Last month at the June 2021 Council meeting during a discussion about the Council Budget a Pittwater Councillor said in regard to Manly’s Hop Skip Jump bus “I’m prepared to accept if you can make the service revenue neutral then I don’t have an issue with that but I don’t see why the rest of the LGA should be subsidising the Manly residents $1.8m for buses that run parallel to government buses. It doesn’t pass any conceivable, rational test,”
NB Council runs the Hop, Skip & Jump community bus service seven days per week through the suburbs of Manly, Fairlight, Balgowlah, Balgowlah Heights, Clontarf and Seaforth. Four routes operate Monday to Friday and three routes on weekends with the bus routes interchange at Stockland Shopping Centre in Condamine Street, Balgowlah.
Recently a new route was added to Manly Vale as part of the “Manly anti-clockwise run” Monday to Friday only. No route runs parallel to government buses. The Hop skip Jump bus was originally sponsored by Stocklands, but on completion of the development at Balgowlah it fell to the former Manly Council to fund the service. It had become popular with the residents and they didn’t want to see it stopped.
A second Pittwater Councillor, who is also a Director of Easy Link Transport which provides community transports subsidised by grants, donations and individual subsidies through the Commonwealth Home Support Program and Community Transport Program as well as private customers, including those on homecare packages, and the NDIS, contributed this to the discussion. “We (Council) are losing $1.8m a year and not many of us around this table are batting an eyelid over it. I find it quite sad, we could be doing so much more with the money. There are other options and other agencies out there. We have got to look at how we spend our ratepayers’ money. When it’s inequitable and unfair it’s not on.” Approximately 13% of Easy Link ‘customers’ are resident in the Manly Ward.
Manly Ward Councillors Sarah Grattan and Candy Bingham told the meeting that the consideration of the service should be undertaken as part of a comprehensive service review. Cr Bingham conceded the service should be subject to review but said it was not just supporting Stockland.
We should expect more from our Ward Councillors, particularly as they have been very vocal on demanding the ‘saving’ of ferries and government buses.
The Hop skip jump bus is an iconic service here in Manly, well used, free to all users and popular. It does not compete with NSW buses and provides a vital service for those who don’t have a car or who can’t drive themselves as well as keeping cars out of the CBD and other popular locations on the various routes.