The bus stop where you can't get a bus

LEFT BEHIND: George Etheridge relies on the bus to get around but is stranded now that buses have stopped stopping at the stop nearest his Eerwah Vale home.
LEFT BEHIND: George Etheridge relies on the bus to get around but is stranded now that buses have stopped stopping at the stop nearest his Eerwah Vale home. Warren Lynam

GEORGE Etheridge lives a simple life with little in the way of needs or wants.

Three or four times a week, he walks about 500m from his home to catch a bus from Eumundi to Noosa, Cooroy or Nambour to buy groceries, or his favourite ice-cream, or see a movie.

Or he used to.

The 631 bus which has allowed George, who has a disability, to maintain his independence since his parents passed away no longer stops at his stop.

Shelter sheds and bike lock-up cages sit idle at the northern end of Memorial Dr, as buses pass by.

George first struck problems three or four weeks ago and although the occasional driver has stopped for him, he cannot count on others to do the same.

The 69-year-old recently had to walk 2km home to Eerwah Vale from the middle of Eumundi, carrying his shopping.

"Twice now, they didn't stop. I ended up in town and had to carry everything back," George said, estimating the journey took an hour.

"I had to keep putting the bags down," he said.

STRANDED: George Etheridge.
STRANDED: George Etheridge. Warren Lynam

George cannot make sense of the situation, given the bus, which has stopped there for years, now goes right past.

"They turn off the main road and they come here into Eumundi," he said.

"They've said it's not a bus stop. It's all crazy."

The situation has riled local Doreen Cunnington, one of the locals who has kept an eye on George since his parents passed away.

"What sort of bus stop is it if the buses don't stop?" Mrs Cunnington said.

"It's affecting George. He doesn't know what to do. He doesn't know whether to get on the bus or not because he doesn't know if he will get home," she said.

"There's a lot of people in Eumundi perturbed by this."

Without a bus stop, George will be reliant upon friends to chauffeur him around but does not want to impose on them any more than he wants to leave the family property.

A reply from TransLink in response to emailed questions explained why the 631 bus does not stop at the stop, but it did not explain why it no longer stopped after stopping there for years.

The reply, attributed to a TransLink spokesman, said route 631 had two designated stops on Memorial Dr near the Eumundi Aquatic Centre and the markets.

But three other stops, one near Fullager Dr and two near the Bruce Highway overpass, were school bus stops rather than stops for the 631.

TransLink is in discussions with the Sunshine Coast Council on adding the Fullager Dr stop to route 631.

"However, this would require upgrading to current disability standards and the construction of a matching bus stop on the other side of the road."

The chances of George catching a bus again without a long walk into town are looking slim.

"TransLink is not considering an upgrade of the stops near the Bruce Highway overpass," the response said.

"The residential catchment of these stops would not support the cost of upgrading these stops to current disability standards which is required for urban bus stops."

Topics:  bus bus stop cooroy eerwah vale eumundi nambour noosa route

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