Claims made by the NSW Transport Minister about the number of people jumping aboard Newcastle buses is being disputed by Labor.

Newcastle MP, Tim Crakanthorp claims on March 6, Andrew Constance told state parliament, “I took the January 2017 patronage numbers compared them to January 2018. In January 2017, the patronage numbers were 304, 330. In January of this year, there were 319, 360.”

That would have represented a significant increase of 15, 330 patrons, however,

Opal card data,

published on the NSW government’s website, shows only 300, 448 using Newcastle bus services in January 2018.

Tim Crakanthorp has labelled Andrew Constance’s claims “disingenuous,” and said the 4000 person decrease for January and decline of 8000 patrons in February makes sense, given public outcry over the revised system.

“This makes a lot of sense…we’ve got huge support from the community on this particular campaign to call for a full review and proper consultation on this service.

“We had 1000 people turn up at a community meeting in Belmont and about the same come to a rally [in Gregson Park] just last week.”

However, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald has defended the Minister’s comments, saying Mr Constance was referring to overall patronage sourced from both Opal and non-Opal data.

“The figures we rely on is overall patronage…the numbers, when combined, give us about a 9% increase.

“So we’re getting that up-swing we’ve been expecting,” he said.

“We can’t just rely on the Opal data,” Mr MacDonald continued, “because there are various concession users and people paying with cash.

“When we look at both the Opal and non-Opal figures, it is still quite encouraging.”

Scot MacDonald emphasized the declining nature of the previous system as reason for the changed timetable.