A REVIEW of the bus terminal at the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre is being undertaken by Tamworth Regional Council.
The announcement of the review – to investigate security and the servicing of coaches in the early hours of the morning – follows concerns that visitors to Tamworth were being locked out of the terminal while waiting for buses at night and early in the morning.
Tamworth woman Colleen Banister last week expressed concerns the terminal, established as a place for visitors to rest while waiting for the next bus when the centre opened in 1995, had been closed recently and an elderly visitor was left to brave the elements on the pavement outside the terminal.
Mrs Bannister, who was passing by and became concerned for the elderly man’s welfare, called a security number on the outside of the building using her mobile phone and was told by security the terminal was shut because in had recently been vandalised.
“I was mortified,” Mrs Bannister said.
“The man didn’t have a mobile phone.
“The only phone for public use in that vicinity was inside the locked terminal.
“It makes you wonder what the point of having a facility like that is when it’s locked.”
Another reason for the closure, Mrs Bannister was told, was that female cleaners locked the facility each morning while they cleaned, for their own safety.
Mrs Bannister said she felt the most disturbing part of the terminal closure was the fact the man had to wait for five hours for the bus while sitting on the concrete outside.
“It was a reasonably warm night,” she said.
“But what happens when it’s raining and cold outside?
“That passenger wouldn’t have been alone – there are many other people who use the terminal for shelter while waiting for the bus, many of them elderly, too,” she said.
While she could understand the reasons behind the closures, Mrs Bannister said there had to be an alternative to closing the facility.
“There is not even a bench outside the terminal for people to sit on if it is locked," she said.
“Surely there is an alternative.”
Council corporate and governance director Robert Charlesworth said the terminal was usually open to the public from 6.30am to 10pm daily.
“The coach terminal review will include options for security and servicing of coaches which arrive and depart in the early hours of the morning,” he said.
“During last month’s Tamworth Country Music Festival the terminal was closed earlier, at about 6pm daily, because of an escalation in incidents of vandalism.”
Mr Charlesworth said the closure followed attempted break-ins and nine glass panels being smashed at the visitor information centre.
“Council was concerned about the safety of staff and volunteers who were working longer hours during the festival. It was hoped the earlier closing time of the coach terminal would deter anti-social behaviour – and it did,” he said.
The Tamworth Coach Terminal and the Tamworth Visitor Information Centre are patrolled nightly by security staff.
Greyhound Australia, one of the two coach services that use the terminal, has a daily Sydney-to-Brisbane route which stops in Tamworth.
Its Sydney-bound coach departs Tamworth at 3.05am, while the Brisbane-bound coach leaves Tamworth at 1.45am.
Other coaches from surrounding regional areas that offer day-trip services or are in transit to other locations also use the station on a daily basis.
A Greyhound Australia spokesman said no formal complaints or concerns about the terminal being out of use had been made by passengers or drivers.