Council calls for COVID CAT cuts
Fremantle Council has voted to temporarily reduce the city’s CAT bus services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City of Fremantle and Public Transport Authority have an agreement to jointly fund the two free Central Area Transit bus routes in Fremantle.
The Blue CAT operates on a loop along South Terrace and Marine Terrace between Fremantle Station and South Beach, while the Red CAT connects attractions like the WA Maritime Museum, Round House and Fremantle Arts Centre.
At a meeting last night the council voted to ask the PTA to vary the agreement and cease the operation of the Red CAT for up to 12 months.
The council is also seeking to reduce the frequency of the Blue CAT service from a bus every 10 minutes to a bus every 20 minutes.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said although the current CAT services were popular they were hard to justify in the current environment.
“Under our agreement with the PTA the City of Fremantle pays for 60 per cent of the cost of providing the CAT bus, which equates to around $670,000 a year,” Mayor Pettitt said.
“Since COVID-19 hit the number of people using the CAT bus has gone down dramatically, and we don’t expect patronage to fully recover for quite a while.
“The Red CAT carries significantly less passengers than the Blue CAT and it’s primarily intended to service interstate and international tourists, so with the state’s borders currently closed it’s not really providing value for money.
“The Blue CAT has been far more popular so it makes sense to keep that service going, but with only one bus operating on the route instead of two.
“We’ve requested these changes be in place for up to 12 months, during which time the City will review the level of service and delivery options in anticipation of either a CAT bus service reinstatement or a new service model post COVID-19 when things return to normal.
“We are also very keen to explore alternative funding arrangements to reduce the financial burden on our ratepayers and ensure the preferred service remains viable into the future.”
The Blue CAT service carries around 700,000 passengers per year, while the Red CAT averages around 150,000.
The proposed reductions will save the City around $432,000.
Any variation to the terms of the Fremantle CAT service funding agreement between the City and PTA must be agreed in writing by both parties.