By CLARE COLLEY
THE future of Orange’s daily coach service to Sydney hangs in the balance with the impact of Bathurst’s daily return commuter rail service still an “unknown quantity” according to the coach company’s managing director.
The new rail service, dubbed the Bathurst Bullet, is set to start in less than a week.
Australia Wide Coaches managing director Richard Dawes initially called in lawyers in an attempt to fight the introduction of the rail service which he said would affect the Orange coach service’s ongoing viability when it loses Bathurst passengers.
But now with the train set to start on October 21, he has conceded that it’s too late to stop it.
“We decided to try and work with the government and see what they could do,” he said.
“We had a meeting with [member for Orange] Andrew Gee and [member for Bathurst] Paul Toole and we haven’t had a great response but we’ve left the door open.”
Mr Dawes rejected claims his concerns were only for his business, saying he initially hoped the government would have bought seats on the coach service instead of pouring taxpayer money into refurbishing the train and the ongoing $1 million yearly running costs.
“With Rex [Regional Express air service], the XPT, and six CountryLink coaches it’s not as if people of Bathurst have never had transport options,” he said.
“I don’t understand why they need another train service when they’re 40 minutes up the road from Lithgow.”
He said the coach company may have started a second daily service to cope with increased patronage if the government had taken up seats on the bus.
“I don’t want to inconvenience the people of Orange, they have even fewer transport options,” he said.
“The people of Orange have been so supportive of the service and I hope they continue in the same vein.”
Currently the number of passengers varies from busy school holiday times when the coach is almost full to lower days when the coach may only have 30 passengers or less.
“We’ve got to take the good with the bad,” he said.
“We would love to offer cheaper fees but we don’t rely on taxpayer funds.”
Mr Dawes hopes Orange passengers will continue to value the coach’s quicker travel time and more direct route, including a direct drop-off to Sydney Airport.
Estimated time: 3hrs 30mins (depart Bathurst 6:45am - arrive Central Station 10:15am; depart Central Station 5pm - arrive Bathurst 8:35pm)
One-way fares: Bathurst to Sydney from $34; Orange to Sydney from $38
Estimated time: 3hrs 45mins (depart Bathurst 5.40am - arrive Central Station 9.25am; depart Sydney 5.55pm - arrive Bathurst 9.30pm)
Return fares: Bathurst to Sydney: Adult $11.40, pensioners $2.50, children $5.70, students $8.20