1. Students at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) say the construction of Sydney’s new light rail has left them queueing in the rain for buses for over an hour.
The line for the bus to Central Station has long irritated students at UNSW in Kensington, Sydney. But construction and service changes linked to the eastern suburbs light rail project have taken things to a whole new level, students say.
The new university year has seen daily queues stretching hundreds of metres from the bus stop on High Street into the university quadrangle each afternoon.
A survey of students last week found the average wait to just get onto a bus was between 30 minutes and an hour.
Student representatives are collecting signatures in order to present a petition to NSW parliament.
The president of the UNSW student organisation ARC, Aislinn Stein-Magee, told BuzzFeed News there used to be several buses servicing the UNSW-Central Station route, but that the light rail construction had led to changes.
“Now the only [express service] that stops directly at campus is the 891,” she said. “The rest of them, you have to walk off campus to get, and some don’t stop anywhere near UNSW.”
The 891 runs regularly during peak hour, but the sheer number of people who catch it – combined with buses running late or not turning up – has led to the long wait, Stein-Magee said.
“We really just need to see the bus services increase.”
Sydney’s inclement weather in recent weeks has made the trip home an entirely miserable experience for many students.
“We have students standing in the rain and the sun,” Stein-Magee said. “Obviously in the sun they’re getting sunburnt. In the rain, students are getting sick. They have expensive textbooks and laptops in their bags that are just getting soaked.”
Last week students placed “891” stickers on a Hyundai wagon and used it to ferry students to and from Central Station as part of the campaign.
A spokesperson for transport minister Andrew Constance acknowledged traffic changes had caused bus delays.
“With the recent traffic changes in the area and the wet weather, there has been heavier traffic in the precinct which has delayed the arrival of some buses,” she said.
However, she said the light rail will be a solution to the UNSW queues. She also produced photographs showing bus queues from 2016 before light rail construction commenced.
“This investment in public transport is essential to combat the [queues] and congestion UNSW students have been facing for a number of years, long before construction began.”
The spokesperson said that although the 895 service had been renumbered to 891, overall bus services were not reduced as a result of the changes.
“We thank the university and their students for their patience and assistance as we build the light rail, set to open early 2019.”
In the meantime, it’s a late arrival home for many students – especially those who live far from Kensington.
“There’s a lot of issues,” Stein-Magee said. “We have a lot of students who come from regional areas like Wollongong and the Blue Mountains.
“Their trains might only come once every half hour, or once an hour… If you’re waiting massive times in the line and then you’ve got another train to catch, or you’re in peak hour traffic, you don’t get home until really late.”