creation of the WSPTU umbrella group.
This meeting was to follow-up from the Transport Symposium where people clearly said that they wanted an 'umbrella group' to support the work of people working in local groups. We wrestled with how this could work and decided to develop the idea further. We want something that can give Western Sydney public transport users a more powerful voice.
The idea of the Umbrella is to be able to identify issues which are common to many Western Sydney public transport users and to try and gather support to advocate for solutions to these issues. The issue which is most strongly represented to us is that of 'local transport'.
Older people, and people living with mobility difficulties, who have been badly effected by the Bus Network Review are looking for people to support them to get transport services in their local area that better suit their needs. People repeatedly, and with great passion, say that they want their independence and don't want to be confined to their house.
Of course other issues, such as a better mass transit system into the Hills and the need for an integrated ticketing system are also issues likely to be important to the WSPTU. We also did a brainstorm about why Community Transport isn't working as an effective local transport system for older people. Most of the WSPTU participants (many in their 80s) are too young and healthy to qualify for community transport!!
We also decided to pick up on some local issues in between meetings to see if we could progress them.
Watch this space!