Marshall’s Bus & Coach add informed industry perspective to Princes Highway upgrade issue
Dear Beagle Editor, We are writing in support of the Eurobodalla Shire Council’s infrastructure director Warren Sharpe and the Fairfax Media Fix It Now campaign for the Princes Highway. As an integral part of the Eurobodalla community, through provision of school bus services, the provision of tours to Sydney and Canberra, and charter work for local schools and businesses, we believe the allocation of funds, planning and work on the Princes Highway must be prioritised.
Marshall’s has been forced to replace our 13.5 metre coach as we face significant restrictions due to the limitations of local road infrastructure. For example, whilst we are allowed to travel on North Head Drive in Moruya we are unable to turn left on to the bridge which restricts our ability to access local residents and businesses. To ensure we provide a high quality service to our tour passengers we are purchasing a new coach which will be purpose built for tours, however if road infrastructure was fit for purpose we would not have had to do this. Our tours typically begin in Narooma at the Information Centre. The Narooma Bridge when traveling south is a significant issue in a coach. We are forced to radio ahead to any heavy vehicles traveling north to de-conflict traversing the bridge. If this is unsuccessful the driver must hope that they do not come across another vehicle near the corner and that local traffic is not distracted by the amazing view and keep a large enough gap to avoid an accident. In the event the coach has to come to a stop to wait for traffic heading north there is significant risk of an accident. The Mogo Bridge also is very narrow, and the angle of the bridge makes access difficult. When two heavy vehicles are approaching the bridge from either end, drivers describe ‘feeling like they need to breath in to become skinnier’ as it is such a close pass. Marshall’s is routinely contacted by schools to complete charter work and cost minimisation and risk assessments are high priority for schools, and their parents and students. Local schools typically request day trips to Sydney to keep costs down. Completing such a trip means almost 10 hours in the coach, compared to a similar trip from Canberra to Sydney on the dual carriageway which takes just 3.5 hours (one way). Marshalls and other local business that rely on heavy vehicle traffic continually face risk in drivers running out of hours during this trip, particularly if for example there is an accident and the Princes Highway is closed. For the safety of our passengers and drivers and to facilitate a potential boom in local business as Sydney becomes a more accessible market, we at Marshall’s welcome and encourage all funding, planning and improvements to the Princes Highway. Fix It Now and enable a safe and prosperous future. Regards Management at Marshall’s Bus & Coach Pty Ltd