(A good reason to support Shaping Our Future and Bus Rapid Transit systems)

Manly Daily 28 October 2010 by Carleen Frost

COFFS Harbour has the big banana and Goulburn is home to the giant merino, but could the northern beaches be home to the biggest commuter bus trip?

Spanning two hours and five minutes, the L90 service from Palm Beach to Central Station is one of Sydney’s most agonising bus routes.

The early-morning service leaves Ocean Place at 7.22am and is not scheduled to arrive at its last stop in the city until 9.27am.

And that’s if it’s running on time.

Ed Martinez, who boards at Dee Why, only does half the trip and thinks that’s bad enough. “Usually this bus is packed,” he said. “Every day is different, it’s unpredictable.

“When there’s traffic or rain Military Rd is the worst.”

A spokesman for State Transit said the L90 service covered the longest route on the Sydney Buses timetable.

He said the operators took advantage of a number of bus lanes to speed up the 45km journey through Newport, Mona Vale, Brookvale, Mosman and the city.

On the upside, the trip does provide spectacular views of Pittwater, the Spit and Sydney Harbour.

The views, however, don’t seem to excite too many people that are regulars on the L90.

When The Manly Daily caught the bus on Tuesday most passengers could be seen spending the time listening to music, reading or putting the finishing touches on their make-up.

The most accustomed passengers managed to get in some sleep, while one had mastered the art of reading a book while standing in the aisle and holding on for balance.

Cheyenne O’Hanlon is one of the first to get on the bus, boarding at Avalon at about 7.40am to get to work at a CBD modelling agency before 9.30am.

The 18-year-old passes the time listening to music but said she needed to charge her iPod just about every night so that it lasted the return trip.

“I like it,’’ she said.
“In the mornings it’s better than driving because it beats the traffic.’‘

Eoin Doyle, who travels from Curl Curl to work in Mosman, said the bus was often overcrowded.

“It’s not too bad if you can get a seat,’’ he said.

There could be some hope in sight for commuters with Manly State Liberal MP Mike Baird promising to implement a bus rapid transit system if the Coalition wins government at next year’s State Election.
Under the proposal the centre lane of all arterial roads would be transformed into a specific bus lane.

“We would be committed to getting started on the corridor,’’ he said. “The trip on the bus in to the city is just too long.’’

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