Improvements to ACTION bus services promised for April 28 will be delayed until early June or later.

The new timetable was scheduled to coincide with the beginning of the second school term.

That is now impractical, because the complex arrangements for allocating drivers’ shifts has not begun.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Department of Territory and Municipal Services said ACTION was still working towards the April deadline.

“Obviously we need enough time to ensure people get all the information correctly and that the network is finalised.”

The Minister, John Hargreaves, would make an announcement in the next few weeks, once the routes were finalised.

In late January, ACTION manager Liz Clarke said the final plan for the new network would be made public by the end of February and new timetables would be published by mid-April.

Mr Hargreaves confirmed yesterday that the new network had been delayed, saying it would begin on or after June 2.

Mr Hargreaves took over responsibility for buses in April 2006.

In less than eight months, as part of the Government’s cost cutting, ACTION’s services were slashed, leading to over-crowding, buses running late and a drop in patronage of almost 3 per cent.

In mid last year, ACTION engaged a consultant and conducted public surveys.

In November it published draft route changes for comment.

More than 2500 submissions were received, including criticism that there had been a lack of strategic planning.

It is not known what changes have been made since, though it is understood extra money will be required before the new network can begin.

Mr Hargreaves said yesterday cuts made to the service from December 4, 2006, had been a mistake.

There had been no consultation with bus drivers or passengers.

By comparison, last year’s extensive consultation had resulted in submissions which had justified alterations to 11 of 40 proposed routes.

Mr Hargreaves had met with people, particularly from O’Connor and Curtin, and had recognised their concerns were valid.

The resulting changes had required alterations to other timetables to provide adequate connections.

He expected new timetables would be published in one or two weeks.

He believed the delay was justified, saying he would “rather do it more slowly and get it right”.

The improved network would be “brand new”, not a variation on the network introduced on December 4, 2006.

By Graham Downie

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