City of Cockburn to investigate running own buses

Cockburn Central station car parking
Cockburn Central station car parking

THE viability of a council-operated bus servicing Cockburn Central and adjoining suburbs is being looked into by the City of Cockburn.

Mayor Logan Howlett said complaints stemming from a lack of parking, an increased number of illegal parking infringements and long delays exiting the precinct encouraged him to ask for a report into the possibility of the service, which would operate similar to CAT services in Fremantle, Joondalup and Perth.

“Generally bus services out of Cockburn Central are acceptable, however commuters don’t have time to sit on a bus that takes them on a milk run,” he said.

“Commuters are looking to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. For them time is of the essence.”

An initial report to council earlier this month recommended the City not pursue the trial of a fare paying shuttle bus because the Public Transport Authority already runs 10 bus routes starting or ending at Cockburn Central.

Of the 575 buses in and out of the precinct about 60 run during peak periods each morning and afternoon, meaning there is no deficiency in the current service, according to the report.

The recommendation also suggested not pushing forward because a bus service “is not a core function of the City’s business”, and initial and ongoing costs would be substantial.

But Mr Howlett said information provided in the October report only provided a “rudimentary glance” at the request and little else.

He also called for a “full and complete report” into the trial and for an online survey to gauge interest from locals in the catchment zones.

Governance and community services director Don Green defended the officer’s report.

“It’s the officer’s professional opinion that what’s in place at the moment is unlikely to change and there would be a lot of resources required for an alternative,” he said.

What has happened previously:

In 2012 the PTA said significant development at Cockburn Central was needed before a CAT style service would be beneficial.

In 2013 the idea of smaller buses servicing low-density areas was also put forward. But the PTA said there were several drawbacks including the costs of purchasing a new fleet of buses and the fact smaller busses do not lend themselves to being equipped with legally mandated safety compliance features.