AN Orange-based bus company has sought legal advice to fight the state government’s move to begin a daily rail commuter service from Bathurst to Sydney.
Australia Wide Coaches managing director Richard Dawes said the business would cop a hit from the lost patronage expected when the train service comes online in October.
“They [lawyers] have stated that I’ve got a good case,” he said.
“It’s really very upsetting.”
He said the government’s decision may force him to cut the service from Orange.
“It may affect the ongoing financial viability of a 25-year service,” he said.
Mr Dawes said Orange passengers supported the service but he also relied on patronage from Bathurst.
The company cannot compete with the fares of the low-cost train service as it receives no government subsidies.
“I’m furious with the local politicians,” he said.
“We had a meeting with federal member for Calare John Cobb and [state member for Bathurst] Paul Toole... and [the concerns] have all gone unanswered.
“I’m really disappointed there was no consultation prior to the announcement.”
Mr Cobb said commuters were lucky to have alternative services for daily travel to Sydney to meet differing needs.
“From the public’s point of view, competition is good and this has only come about because the public were crying out for it,” he said.
Mr Dawes suggested the state government could buy seats on the coach service and “give them away” at $2.50 to commuters.
“As far as coaches are concerned it’s quicker, it’s more comfortable and it departs Bathurst at a much more reasonable hour,” he said.
“It was an election promise but the government is trying to save money ... and they go and spend $7 million to refurbish a train.”
Mr Dawes said if he was forced to cut the service it would impact on the local depot and drivers.
“We’ve invested in a $600,000 coach, we’ve got an online reservation system and we’ve extended the service to the airport,” he said.
Mr Dawes said a similar train service in the past was ended because of lack of patronage.
“Based on the numbers we might only get about eight to 10 people [on the Bathurst to Sydney coach service],” he said.
He said the $1million per year running costs for the train service could pay for three coach services from Bathurst to Sydney each day.
A spokesman for Transport NSW said the department was happy to discuss specific issues with the operator.