There's a certain camaraderie that's developed among the passengers on a tri-weekly bus trip to Canberra from Goulburn.
They're all there for different reasons but are united in their view that the NSW Trainlink bus service must continue.
The service has been running under a trial since September, 2018, which was originally due to last six months. However it was extended to September and then October 28 following representations from State MP Wendy Tuckerman to the Transport Minister.
Now regular passengers fear it won't continue at all beyond that date.
Goulburn man Lawrie Sullivan and wife Colleen have been using the bus for the past three months. Their disabled son, Collen, has been in Canberra Hospital's intensive care unit on and off this year suffering acute pancreatitis necrosis. The condition sees digestive enzymes eat away at the pancreas. Collen had two stints in the hospital, including the past three months.
"For the family, the financial strain of using a year's fuel in just three months of driving between our Goulburn home and Canberra Hospital (earlier this year) only added to our family's angst," Mr Sullivan said.
But in July, he found out about the Trainlink bus service when he saw it advertised for the first time. Mr Sullivan said he and his wife had made good use of it since then, travelling to and from Canberra three times a week at the $2.50 pension concession rate.
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"It's an incredibly valuable service which has relieved us of a lot of financial strain. I've also seen how it has benefited others, so we'd like to see it continue," Mr Sullivan said.
He has taken his concerns to Mrs Tuckerman.
Also alighting from the the bus on Monday was Goulburn man Michael Skerry. He's been using the service for the past six months, visiting his wife in Canberra Hospital three times a week.
"I want it to continue because I don't drive and it makes things so much easier," he said.
Mr Sullivan conceded the service sometimes wasn't getting the necessary passenger numbers. Eight were needed to keep it viable. Sometimes there were less but occasionally more.
The bus leaves Goulburn Railway Station for Canberra at 9am and goes on to Civic in Canberra, John James and Canberra Hospitals, Kingston Railway Station and then Queanbeyan. It returns to Goulburn by 4pm.
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Another Trainlink bus service leaves Goulburn at 5am, arriving at Campbelltown at 6.40am before returning to Goulburn for 9am pick-up to Canberra. In the evening, people can board the 6.20pm bus at Campbelltown for 8pm set down at Goulburn.
While the Goulburn to Canberra and return run was cut back from five to three days a week in June, the Goulburn to Campbelltown and return trip has remained at five days a week.
Bus driver Chris Janse wants the former run returned to five days.
"We've been pushing for the (total) service to continue because it's a good one. Since it was advertised more, the numbers have picked up," he said.
Goulburn district man Dr Robert Favaloro uses the early service to Campbelltown each Wednesday as, unlike the 5.30am all stations train, it enables him to be at his Engadine practice by 8am.
"It's an extremely valuable service and it means I don't have to drive," he said.
Dr Favaloro wrote to Transport Minister Andrew Constance about four months ago asking for its continuation and saying it enabled him to live in the Goulburn area.
In a statement, Mrs Tuckerman said she worked hard to promote the service to the community, posting timetables to every enrolled voter and advertising it on print and on radio.
"During the extension period, NSW TrainLink sought and reviewed feedback from customers to identify any opportunities to amend the service to better meet the community's needs," she said.
"The trial is currently being reviewed with factors such as patronage, utilisation, cost recovery, alternative transportation options as well as customer and community feedback all being considered. I am looking forward to seeing the results."
She said she had taken each constituent's concerns about the service's continuation to Regional Transport Minister Paul Toole and advocated for its retention. She thanked bus passengers who had encouraged others to use it.
"I have sat down with the Minister to discuss what the next steps might be in providing transport services to the community that will be utilised," Ms Tuckerman said.
"I have made it quite clear that just abandoning this service is unacceptable, that we have to work to identify and explore what the right options are. He has given me the undertaking to go back to the Department to explore the options and discussions around timetables and links to new/existing services.
"I want to take this opportunity to once again encourage the community to contact me and keep providing your feedback and most importantly - use it or we will lose it."
Mr Sullivan certainly doesn't want it to cease. Despite the prospect of his son coming back to Goulburn Base Hospital this week he said he and his wife would continue to use the service for regular clinical appointments.
"We know other passengers, friends and acquaintances have said they'd do the same," he said.
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