An independent study into transport across the Channel area could provide information needed to spur change across Kingborough’s public transportation systems and offer potentially valuable insights into the impact that a lack of accessible transport can have on employment, youth, mental health and congestion.
Social Work student Adam Penklis, who conducted the study in conjunction with the West Winds Community Centre, speaks with conviction when discussing the need for better public transport services in the Channel area and why he began work on the survey.
“Transport is the glue that binds our community together,” says Mr Penklis who has been thrilled with the quality responses received.
The survey results showed conclusively that private transport is the predominant method of travel for those in the Channel area at 94 per cent and also revealed that 51 per cent of those surveyed travel alone in their vehicle the majority of the time.
When combined with data that shows 71 per cent of respondents cite traffic congestion as a current or future concern, Mr Penklis believes it is obvious change is needed.
“The overwhelming response is that the current public transport system is not working well for the community,” Mr Penklis said.
“If council and State Government want people to take up public transport in the Channel, and the community clearly want it, the service needs to increase, with small buses at better times for the community, with initial promotion subsidisation.”
Nearly 80 per cent of those surveyed would use Park and Ride at a hub location such as Kingston or Margate if possible and close to 90 per cent would make use of a Channel-Hobart ferry service.
“The waterway is the community’s biggest asset and there is existing jetty infrastructure,” said Mr Penklis.
“It has been done before and many want it back."
Many waterside access points along the Channel exist although, Mr Penklis acknowledges most would require a level of investment to be fit for purpose.
According to Mr Penklis, more concerning is the social isolation and disconnection that a lack of accessible public transport can cause, especially among youth in the area.Ultimately, data from the survey showed that public transport or park and ride/sail would be the most preferred transport option for 70 per cent of respondents if not for the predominant issues of frequency/timetabling of buses and fare costs in the Channel area.
“Forty-five per cent of (adult) respondents stated that transport issues isolated them socially and may contribute to mental health issues that could be leading to compounding issues for the Channel community,” said Mr Penklis.
“However, 84 per cent of young people surveyed in school (60 students) stated that a lack of transport options affected their socialisation and mental health negatively.”
Mr Penklis further stated that once young people came of working age, this can lead to many skilled young people leaving the community for work opportunities in places more connected with sufficient transport.
With the results of the survey now publicly available, Mr Penklis hopes that further discussion can be generated among the community and plans to continue liaising with the community, local and state government about future public transport options.