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Valley cut from bus service

A BUS service, taking tourists and commuters through the Derwent Valley, along the route from Hobart to the West Coast will be cut from March 10 forcing travellers to do a circumnavigation of Tasmania.

Incredibly there will be no direct connection between the West Coast and Hobart. The current three day a week service connecting to Hobart to the West Coast through the Derwent Valley will cease.

A new seven day a week return service between the West Coast and Burnie, with onward connections to Devonport, Launceston and Hobart, is due to start on March 10.

Kim Valentine, who runs Jackson’s Emporium a café and accommodation business in Hamilton, said she is concerned about the tourism impact on the area

“What about people, such as backpackers, who want to go to Lake St Clair, or stop off along the way in the Derwent Valley,” Mrs Valentine said

“I’ve already heard people going from Queenstown to Hobart will go via Launceston. It’s crazy and it cuts us out.”

A spokeswoman from the Department of State Growth said over the next week State Growth will conduct a further review of the changes before any implementation.

“We will continue to listen to community about the new services and will make adjustments where necessary,” she said.

“A new Area Connect service has also been introduced to allow passengers from Hamilton and Ouse (including Ellendale and Glenora) to travel to Hobart and back in the same day, which was not possible under the previous service.

“The Department has consulted closely with the community on this Area Connect Service to ensure it will best meet community needs.”

However, Mrs Valentine said the new Area service will only run two days a week on Monday and Tuesday and won’t run on public holidays.

The new service leaves Ouse Roadhouse on Monday and Tuesday at 9am and New Norfolk bus station at 10am for transfer for connection services to Glenorchy and Hobart. The bus then leaves New Norfolk at 2.51pm heading back to Ouse via Rosegarland and Hamilton.

 “I won’t be using the new service because it doesn’t link to what I need,” Mrs Valentine said.

“We were told the change is based on statistics but have also been told those statistics are wrong and we can’t use our green bus card. It’s just not right, it’s not on.”

The spokeswoman said public forums had been held in Ellendale, Glenora and Hamilton.

“These services are based on the significant work undertaken by TasCoss with the community in this area,” the spokeswoman said.

Further information is available from http://areaconnect.org.au/

Return of a genuine express bus service on Monday from New Norfolk to Hobart has been welcomed.

New Norfolk gained an extra school bus service in the morning and afternoon from Monday,  while the 7.17am general access bus will become an Express service to improve travel times to the city. Consideration is also being given to an evening  express service during peak traffic.

These services are operated by O’Driscoll’s Coaches Derwent Valley Link.

Selina Daley of Magra, who initiated a public forum in New Norfolk so commuters could vent their concerns, said the return of the express service is a step in the right direction.

“I am glad we had our meeting. Jen Butler, Rebecca White, Craig Farrell  and David O’Byrne from Labor have been fantastic,” Mrs Daley said.

“However, there is still the issue for people with mobility and elderly issues who have to change buses and the new schedules.”

Mrs Daley said another meeting is still planned to finalise issues with the new bus timetables.

Ronee Wilson, who works in the disability and mental sector, said there hasn’t been any consideration for her clients or the elderly.

“The previous service was absolutely fine, but now the timetables for anyone with a disability or in a wheelchair is ridiculous,” Miss Wilson said.

Infrastructure Minister Jeremy Rockliff said they were making additional changes where needed.

“We are listening to communities, and we will continue to do so to ensure we get it right,” Mr Rockliff said.

New school bus route information: https://data.stategrowth.tas.gov.au/brmtrips/map.html?trip=49849476