SA Transport Department ends KI Rockhopper service

SERVICE STARTS: The Rockhopper bus service was started with much fanfare in 2014. File photo
SERVICE STARTS: The Rockhopper bus service was started with much fanfare in 2014. File photo

The SA Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure has confirmed it has ended the Rockhopper bus service on Kangaroo Island.

The department blamed poor patronage and said a replacement service will not be provided. The last Rockhopper service took place earlier this month.

The end of the service that was started in 2014 means there is no more subsidised public transport on the Island.

A DPTI spokesperson said Rockhopper services were administered and funded through DPTI, with co-funding from the Department of Human Services, South Australia and the Office of the Commissioner for Kangaroo Island.

"The contract details are commercial in confidence, however the cost to Government ended up to be in excess of $270 per passenger per trip.

"The contract term was for two years with an option to renew for three years. At the expiry of the total five-year term, it was decided not to continue with this contract as the patronage was extremely low with no indications that there would be any opportunities for patronage growth and the majority of the funding was no longer available.

"Patronage reports indicate that the Rockhopper West service averaged only two passengers per trip.

"While it was initially expected that up to 158 services per annum would be offered, only 88 services were delivered during 2017/2018 due to low demand.

"In regards to the Kingscote Area Dial-A-Ride service, no passenger trips were recorded to have been operated during 2017/2018.

"In regards to the SeaLink additional Wednesday midday service, no passenger trips were recorded for the last 8 months of 2017/2018.

"Based on this data, the service was not considered financially viable to continue. At this stage, the Government will not be providing a replacement service."

The KI Council at its February meeting heard from Maree Baldwin from the Junction Community Centre and Darren Keenan from the Health Advisory Council asking for the service to be continued.

They acknowledged numbers were low but that the service was relied upon, as it was the Island's only affordable public transport.

Peter Wyatt from Kangaroo Island Transfers had the contract to operate the western service to Parndana and Vivonne Bay on Tuesdays and Fridays.

He confirmed there were only two regular passengers on the service, both of whom preferred to travel on Tuesdays, one travelling out to Parndana from Kingscote and the other from Parndana into Kingscote.

He said perhaps the individuals could try and get their own subsidies to keep travelling using his service.

"I am happy to keep providing the service, it will just be more expensive," he said.

The Rockhopper bus belonged to DPTI and he expected it would be taken back to the mainland. 

Councillor Peter Denholm at the March KI Council meeting asked what was going to be done with the various Rockhopper seats on the route, suggesting they should either be put in storage or used for other purposes.

He was informed the seats are the property of DPTI.