Residents of North Balgowlah and Seaforth remain dissatisfied with proposed changes to bus services announced by Transport for NSW (TFNSW).

Services in the area changed in January, replaced by the 172X from Warringah Mall to the city. Residents said the new route operating at an increased frequency through back streets at North Balgowlah and Seaforth was causing a bus ‘face off’ with multiple buses trying to navigate narrow residential roads such as Urunga Street at the same time.

TFNSW has proposed changes that will see a maximum of five buses per hour operating in Urunga Street. This will be achieved by commencing some 172X services from Seaforth and the Wakehurst Parkway. Additionally, the previous 168X service would be reinstated during peak periods, operating via Bangaroo Street and Brook Road.

The proposed adjustments would keep the 172X as the main bus route for the North Balgowlah and Seaforth area, but reduce the number of 172X services operating via Urunga Street. According to TFNSW, the changes also deliver faster journeys for North Balgowlah customers by reintroducing the previous 168X service.

According to a spokesperson for TFNSW the changes respond to resident concerns over the number of buses operating along Urunga Street, while at the same time ensuring local customers enjoy faster journeys to the city.

“The proposed changes would result in a maximum of five buses operating via the Urunga Street area in the busiest hour of both the morning and afternoon peak periods, which is a substantial reduction from the current timetable.

“Transport for NSW arrived at the proposed adjustments after meeting with local community representatives to discuss a number of potential options. We believe the proposal gets the balance right, responding to community concerns, while also ensuring those customers who rely on the 172X as an option to get to the city, particularly in the morning peak. We also need to ensure we are providing enough capacity in the area for school student travel,” said the TFNSW spokesperson.

To further reduce the potential for roadway congestion on the 172X via Urunga Street, TFNSW said they would minimise using bendy buses for the route.

James Griffin

James Griffin

Member for Manly James Griffin has urged local residents with an interest in the changes to respond to the public consultation process.

“I have lobbied TFNSW for months to bring about changes to the North Balgowlah bus services. I want to see changes that will benefit my community and rectify the issues that appeared following the new timetable.

“I’ll continue to back my community and demand we get improvements to the bus network. I encourage residents to review the options that TFNSW have uploaded to the website and use this feedback period to communicate what they’d like to see as these issues are resolved.

“The reinstatement of the 168X is a good outcome. So is removing buses from Urunga street to a level that residents find acceptable. An effective bus network is something we all want,” said Mr Griffin.

Sarah Grattan

Sarah Grattan

Northern Beaches Councillor Sarah Grattan said she was pleased changes were being considered but the consultation process had been inadequate.

“Council weren’t informed which was interesting. Council are undertaking an independent safety audit of the buses through Balgowlah at the moment. The community are grateful that some changes are being proposed, but are frustrated at the level of consultation. They were supposed to come back with some ideas but they’ve ploughed ahead and done it without follow up conversations with the community or Council,” said Cr Grattan.

North Balgowlah resident Stephen Tilston supported Cr Grattan’s view that consultation on the proposed changes had been poor and said the changes do not address the substance of the issues they have raised.

Stephen Tilston

Stephen Tilston

“This proposal doesn’t go far enough. We were cut off from consultation in March when Transport for NSW no longer wanted to talk with us about this. The 169X which ran along Wakehurst Parkway was the most popular bus in all of North Balgowlah and Seaforth.

“This proposal is not what the community action group came up with. They went their own way. The 172X services that will start from Wakehurst Parkway are wholly inadequate.

“It’s not replacing what we lost with the 169X. They are starting the 172X on Wakehurst Parkway at Lister Street, missing all the people before that. It needs to start near Kirkwood Street.

“There needs to be a redistribution of the 172X. We don’t need to add services, we need to redistribute them smarter to pick up more people at different points to make up for what we lost with the 168 and 169.

“The bus corridor through the middle of the suburb ruined everyone’s lives. Those roads are not suitable for that volume of traffic. We’re waiting for the independent traffic report Council is preparing, we are confident that will support our position,” said Mr Tilston.

Feedback on the proposed changes can be sent to [email protected] by Friday, 14 May 2021.

Image: Northern Beaches Advocate