A controversial bus layover site is set to be moved away from residents' heritage-listed homes next month, but long-term plans for laying over buses from frequent Keolis Downer routes remains unclear.
Newcastle City Traffic Committee met for the second time this week on Thursday to continue talks regarding a bus layover site in Church Street. It followed a meeting on Monday when Transport for NSW proposed splitting bus layovers between the Church Street site and other locations.
But the traffic committee, consisting of City of Newcastle, Roads and Maritime Services, Newcastle police and MP Tim Crakanthorp, are understood to have decided to approve a new, temporary layover in Bolton Street, scrap the Church Street site and work towards a future layover in Watt Street.
While plans are yet to be finalised, the Newcastle Herald understands the Bolton Street layover site could begin operating by mid-March, which would be a welcome relief for Church Street residents who have lodged multiple complaints to Newcastle Transport operator Keolis Downer ever since buses began stopping outside their homes last November.
Transport for NSW and Keolis Downer opted not to return to the old layover site next to the The Station after the Newcastle 500. Buses shifted from the layover for Supercars to use the area, and while other bus companies returned after the race, Keolis Downer opted to stay at Church Street.
Residents have spoken of poor consultation before the move and the impacts of noise, fumes, lights and oil spills at the site ever since.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said on Friday the traffic committee discussion was a "constructive meeting" but did not provide detail on the new plans.
"Transport for NSW and Keolis Downer worked collaboratively at traffic committee to consider future plans for the layover of buses travelling into the Newcastle CBD," said the spokesperson, who also added buses would continue to run into CBD long term, despite speculation they could terminate at the Wickham bus interchange when it opens in 2020.
"Buses will continue to run east of Newcastle Interchange after the new bus interchange is complete and will complement the light rail route to provide access to the east of Newcastle."
The comments, while vague, indicate a permanent layover site will likely be needed, given three Keolis Downer frequent bus routes terminate in Bolton Street before beginning runs back the other way after layovers.
Church Street resident Keran Davis said the lack of information was staggering.
"They're dragging the chain at every interval," she said.
"They've been so tardy and uncommunicative that we don't really have any faith in what they say. We'll believe it when we see it. We're getting so sick of it. We hope the [Rail, Tram and Bus Union] will join with us.
"Everything they're doing is reactive, none of it is proactive. They've known this was going to happen since the light rail was first discussed.
"None of it is long term, it's all short term. It's musical layovers. They do not know the meaning of long-term planning."
Newcastle council opted not to make comment.