AvonLink future in doubt?

Supporting the service: The community came out in droves to celebrate the official AvonLink trial launch opening in December 2014.

Supporting the service: The community came out in droves to celebrate the official AvonLink trial launch opening in December 2014.

There is speculation the AvonLink train service between Northam and Perth will be stopped after the two-and-a-half year trial comes to an end on June 30. 

The $6.6 million trial was funded by Royalties for Regions in 2014 and put in place as a last effort to save the service after previous governments had attempted to close the line and start a bus service.

The trial saw an increase in services from 10 per week in 2013 to 28 per week in December 2014.

The Public Transport Authority 2015-16 Annual Report states this has increased the gross patronage however the average amount of passengers per service has dropped to 15 per cent and will fall short of the targets set in the business case for the operation of the trial.

Labor MP for the Agricultural Region Darren West said he was supportive of the trial but “the disappointing results once again threatened the future of the service”.

"The Avonlink costs taxpayers over $10 000 per day and runs at less than 10% capacity,” he said.

“It seems that locals want the AvonLink to continue but very few actually use the service, there are less and less of us getting on board.

“Maybe it’s time to take a fresh approach to public transport services to the Avon Valley.”

Mr West said he would be working with the community and government to ensure Avon Valley residents have appropriate public transport options to and from the metropolitan area. 

Central wheatbelt MP Mia Davies said she strongly supported the regional service. 

“As a former chair of the Wheatbelt Development Commission, Mr West should be ashamed that he is now advocating for the removal of a key transport link for the region,” she said.

“The government heavily subsidises public transport in the Perth area, yet it would seem different rules apply for regional services. 

“Losing the AvonLink service will disadvantage our elderly, those with disabilities, our youth and those unable to drive.

Northam Shire chief executive officer Jason Whiteaker said he and shire president Steven Pollard have been reinforcing the importance of the AvonLink to the new government.

Mr Whiteaker said he understood the government was in the process of looking to save money, but this should not be to the detriment of the Avon region.

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