Is the new express bus service viable for workers?
WITH the new Byron Bay to Lismore express service being the talk of the town for those commuting to and from work, I thought I would give it a go myself.
With the service leaving from Jonson St at 7.20am, I needed to find a way to get into town before then to locate the bus stop I needed.
Lucky for me, my housemate offered to drop me into the CBD at 7am on his way to work, therefore I had to wake up and be ready an hour earlier than I usually would.
Having never used a bus service on the Northern Rivers, I turned to my handy Tripview app to make sure I had the right stop - which turned out to be counterproductive and took me to the wrong side of the road and wrong bus stop.
I then pulled out my printed timetable, which proved to be much more useful and finally found my stop, with 10 minutes to spare.
The bus arrived at 7.22am, I paid my $6.60 for my one-way trip to Goonellabah and off we went.
I thought I'd taken the express service, which only stopped at the appointed stops on the timetable, but to my great surprise the bus pulled over on Bangalow Rd - outside the Byron Bay Health Lodge - to pick up a passenger who had hailed down the bus.
This happened to be closer to my home, so I was a little confused and annoyed but also relieved to know that in future I would be able to hail down the service rather than get a lift into the CBD.
The trip proceeded on schedule to Suffolk Park, Lennox Head and Ballina with only me and one other passenger.
At East Ballina another passenger boarded the bus but only stayed on for one stop before she hopped off at the Ballina bus station.
I then arrived at the Goonellabah stop at Kadina park, right on schedule.
However, I did have to call a work colleague to come pick me up so I would make it to work on time.
After clocking off from work at 5pm, a colleague offered to drop me at the bus stop a few minutes down the road.
I was pleasantly surprised to find two passengers already on board when the bus arrived at 5.30pm.
I paid my $6.60 for a ticket but next time will get a return ticket for $12, or a weekly pass for $36 if I fancy taking the bus for a few more days.
It was an easy ride for most of the journey, while only making one "official" stop at West Ballina for one of the passengers to hop off the bus.
By the time the bus arrived in Byron, at 6.30pm, I was relieved.
Not because it was a rough trip or unpleasant - it was all round a great trip and an extremely cost-effective way to get to commute to work - but because by catching the bus to and from work it tacked on an extra hour of travel time on each side of my day.
Overall, though, I think more people should be using the service the State Government has provided for the next six months - certainly more than the four people I met on my travels.