Springfield's 18-seat Hino Poncho bus has been in operation for more than a year.
Springfield's 18-seat Hino Poncho bus has been in operation for more than a year.

State’s smallest bus gets surprising result

THE smallest bus in south east Queensland has been warmly welcomed by commuters in Ipswich’s rapidly growing south east pocket, with an increase in the number of people jumping on board despite many turning away from public transport during COVID-19.

Patronage numbers dropped drastically across the city during the pandemic but the 18-seat Hino Poncho bus in Springfield is carrying more passengers now than it did at the same time last year.

The mini bus was introduced in January last year for the new 533 Spring Mountain route.

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Jordan MP Charis Mullen said comparative year-to-year- data revealed a surprising result.

“Poncho patronage jumped more than 30 per cent for the first few weeks of comparative patronage results compared with the same time last year,” she said.

“For a bus route to experience greater passenger numbers now compared with a pre-pandemic period is a great result.”

The bus services one of Ipswich’s top growth hot spots and connects Spring Mountain to other bus services at Orion shopping centre and the Springfield Central station.

The route is run by private company Bus Queensland.

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“Even though the service started during a challenging year for public transport due to the impact of the pandemic declaration and lockdown, route 533 is now averaging nearly 100 trips a day during weekdays,” Mrs Mullen said.

“The route’s popularity reflected the continued growth in the area and we anticipate Poncho will continue to be a popular service for residents.”

The $44.5 million Springfield Central Park ‘n’ Ride, which will create 1100 new parking spaces at the busy station, is expected to be built by early next year.

The facility is the largest of its kind in Queensland.

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Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.