January 22, 2014
A strategy to ensure the South Burnett continues to be serviced by a regular bus run after June was discussed at a meeting in Kingaroy on Tuesday afternoon.
The meeting, held at the South Burnett Council Chambers, was attended by about a dozen people, including representatives from the South Burnett and Cherbourg councils, local businesspeople and welfare groups.
Also in attendance was Ian Mitchell, the managing director of Brisbane Bus Lines, who announced in November that his company would be discontinuing its Brisbane-Murgon-Brisbane run from February 1 this year as it was no longer economically viable.
After public dismay, the South Burnett Regional Council voted to subsidise the run until June 30 as a stop-gap measure until alternative solutions to the problem were found.
Today’s meeting provided an opportunity for local businesses and community groups to detail exactly why the bus run is important to the region.
South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann said the meeting had gathered feedback from the community about who is using the service, and why.
He said one of the participants, Maree Anderson from Murgon’s Graham House Community Centre, had gone as far as surveying people at bus stops.
SBRC Economic Development Manager Phil Harding would now collate all the information gathered to prepare a submission “as soon as possible” to the State Government.
Mayor Kratzmann said he would take the submission to local MPs Deb Frecklington and Jeff Seeney as the first step of a campaign to gain government support for the service.
Mr Mitchell said it was a “good meeting” and he was keen to see a good outcome for the community.
However, he would not comment on whether he believed the State Government would put the route out to tender as a subsidised run: “It’s pure speculation, it’s anybody’s guess.”
He also would not be drawn on whether his company would put in a bid for the run if it was.
“We’re a bus company. We run buses,” he said.
South Burnett Regional Council has approached Cherbourg, Toowoomba and Somerset councils to chip in towards the cost of the interim subsidy which is keeping the run going.
Mayor Kratzmann said Cherbourg had been “very, very supportive” and he expected to hear back from them next week; he also planned to speak to Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio and Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann soon.