On-demand bus trial begins in Karuah and Swan Bay

2 August 2022

Port Stephens Council has secured $93,560 from the NSW Government to trial an on-demand community bus service for Karuah.

Mayor Ryan Palmer says the 2 year trial will help locals re-connect with friends and re-explore the town centre after years of pandemic-induced lockdowns.

"This new service allows community members access to transport right from their door step to attend social events and appointments with increased convenience and flexibility – something not often possible in regional areas, unless you have access to private transport,” Mr Palmer said.

“The trial is a huge win for the residents of Karuah who can now enjoy improved connections to retail hubs, cafes, restaurants and entertainment, and other services such as postal, banking, or health care,” he added.

New CEO of Karuah RSL Club Chris Fraser, said that the RSL Club is in full support of the project and looks forward to facilitating and running the Karuah Konnect service.

“The bus is available to pick residents up from their home and drop them in town at the Karuah Centre, where they can participate in classes being held or enjoy a complimentary tea and coffee while interacting with friendly volunteers,” Mr Fraser said.

“Using our existing courtesy buses under the guise of Karuah Konnect, we’re operating on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 2pm, picking people up from their houses and then dropping them home again after their time in the village centre,” he added.

Council’s Strategy and Environment Section Manager Brock Lamont says the new initiative aligns with Council’s recently endorsed Karuah Place Plan, designed to improve liveability, increase wellbeing and deliver economic growth to create more vibrant places for people to connect, discover and enjoy with their community.

“The Karuah community played a pivotal role in developing and refining the final Karuah Place Plan during the consultation phases. At the time, they identified two main priorities including ‘Access to neighbourhood amenities’ and ‘Access and safety of walking, cycling and/or public transport’,” Mr Lamont said.

“Due to the smaller population of Karuah, a regular transport service isn’t available. This grant from Transport for NSW allows us to fill this service gap until the population of Karuah grows and a regular service can be implemented.

“We know this is important to our community, and we’re proud to support the delivery of the Karuah Konnect service to support improved movement, creating connected communities,” he added.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said this funding helps to encourage new and innovative ways to provide flexible public transport services to improve connections in regional areas.

“This $93,560 funding from the Transport Access Regional Partnerships Grants Program means people in Karuah can get a service from their home to the shops or appointments in a flexible and convenient way,” Minister Farraway said.

The trial commences today and runs for 2 years. The cost to catch the Karuah Konnect is a gold coin donation, which will be invested back into the program. Bookings can be made by calling The Karuah Centre on 4987 0002.