MAYOR Karen Williams has called on the state government to start a free bus service to help ease parking problems at Redland Hospital.
She said the bus could do a loop, linking with the Cleveland train station, CBD and other transport hubs.
But her move sparked a fierce response from Transport Minister Mark Bailey who labelled it as the mayor’s latest stunt, saying Cr Williams had promised the service during the last election.
“It was on her how-to-vote card,” Mr Bailey said.
“Three years later, the mayor has reneged on her commitment to the people of the Redlands by confirming she has no intention of funding her election promise and is now calling on the state government to deliver her commitment.”
Mr Bailey was responding to Cr William’s request that he consider the free bus loop to transport people from the Cleveland train station, Cleveland CBD and other transport hubs to the hospital.
Cr Williams said the appeal came after she had met with Health Minister Steven Miles about Redland Hospital.
“...I acknowledge and welcome the minister’s commitment to completing a car park review at the hospital, which I hope will provide relief in the long term,” Cr Williams said.
“However, a parking review won’t provide any relief for patients for a number of years and we need action now.”
She said the service would provide immediate relief for patients and their family members who visit them at the hospital while the parking review was being completed.
Capalaba MP Don Brown said he was surprised at Cr William’s request but he and Redlands MP Kim Richards would be happy to help deliver the service at council’s cost.
“I see no reason why we can’t accommodate the mayor’s full election pledge of a free city circle mini-bus,” Mr Brown said.
Mr Bailey said this request with Cr Williams’ refusal last year to support Southern Moreton Bay Island residents by contributing to free inter-island ferry services, showed the mayor was not putting her residents first.
A spat broke out between Cr Williams and the government in November when Mr Bailey said his government was funding free inter-island travel because council would not cover costs.
Cr Williams said the government was being misleading and insulting about the reason for the intervention.
She said residents had been slugged $950,000 a year via a levy – designed to set up the Translink service for the islands – that went to the state government and was due to end on December 31 last year.
The mayor and minister were at odds over the results of a free city bus trial that included transport from Cleveland railway station to Redland Hospital in 2015-16.
Cr Williams said feedback to council was positive and evidence that the service was needed.
But Mr Bailey said Translink’s review of council’s trial found the service did not show significant demand for travel between the station and the hospital, beyond what was provided by existing services.
“TransLink already operates bus services between the Cleveland rail station and Redlands Hospital,” Mr Bailey said.
“Passenger loads on these services are around 25 per cent of available capacity, so there are plenty of seats for new customers.”
Cr Williams said the state government needed to commit to the service because legislation made it difficult for council to operate new transport routes.
Mr Bailey said that if the mayor sincerely wanted the service for her residents, she would fund it as promised at the last election.
“With her budget due in a few months, the mayor still has time to keep her promise to Redlands residents,” Mr Bailey said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.